Can flavored whiskey be my friend, yes – just go light on the ice

Like millions of others, my first tastes of bourbon and whiskey came on the rocks and probably with Coke as a mixer. This remains a fantastic way to enjoy my drink, but it wasn’t until I learned the pleasures of drinking my whiskey neat, that my love affair began.

The point is that I evolved, and continue to evolve as new whiskey’s and bourbons come onto the scene. But, up till about a year ago I sort of stayed away from the flavor infused whiskey I was seeing on the shelves. I tried a few, but I tried them neat, and for whatever reason, the experience simply did not do it for me.

Fast forward about a year.  I received a bottle of apple infused whiskey and I added it to my home bar where it sat unopened for many months.  One day I cracked it open, poured a light glass and took a sip. Very appley.  Is that a word?

The bottle remained untouched. Then I was invited to a local whiskey opening where the distiller was debuting his version of a maple flavored whiskey.  I tried it neat, and again not for me. But then I noticed it being served as a Manhattan.  I gave this a shot and like kick to the head, I realized it was time to go back to the beginning.  “Add a freaking mixer you idiot,” I said to myself.

I returned to the home bar, grabbed the apple whiskey. I happened to have Diet Coke on hand, and mixed the two.  Guess what?  Remember the green, apple Jolly Rancher you loved as a kid, now you can drink it.

So, now here I am with a brand new bottle of Jim Beam‘s Vanilla, a vanilla liqueur infused with Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  Someone actually must be reading my blog because I have been asked to try this bottle out and tell you what I think.

Of course I had to start off neat, and I’m glad I did.  It gave me a purer sense of what I’m drinking here.  My first swig is pretty balanced.  The vanilla is very much there, but not overpowering or overwhelming and diffuses the usual burn I get from a sip of Beam neat.  But still I could tell that this was not the way to drink this.

So let me set this up for you. I love Diet Coke.  A few years ago, Coke came out with Diet Vanilla Coke and damn if I wasn’t smitten.  I stocked up on that stuff, not even thinking that it was a limited release. Now, I’m lucky to find Diet Vanilla Coke every year or two.

Now, thanks to Jim Beam, I can combine my love of Diet Vanilla Coke and whiskey and frankly, I’ve never been happier.  This is the new definition of Beam and Coke for me folks.  The Diet Coke cuts the whiskey just right and makes for a cocktail that is now my summer staple.

The trick is to chill your Diet Coke in advance and not use too much ice.  I still believe ice melts to damn quick, thus watering my whiskey down.  This blend not only holds its bite, but delivers past the melt.

Nice work Mr. Beam.

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