Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon
I don't really live a life full of vice, but one of my kryptonites is cherry-flavoured beverages. Cherry Coke, Wild Cherry Pepsi and for the love of God, the best of the best, Cherry Dr Pepper.
Unfortunately I live in Canada, whose importing authorities see cherry-flavoured drinks as a sort of deadly violation of the Canada Food Guide and avoid it.
When a friend told me the LCBO was carrying Jim Beam Red Stag, I jumped on it. Why? Red Stag is Jim Beam's Black Cherry flavoured Kentucky bourbon, aged four years. Not only did I get one, but I got it on sale: $25. (It was a limited offering in 2011 and is currently not available at the LCBO.)
I like bourbon and adding cherry flavour to it would only deepen our bond, I was sure. Did my fingers tremble as I cracked it open? Maybe a little.
The nose was strong. Alcohol, medicinal cherry and bourbony. Not so promising.
There's a tired line I've avoided all my life. It's so effortless to say something "tastes like cherry cough syrup!" I tend to really like cherry cough syrup, so this descriptor doesn't work for me. But the taste was so medicinal that I couldn't help but think, "Now I know what people are talking about when they say cherry cough syrup!"
My wife gave it a try and to my surprise thoroughly enjoyed it. Based on this I gave it a second chance. And a third. Fourth. Fifth. Nope. It was awful. It tasted like two separate drinks in my mouth, one being some sort of Robitussin product which came close to overwhelming the second, bourbon.
Did I get a bad bottle? I'll never know.
I would liken Red Stag to a DeLorean barn-find. It's exciting to discover it, but there are just no redeeming qualities about a DeLorean with a rusted frame, dented stainless panels and gummed up fuel injectors.
LCBO sale: $25
40% (80 proof)