Designed to compete in the highly popular and very crowded cinnamon whiskey category (think Fireball), Fire is the brand's third flavor (after Honey and Maple).
What makes it stand out from the pack, according to a press release from the company is that it is "built from the whiskey up." We're not quite certain what that implies about Beam's competition, but suggestion seems to be that rather than use mediocre sourced whiskey stock from who-knows-where as the base spirit, Beam uses finished Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Whiskey. The known variable, with a strong reputation among its fans for quality, is a distinctive place to start. The whiskey is then blended with cinnamon liqueur for a 70-proof finished product, intended to be served as a chilled shot or sipped on the rocks or straight up. Conceiveably it also might blend well with some sodas.
On the nose the product does have a bold, slightly earthy cinnamon aroma, reminsicent of red hot candies or old cinnamon stick candies, with a woody earthiness from the whiskey.
On the palate, the first assault is a pure, daring delight, accomplishing exactly what it sets out to do. The combination of strong cinnamon flavoring and the oak-aged whiskey wood notes reminded us of the powerful cinnamon oil-soaked toothpicks we used to suck on in grade school. The sort accompanied with the urban legend caveat that if you held them in one spot for too long, they would burn a hole in your lip.
As a chilled shot, it works perfectly, and the herbaceous complexity of the bourbon counterpoints the cinnamon liqueur better than the brash sweetness of Canadian whisky commonly used in other "hot" flavored whiskeys. As a sipping drink, it is less successful. We tried it over ice. While the initial hits of cinnamon warmth washed over us in the same way the shot did, after a few sips there was an astringent, bitter aftertaste that coated the insides of our cheeks and the back of our tongue. Perhaps it was tannins from the whiskey. Perhaps an aftertaste from the cinnamon flavoring. Going back to those toothpicks, it's not unlike when a badly glued toothpick disintigrates in your mouth. Stick with the shots.
Jim Beam Kentucky Fire is bottled at an ABV of 35% (70 proof) and has an SRP of $16. It is scheduled for national distribution starting August 1st. Please Fire responsibly.
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FTC Disclaimer: The author sometimes receives product samples for review, which carry no cash value and cannot be re-sold, and sometimes attends press events such as lunches or cocktail parties, designed to promote a given product. The author is not paid by any alcohol manufacturer, retailer or distributor, or provided compensation apart from revenue from an assigning publishing company for editorial publication. Opinions are the author's own. By the way, you should be 21 or older to read this page. Author received a sample of Kentucky Fire cinnamon whiskey for review. For one brief, shining moment, he thought he was 25 again...