Disclosure: this sample was provided for review, not purchased. Although nobody can be completely free of subconscious bias, I have done my best not to let Founder’s 49’s generosity influence my review.
But with that fall comes the rise of the whiskey flavors.
Fireball has been the party booze of choice for a while now. Many of the hot-selling brands have cinnamon, maple, honey, and apple flavors. When I worked at a North Carolina ABC store, we had Crown Royal Regal Apple backordered for months!
When I visited the Sons of Liberty distillery in July, I tasted hop and pumpkin flavored whiskies that were so sophisticated, and so true to their whiskey roots, that I absolutely think of them as sippers. Yet for many other products, “flavored whiskey” is a misnomer for what would more rightly be called a whiskey-based liqueur.
When I looked at Uncle Bob’s Root Beer flavored whiskey, it did not inspire hope that it would belong to the former category. Nevertheless, I always take my tasting notes neat.
The color is the color of root beer. It is also artificial, as the label makes clear.
Upon inhaling the nose, I was instantly reminded of A&W classic root beer from the tap. It’s a classic, high-quality soda that I’m always excited to drink when the opportunity arises. But the nose also has undertones of far lower-quality, fake root beer flavored Pez candy.
A sip reveals the same mouthfeel as a slightly, but not unpleasantly flat soda. It has a sort of artificial fiz familiar to anyone who has tried a soda-flavored Pez. At 35%, the alcohol is warming, not burning; something the novice would quite appreciate.
It tastes, surprisingly enough, like root beer (flavored candy). But it doesn’t taste like whiskey. Oak is absent or very hard to find in the taste of this. Vanilla, a common bourbon flavor, is present in droves, but that probably comes from the flavoring. Vanilla is also a common root beer flavor. The finish is lasting, smooth, sugary, and lively, like the soda itself. And like root beer, the finish begs for another sip.
I don’t recommend Uncle Bob’s as a sipping whiskey, or even a whiskey at all. That doesn’t, however, mean I don’t like it. Uncle Bob’s shines as a liqueur. With its smooth and pleasant taste, it works great on the rocks. Novices who don’t like a harsh burn will enjoy it.
And furtheluvagod, if you get the chance, try this over ice cream.
Two or three heaping scoops of vanilla bean ice cream with a couple ounces of Uncle Bob’s will make you happy to be alive.
I’m glad I received this bottle, and it will get used. But I have some advice to the spirits industry: please put the liqueurs back in the liqueur aisle? If no trace of whiskey taste remains, it’s a cordial, not a flavored whiskey.
As a whiskey: No. It’s not a whiskey. It may have whiskey in it, but that’s not what you’re buying.
As a liqueur: Yes. It’s kitschy, silly, and artificial, but it’s also delicious and definitely put it on ice cream.