Review: Red Stag
Red Stag is “the UK’s first ever flavoured bourbon”, and is apparently just the thing for smart, young urbanites looking for new ways to have fun with their friends. So if you are dumb, old and live in the countryside, this is clearly not for you. I live in London, am (relatively) young, and like to think I’m smart so I was hoping to be in for a bit of a treat.
Only recently released in the UK, Red Stag is made with four-year-old Jim Beam by infusing “natural black cherry” using an “artisanal process”, whatever that means. It is clearly marketed at the ‘party’ crowd, but it is how it stands up as a cocktail ingredient that we’re interested in.
The cherry is clearly there right from the off on the nose, but unfortunately so is a a slightly rough ethanol/acetone note that does nothing to to entice you in. The classic woody Jim Beam aroma is still present but a little dominated by the sweetness of the cherry. Upon tasting, the cherry flavour is more ‘natural’ than I was expecting, which is a shame as what might have been quite a tasty product is spoilt by the high level of sweetness. The bourbon flavours seem narrow and sharp in comparison, disappearing altogether to leave a cloying almond-cherry finish.Red Stag is certainly not a sipping whiskey, but the juicy cherry and sweetness make it an obvious choice for a chilled shooter.
In all the cocktails I tried, Red Stag was lost in amongst the other flavours.When mixed long such as in the signature Cherry Drop (red stag, apple juice, balsamic vinegar and lemon) it is certainly drinkable but any bourbon character that was there is lost, and the subtle cherry flavours just become syrupy. In shorter, more complex drinks, Red Stag really fails to deliver, becoming very one dimensional and with a dominating sweetness. If it was just a little less sweet, this would make for an acceptable low-end mixer, but as it is I would stick to the shooters.
“Jim Beam Red Stag is a bit of fun in a cheeky chilled shooter sort of way, but it fails to impress either as a spirit in its own right, or as a cocktail ingredient. Like Jim Beam white label from which it is produced, it is a bit rough around the edges and lacks depth when mixing.”
Jim Beam Red Stag is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.