14 Bizarre Whiskey Flavors You Didn’t Know Existed
According to data gathered by Upgraded Points, whiskey is the top-selling hard liquor in the United States. Whiskey is a hard liquor made from distilled grains whose flavors are non-homogeneous. There are many popular types of whiskey, which are separated by both flavor notes and legal restrictions based on what it’s called and how it is produced. Whatever your preference, we just can not seem to get enough of the stuff, whether it is the smokey and peated flavors of Scotch, the spicy notes in rye, or the sweet notes in bourbon.
That being said, there is a whole world beyond the realm of classically flavored whiskey. Most people think of vodka, a relatively neutral spirit, as the liquor with the most flavored variations, but whiskey has its fair share of options, too, some of which are frankly bizarre. This does not mean they are bad; they are simply far-removed from what we would typically see on the shelves of our favorite bars. So, if you are curious about the flavors the world of whiskey has to offer, read on. We have scoured the globe for these incredibly unique whiskey flavors to bring them to you.
1. Peanut Butter Whiskey
First up, we have peanut butter whiskey. This flavor is definitely out of the ordinary. Something that Screwball, the self-professed original peanut butter whiskey, admits. The company was founded by Steven and Brittany Yeng. Steven, who immigrated to the United States as a refugee from Cambodia, encountered peanut butter for the first time in the States.
While working in their restaurant, Steven developed a peanut butter and whiskey cocktail, which became a hit. He then teamed up with his wife, lawyer, and chemist Brittany to develop Screwball. The company describes peanut butter whiskey as "our unconventional ode to different backgrounds, exotic flavors, and the seemingly disparate qualities that make us all unique and united." The flavor is described as sweet and salty and can be sipped neat or used to make a cocktail.
Following their success, other companies, such as Bird Dog, have started making peanut butter whiskey as well. Bird Dog’s variation on the flavor won Gold for Best American Flavored Whiskey at the 2021 World Whiskey Awards. Screwball, too, has taken home a series of awards at the 2020 and 2021 SIP Awards, showing there must be something to this bizarre flavor.
2. Snake and Cobra Whiskey
Many people may be shocked to learn this, but you can buy whiskey with a whole snake inside the bottle. While this may seem unusual, the whiskey itself has a long history. According to Culture Trip, snake whiskey can be found as far back as the Zhou Dynasty in China, which was between 1050 and 221 BCE. It was used as a medicine — a literal snake oil. In northern Vietnam, snake whiskey was offered during courting, as it was said to act as an aphrodisiac. The drink can be found all over Asia and has become a hot tourist item.
With a rise in sales, snake whiskey has become easier to acquire. Thailand Unique offers online sales of multiple varieties, even allowing you to choose the snake that gets infused in it. Some varieties provide additional flavors, such as ginseng root in the mix. Spirits Review describes the end result as offering an oily and fishy taste with a hot finish.
3. Pumpkin Spice Whiskey
Are we even surprised anymore that pumpkin spice has infiltrated yet another aspect of our lives? The flavor really does have a hold on all of us, especially when it comes to the fall season. Just because it is popular, though, does not make its partnership with whiskey any less bizarre.
Of course, there are many companies jumping on the pumpkin whiskey bandwagon. The first is a play of the season favorite Pumking, released by Southern Tier. Pumking is made from a fermented mash of hops, malts, pumpkin, and spices. Pumking Whiskey is made by the distilling branch of the company and brings the same classic flavor to its whiskey.
Revel Stoke has also released a pumpkin spiced whiskey, and the brand Ole Smoky Tennessee Distillery has come out with a pumpkin spice cream whiskey, akin to what Baileys might be like if it produced a pumpkin spice liqueur. Which of course, they did (via Bailey’s). We sure hope you like pumpkin spice because there is now no way to escape it, even in your whiskey.
4. Beaver Gland Whiskey
You read that correctly. Go ahead, and read it again. We will wait. That’s right. This next whiskey is made from the castor gland of the North American beaver. The whiskey in question is called Eau De Musc and is made by Tamworth Distilling, based out of Tamworth, New Hampshire.
As Journal for Chemical Ecology notes, the castor sack is located "between the pelvis and the base of the tail," or what we non-scientists might refer to as their butt. We are sure you will find this beaver butt whiskey incredibly enticing. The whiskey is made from an oil extracted from the gland, which is said to give the taste of vanilla. It is then infused in a two-year-aged whiskey with additional ingredients such as birch oil, raspberry, and snakeroot.
What many people may find even more shocking is that, as National Geographic notes, the use of the castor gland is actually a fairly common "natural flavor" in other foods. Tamworth Distilling is just more up-front about it.
It may help those who are interested in trying this whiskey to know the company works to be sustainable and sources their beaver glands from a professional trapper. The glands otherwise would have otherwise gone to waste.
