Flavored bourbon whiskey: When will this flavoring trend finally stop?


Jim Beam announced Jim Beam Vanilla to its line of bourbon whiskeys. When can this flavored bourbon whiskey trend finally end?

Bourbon has been surged in popularity over the past couple of years. From high end bourbons to craft cocktails featuring the American spirit, bourbon is no longer an old person’s liquor. But, flavored bourbon whiskey has been on the rise. When will this flavoring trend end?

Bourbon and bourbon whiskey are two different spirits. True bourbon, the only American spirit, has very strict rules to be legally called a bourbon. From the ingredients to the aging process, bourbon is its own unique entity. Bourbon whiskey is a variation that doesn’t completely conform to the strict bourbon standards.

Recently, flavored bourbon whiskeys have been on the rise. These liquors have added flavors. From honey to maple, the added flavor appeals to many drinkers. Most recently, Jim Beam added Jim Beam Vanilla to it line of flavored bourbon whiskeys. Although some people are excited for this new addition, is it really necessary?

Enjoy Jim Beam® Vanilla with cola and a cherry garnish. (PRNewsfoto/Jim Beam)

The Jim Beam Vanilla offers a sweeter version of the more robust bourbon flavoring. The classic Jim Beam bourbon whiskey is combined with Madagascar vanilla bean liqueur.  While the sweetness appeals to some drinkers, that sweetness can be achieved within the cocktail itself. Personally, I think that it is unlikely that many people will sip the Jim Beam Vanilla on its own. While a shot could be a possibility, this liquor is targeted as a mixed cocktail spirit. That sweetness can added to the cocktail through its ingredients.

For example, a Jim Beam and cola could have an added vanilla flavor from a vanilla infused simple syrup or a vanilla bitter. These two sweeter options could add a bolder flavor. The same can be said from any type of mixed cocktail scenario. While I wouldn’t recommend adding a big glug of vanilla from the spice rack, vanilla flavoring isn’t hard to add.

While this Jim Beam Vanilla is a convenient way to achieve the taste, creating the vanilla flavoring on your own adds to a cocktail’s taste and enjoyment. Many mixologists recommend making your own simple syrups. My concept is the same. Why buy a vanilla flavored liquor when you can add vanilla flavoring into the cocktail itself?

But, many consumers love these flavored bourbon whiskeys. The liquor shelves are filled with many types, flavors and combinations. If people weren’t buying the product, the stores wouldn’t stock it.

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When will this flavor trend end? When consumer demand ends, the change will come. Until then, I would rather drink my bourbon, real, unflavored, purely American bourbon, with one large cube of ice.