Christmas Spirit in a bottle: Brodsky Herbal Flavored Whiskey (review)
WASHINGTON, December 18, 2017: Sitting down for the first sips of Brodsky Herbal Flavored Whiskey, what it is, versus what is expected is quite the surprise.
“It’s like Christmas in your mouth,” a companion said after a first tentative sip.
And it’s an apt description. One might first want to compare Brodsky to one of the spiced whiskeys, like Red Stag, but it is much more complex than that.
Flavored whiskey’s, like flavored vodkas, have seen increasing popularity among spirits drinkers. Honey, as in Wild Turkey American Honey and Knob Creek Smoke Maple syrup, an homage to distillery founder Booker Noe fondness for the sweet syrup, are both popular with the millennial brown spirits drinker.
Botanicals in Brodsky
Then there are the vaguely medicinal digestif blends that infuse botanicals like saffron, orange peel, cinnamon, and clove to make a warm, decidedly not-sweet spirit. These whiskeys, like Brodsky and Pow-Wow Botanical Rye are taking a blending tip from the Italian Amaro herbal liqueurs that are common after-dinner digestif’s throughout Europe.
With its 100 proof rating and stylized Polish Eagle design, which may reflect the owners Eastern European heritage, either way, the expectation of this Herbal Flavored Whiskey was a glass of Heaven Hill with a cinnamon stick straw.
Could not have been more wrong, I am happy to admit.
Sniff and Taste
First sniff and Brodsky’s high alcohol content is the first thing you notice, but then wait for it, there is the essence of citrus and clove, like an orange studded with cloves in the bottom of your stocking. A bit of pine. And lemongrass.
The aroma layers are there, subtle, but each getting stronger as it warms in your hand and you swirl the golden liquid.
But it’s the taste that matters.
Again, a high proof lends to a little peppery burn on the lips and the tip of the tongue, but its quick. There then gone, replaced by the flavor of licorice, late summer grasses, and burnt oranges.
What is surprising is the bitter taste of juniper berry, or bark, depending on your palate. Its tart, but not unpleasant.
It is hard to suggest a food pairing with this – beyond some very salted, smoked almonds.
Adding water does nothing for the whiskey. Even ice, when melting changes the complexity and appearance. The whiskey also has a slight layer of sediment as a result of the infusion process in which eight herbs (no they do not identify which they are) are cold soaked in the raw spirits before the liquid is aged for 18 months in used bourbon barrels.
The use of those bourbon barrels, with their charred coating, adds some bourbon sweet to the whiskey giving it a smoother finish.
Discussing ways to serve Brodsky include adding it to ice cream for a “winter shake”. Also warmed with a cinnamon stick first dipped in honey, or in a good hot, black tea. Neat, with a slice of lemon, stick of cinnamon and a submerged maraschino cherry may be the best way to serve this unique spirit.
You may also want to try a sugared rim, with a bit of crushed peppermint, for a holiday cocktail.
Brodsky would also be tasty prepared with mulling spices and apple cider. A suggestion would be to create your warm apple cider with spices, then gently add the Brodsky to taste.
As an additive to the chef’s stove, it would do wonders as an additive to a hearty beef stew or pot roast. It would also be tempting to use when making French Onion, apple-sweet potato, carrot, squash or a pumpkin stew. Any dish that combines hearty winter flavors that incorporate warm spices like cardamom, sage, and bay.
As in all liquor based recipes, add Brodsky to taste.
Brodsky Bourbon Cream Shake
3 cups Premium vanilla ice cream, plus more if needed
12 oz Whole milk
3 Ice cubes
2 oz Good-quality bourbon
6 tbsp Simple chocolate syrup, divided (see below)
Place 4 heavy pint glasses in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
Add the ice cream, milk, ice cubes, bourbon and 4 tbsp of the chocolate syrup to a powerful blender.
Blend until smooth.
(A good milkshake should be eaten with a spoon. If the mixture seems too thin, add another .25 to .5 cup ice cream and blend again.
Divide evenly among the prepared glasses and top each with .5 tbsp of the remaining chocolate syrup.
Simple chocolate syrup
¼ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (such as Valrhona)
.5 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Whisk together the cocoa powder and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat until fully dissolved. Whisk in the sugar and increase the heat to medium-high. Boil the mixture for about 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Let cool to room temperature and store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Baileys and Brodsky Cocktail
- 2½ shots of baileys
- 1 shot of Brodsky
- 6 oz of milk
- ice cubes
- Put some ice in your martini shaker and shake all the ingredients together.
- Pour the drinks over ice in 2 cocktail classes.
- Serve and enjoy!