By Richard Thomas
Just like vodka before it, whiskey is experiencing a boomtime-driven expansion into the area of flavored liquor. These days it seems every big distillery is either getting into secondary maturation, or barrel finishing, or producing flavored whiskey. Honey whiskey has been getting much of the attention lately, both in the U.S. and the U.K., but it’s not the only player in flavoring whiskey, as Bird Dog amply demonstrates.
Hawking its wares under the tagline “this dog don’t bite,” Bird Dog’s line begins and ends with flavored bourbon. Because the whiskey does not bear the appellation “straight,” and because Bird Dog does not claim to have its own distillery, we know that the bourbon in question is both sourced and under two years old. Add to that the knowledge that flavored whiskey of this type is usually meant for cocktails (see Jim Beam Red Stag or DYC Red One), and the questions become 1) what does the flavoring do for the immature whiskey; 2) is that enough to make it drinkable on its own?
The BourbonBird Dog Peach is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv) in a clear glass bottle with a nice wood and cork stopper. That in and of itself is something noteworthy, since you don’t see too many fifth-bottles of whiskey in the $20 range sporting a nice stopper like that.
My guess is the peach flavoring has darkened what would otherwise be a very young-looking bourbon, because the coloring in tthe glass is honey gold. The nose is very peachy and sweet, like strongly brewed peach tea. Just a hint of vanilla and a very slight alcoholic tinge are, in fact, all that lies there to remind you it isn’t strong peach tea.
The flavor follows from there, with no surprises: super strong sweet peach with a shot of vanilla. A slight, cloying, alcoholic astringency lies underneath, a reminder of the young and unremarkable whiskey at the center of the drink. The finish is of moderate warmth and length, leaving a syrupy, peachy aftertaste.
Although I fail to see much point to drinking Bird Dog Peach neat, I can see much merit to it as a summertime whiskey served on the rocks. Putting it on ice in no way dulls the flavor, and turns it into a rather refreshing drink. I imagine it would be dynamite as an iced tea mixer, but that will need to wait for another time. The 50ml sample bottle I picked up only went so far.
Another big virtue of Bird Dog Peach is the price: a full 750ml bottle typically runs $20.