Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New releases > Jim Beam Red Stag

red stag by jim beamIconic American producer Jim Beam, the world's best selling bourbon, have launched a new product on to the UK market called Red Stag - a version of the famous Jim Beam White Label bourbon which has been slowly infused with natural black cherries. Bottled at 40% ABV, Red Stag will retail at £21.75 a bottle and is currently available from the Tesco and Asda supermarket chains. It is recommended to be consumed straight, chilled or as part of a cocktail. We were delighted to be invited to the UK launch party recently - footage of which can be seen in the video clip below.

Jim Beam is the biggest selling bourbon brand in the world and sits comfortably in the global top 10 for total spirit sales. The current distillery was built at the end of the Prohibition period in 1933 and is located in the town of Clermont, Kentucky. The state of Kentucky is the famous home to America's bourbon industry. The Beam family have a longer whisky heritage, with their first distillery dating back to 1795. This was founded in Washington County, Kentucky by a German immigrant called Jacob Boehm (his surname later became Americanised to Beam). The distillery is currently run by the sixth generation of his family. The Beam empire has grown massively and Beam Global are now one of the biggest drinks companies in the world, holding a vast array of worldwide brands in their portfolio including the famous Scottish whisky distillery of Laphroaig.

Our tasting notes
We have tasted Red Stag straight and at room temperature for these notes. The colour is a rich golden yellow and the nose is delicious and rich. It is packed with vanilla, oak, coconut and sweet cereal grain aromas from the bourbon, with the addition of ripe red cherries (think of a cocktail/maraschino cherries) . More sweet aromas come through in the form of honey, as does an interesting floral note (imagine honeysuckle or maybe orange blossom). On the palate, the vanilla and oakiness are immediately prominent before quickly being complimented by plenty of sweet, luscious and juicy black cherry flavours. The liquid feels rich, soft and warming in your mouth. The warmth is quite spicy with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg) and further mellow sweetness created by the cereal grains and honey notes. The finish is long with a combination of the cherry sweetness and the drier, oaky bourbon characteristics vying for attention. The warm spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) really come through as does a citrus note, reminiscent of candied orange peel, before one final blast of sugary cherry.

What's the verdict?
The Red Stag is certainly unique. Other American companies have produced similarly infused items - think of Evan Williams' Honey or the recently released Jack Daniel's Honey - but we have not tasted or come across a bourbon infused with fruit. Is it a gimmick? We don't think so and we both really enjoy it. We like the idea of new products that try and attract new drinkers, as long as they are of a good quality and well produced. Red Stag is good taken straight but is better chilled from the fridge and sipped from a shot glass or as part of a simple cocktail.

Cocktail idea?
We came up with an Old Fashioned type cocktail which seems to suit Red Stag well and tastes delicious - all you will need is a tumbler glass, some orange zest, ice cubes and Red Stag. Put the orange zest in the tumbler style glass, add three or four ice cubes and a good measure of Red Stag. Stir for a minute or so with the end of a spoon, repeat the ice cubes/Red Stag measure and stirring stage, before garnishing with a fresh red cherry (or a maraschino cherry if real cherries are out of season). Yum :)

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