By Richard Thomas
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky has received a lot of attention lately as the red hot (pun intended) flavored whisky commodity, gulped down by college kids by the quart and inspiring a legion of imitators. Until 2012, it was an obscure product available mostly in Canada. Yet a little slick marketing and some repositioning in the midst of the larger whiskey boom and, bang!, it became a viral success story. It is now one of the top 10 liquor brands in the U.S.
Between being popular and being a flavored whiskey, plenty of whiskey snobs won’t go near the stuff even to find out what the hubbub is all about. Yet the popular image, that Fireball is consumed only by partying sorority girls who weren’t drinking whiskey before and won’t be afterward isn’t exactly true. To cite just one example I have come across, when I was talking with May 2010 Playmate Kassie Logsdon about her tastes in whiskey, she told me about how she started with Jack Daniels and Fireball only lately became her go-to.
So, who is drinking all that Fireball isn’t as cut and dried as naysayers and their stereotypes would make it seem, although I think it true that many a conservative, diehard whiskey drinker steers clear of the stuff. Even so, that leaves the larger question of if you don’t scoff at flavored whiskey on principle, is Fireball the best of its type?
Keeping things simple, this stuff is candy, plain and simple. There is barely any whiskey element at all in the nose or flavor, and the finish is so light as to border on the undetectable. Instead, the drink is liquid cinnamon toast. This is so much the case that even the alcohol is only a note, something helped along by its 33% abv no doubt.
The first point to make of that is I can easily see why the stuff is so popular. During the summer months, I wouldn’t mind having a bottle in the fridge, so I could pour it cold onto ice and drink it like it was Coca Cola. It’s at least as good on its own as a Jack and Coke.
At the same time, it’s not what a whiskey fan is really looking for. The cinnamon sweetness (and it’s not a hot cinnamon in the main) is so powerful as to obviously be covering for how young the spirit is. Keeping that in mind, it’s amazing the stuff is as mellow as it is.
Finally, it matches up well against other flavored whiskeys and liqueurs. I prefer it to Bird Dog Hot Cinnamon and others like it. Against the larger picture, however, it does not displace Wild Turkey American Honey in my affections.
At roughly $9 for a hip bottle (375 ml), $18 for a full bottle and $28 for a 1.75 ml, Fireball is neither cheap nor expensive.