5. Fish Whiskey
There are some things you simply do not expect to find in your glass of Scotch, and one of those things is fish. But that is where you are woefully wrong because there is a whiskey called Fishky, made from single malt Scotch whisky that has been aged in herring casks to finish it. The whiskey is made by a German company, which seems to be now defunct, although bottles of the product can still be found on the internet for those who want to try it.
That being said, we are not sure you want to try it. We enjoy a punny name as much as the next person, however, reviews of Fishky have not been kind. Malt-Review gave it a one out of ten possible stars, and described taking a sip as something the reviewer regretted immediately. A reviewer for Whiskey Cask described it as "by far the worst whisky I’ve ever tasted," with tasting notes of brine and stomach acid, and an oily finish. There are a lot of other bizarre whiskeys on this list, so if you feel the need to branch out, you may wish to pick from one of the others.
6. Spicy Whiskey
Whiskey has a characteristic bite and warmth, and rye-based whiskey, in particular, is known for its spicy notes. While this is all well and good, when we say spicy whiskey, we do not mean it as in notes of spices. Instead, we are looking at whiskey that has chosen to intensify some of the existing characteristics by bringing the heat.
George Dickel, a Tennessee whiskey brand, partnered with Tabasco, one of the oldest commercial hot sauce companies in the United States. The end result was a Tabasco Barrel Finish product, meaning the whiskey was aged in the barrels used to make Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce. The result is a spicy, peppery whiskey packaged in what is made to look like a giant Tabasco bottle with a red top. A nice touch, indeed.
Rogue Farms also makes a spicy whiskey. This time, the whiskey is distilled with Rogue Farms chipotle peppers. Finally, of course, not to be left out, Bird Dog makes a sweet and spicy Jalapeño Honey whiskey. This balanced whiskey won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
7. Gingerbread Whiskey
It turns out that pumpkin spice is not the only seasonal flavor making a mark on this list. If you want to get into the holiday spirit, may we recommend our next bizarre whiskey flavor: Gingerbread. The wintertime treat offers some overlap with the pumpkin spice world, frequently sharing flavors such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
Bird Dog is the flavored whiskey brand crazy enough to try this one. Its Gingerbread Whiskey is one of the company’s newer flavors, and it offers flavors of ginger and cinnamon, which blend with bourbon. With bourbon already having a naturally sweet and spicy taste, we can see how this unconventional flavor combination just might work.
Canadian company Spicebox also makes Gingerbread Whiskey. It’s unsurprising with a name like Spicebox that the company would produce some uniquely spiced whiskey. This time the base is a rye whiskey, which offers a distinct spicy note and is paired with freshly grated ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and molasses. If you are looking for something out of the box, this could be the choice for you.
8. Chocolate Whiskey
Look, we know that both chocolate and whiskey are two of life’s greatest gifts to humankind, however, putting the two together is not necessarily what we had in mind. Still, companies have done it, and the results are certainly unique.
Heritage Distilling out of Seattle, Washington, produces what they call Cocoa Bomb chocolate whiskey. It is a whiskey with a clear chocolaty brown color and contains cocoa, dark chocolate, and marshmallow flavors.
Coming from a heritage angle, Canadian brand Spicebox makes a chocolate spiced rye. The company says that Canadian bootleggers used old cocoa barrels to age and transport their whiskey. As a result, Spicebox has notes of cocoa beans, vanilla, and nutmeg. Finally, not to be left out, flavored whiskey company Bird Dog, of course, makes a milk chocolate flavored whiskey.
All of these are clear whiskeys infused with chocolate. Bailey’s, which contains Irish Whiskey, makes a rich Chocolate Luxe cream liquor with Belgian chocolate. The chocolate whiskey pairing seems to be two classic flavors bound to find a home in one bottle.
9. Chocolate and..
We would be remiss, of course, if we mentioned chocolate whiskey without mentioning the company Ballotin. Ballotin Whiskey was founded in Louisville, Kentucky, and chocolate whiskey is what they do. You may be wondering why they did not get mentioned above. Well, it is because they don’t just make Original Chocolate. Instead, Ballotin gets even more bizarre and has made a number of flavored whiskey combos that are both strange and perhaps uniquely appealing.
The company offers a combination of multiple flavors that can be found on this list, like Peanut Butter Chocolate. They also have Bourbon Ball, Chocolate Toffee, Caramel Turtle, and Chocolate Mint. They even offer several chocolate cream-based flavors such as Chocolate Cherry Cream, Chocolate Mocha Cream, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream — which is separate from their regular Chocolate Peanut Butter.
The company’s slogan says "dangerously good," and with bizarre flavors like these, we too like to live dangerously.
