By Richard Thomas
A liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit that has been flavored with fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers or nuts.
About 20 years ago I became acquainted with my first honey bourbon whiskey liqueur, a product that is now known as Wild Turkey American Honey. It was yummy stuff on the rocks, perfect for simple and straightforward hot weather sipping, welcome addition to cold beer. Even today, it remains my gold standard for honey liqueurs, but, in this era of an ever expanding array of whiskey products, it’s sitting atop a big and growing pile.
One such example is Mississippi River Distilling Company’s (MRDC seasonal release, Cody Road Queen Bee, made using regionally sourced honey. MRDC is an Iowa micro-distillery and one of the “Four Kings” of the Mid-West and Upper South, you can find their stuff through Chicago area retailers like Binny’s and in the Quad Cities area. Seeing as how it’s summertime now, if that is your area and you aren’t averse to liqueurs and flavored whiskeys, give this one a spin.
The first thing you will notice about this liqueur is the particulates in the bottle, basically the leftover of mixing honey into the whiskey on a tabletop, craft level as opposed to having a factory process for doing it. I find such things a little charming myself, but keep in mind you should turn the bottle upside down to give it a good mix before giving it a pour.
Like most liqueurs, this was bottled at 35% ABV (60 proof). The craft honey liqueur shows itself here with a murky gold coloring in the glass. A swish leaves lots of veiny legs on the glass.
The nose has a strong honey core, accented by a touch of vanilla and a tinge of alcohol. It’s not a hot nose, but the booze is there, akin to boozy medicine. The flavor is all honey and cereals, and on the palate that alcoholic tinge is just a bit hot. That heat, modest as it is, would be a negative for a drink that is merely 35% ABV, and it’s the finish that redeems it. Once again, it’s all honey and cereals, but there is no residual warmth to it. For summertime rocks drinking, that is a big plus.
Another plus is the price. Although it comes in a skinny 375ml bottle, Queen Bee liqueur can be had for a reasonable $17 or $18 a bottle.