10. Reindeer Antler Whiskey
This is another one of those flavors that make you wonder who first thought to put that in whiskey. According to Thailand Unique, the reindeer horn has been used in South Eastern Asian cultures to improve health and vitality. As a liquor, it belongs to a family of herbal whiskeys called Yaa Dong in Thailand. This style of whiskey has been made for centuries and can comprise over 200 herbs and other ingredients when made and usually uses a base of rice whiskey.
This particular whiskey is made from reindeer horns and unspecified herbs. It is said to have an earthy woody taste, with a slight sweet licorice finish. This does not sound all that out there, considering the wood and earthy flavors that many other whiskeys take on from being aged in wooden barrels. Still, we did not expect to find reindeer antlers as one of the ingredients in this herbal whiskey.
11. Coffee Whiskey
It is no secret that we drink a lot of coffee. When you need to wake up in the morning, coffee is always there for you. It never lets you down. While coffee is a stimulant making you pep up and more alert, whiskey, on the other hand, acts as a depressant in the body, slowing down functions. The two, while both delicious and commonplace in an everyday life, are basically chemical opposites. That is why it is so bizarre that these two drinks, both strong in flavor and effect in their own way, were mixed together to create coffee whiskey.
Devils River Whiskey, based out of San Antonio, Texas, makes a coffee bourbon. They start with coffee beans roasted and turned into a cold brew that uses whiskey instead of water. Then to lighten the flavor, they add agave. Popular Irish whiskey brand Jameson also makes its own Cold Brew, which seems to take a page out of the Irish coffee cocktail book. Finally, Kentucky Coffee makes a coffee whiskey that plays upon classic cowboy imagery. Like many of us do nowadays, the cowboys of the Wild West frequently started their day with a cup of coffee and ended it with a drink. These companies did us the favor by mixing the two together, so now you only need one drink for the whole day.
12. Pie Whiskey
Want to have your cake and drink it, too? How about your pie? There seems to have actually been an entire company dedicated to pie-flavored whiskey. The company was appropriately named Piehole. Not much information is available on the company, and it may no longer still be around, as the website domain is available and its Twitter has not been active. Thirty One Whiskey reports the company was a sub-brand of alcohol giant Diageo. This could explain how even though the company is a bit MIA, you can still find bottles of the brand’s Pecan Pie, Cherry Pie, and Apple Pie flavors widely available on the internet.
To say pie-flavored whiskey is a niche market may even be an understatement. But Piehole is not the only one doing it. Iron Smoke Distillery’s line Rattlesnake Rossie’s offers an Apple Pie Whiskey, featuring corn whiskey, upstate New York apple cider, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar. The brand also released a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Bourbon Cream. We are slightly overwhelmed with these choices, because any one of those flavors individually makes an oddball flavor. But, hey, what is more American than bourbon and pie? We may just try it.
13. Cookie Flavored
Cookie dough is one of life’s great treats. It does not even need to be baked. There is something just so indulgent and relaxing about eating cookie dough, whether straight from the bowl, in bite-sized form, or mixed into a pint of ice cream. Where we did not expect to find it, though, was in our whiskey. But that is just what Dough Ball Cookie Dough Whiskey is. The company is a family-owned business based on a love of cookies, whiskey, and their bulldog named Dough Ball, the latter of whom is featured on the bottles. It is a bizarre flavor combo, but we really can not argue with any of those flavors. Reviewers on Total Wine seem to really like it, too, with many recommending mixing it with cream soda.
Dough Ball can be hard to find as they are a family-run operation and are not currently available in every state, but if cookies and whiskey sounds good to you, do not fret as Ole Smoky Tennessee Distillery has you covered. They also offer a Cookie Dough Whiskey, which is available as a limited release. It is based on the flavor of chocolate chip cookies. They also offer a classic combo with a whiskey twist, a Cookies & Cream Whiskey, which is a cream liquor with all the sweet baked flavor of cookies combined with deep whiskey goodness. With this available, perhaps Santa will want a different kind of cookie put out next year.
14. Bacon whiskey
Bacon whiskey. It sounds odd. Yet, there is something about it that begs for it to not be ignored. Bacon does have a history of making everything better, but you also do not expect to find it in your whiskey. Once upon a time, there was a label called Ol’ Major Bacon Bourbon. The bourbon was a mix of the two flavors, which the company admits was "crazy" but was said to be delicious. Sadly, reviews on Total Wine were not great, and the brand seems to have been discontinued.
But that is where Rattlesnake Rosie’s Maple Bacon Bourbon comes to the rescue. Using Iron Smoke Distillery bourbon, this whiskey is infused with New York Grade A maple syrup and smoked bacon flavor. And it seems to be a hit, with a 2020 win for "Best Flavored Whiskey" in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
We are not sure who the market for this bourbon is, other than Ron Swanson, of course, but we think there are probably people out there who see bacon whiskey and know that today is the day they step out of their comfort zone and into the bottle.