Wild Turkey American Honey (2006)
Flavored whiskies are having a moment, but it was Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell—the longest-tenured, active master distiller in the world, at 61 years and counting—who pioneered the category nearly 40 years ago. He created a honey-infused bourbon whiskey called Wild Turkey Liqueur in 1976 as a sweet and smooth expression to help bourbon reach a wider audience.
Thirty years later, just as flavored vodkas were hitting their stride, the company rebranded the liqueur as Wild Turkey American Honey. The product then took off and paved the way for numerous honey-flavored whiskey liqueurs—both domestic and imported. Wild Turkey, which is owned by Campari America, tapped into the sweet/spicy flavor trend last fall with the launch of American Honey Sting, a combination of Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey and honey with the kick of firery ghost peppers. The brand’s honey whiskies can be enjoyed on the rocks, as a chilled shooter or in numerous cocktails.
Pama pomegranate liqueur (2006)
Pama pomegranate liqueur had more than a few things going for it when it launched nearly a decade ago. For one thing, the pomegranate had recently been hailed as a superfood, and juice from ancient exotic fruit was all the rage.
Craft mixology was just beginning to take off, and Pama woke up the then-sleepy cordials category. Made from the juice of California pomegranates, premium vodka and a touch of imported tequila, the sweet/tart flavor profile was unique for a cordial. And packaged in a tall, elegant bottle, Pama stood out on the backbars and store shelves.
It also doesn’t hurt that the spirit’s rich, crimson color made it a festive option served straight up or as a key ingredient for signature and seasonal drinks. Pama easily mixes with other spirits, so it can be used for specialty recipes or to make a pomegranate version of classics like the Margarita.
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky 2006
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky has caught fire in recent years, particularly with younger, legal-age drinkers. But the spirit has been around for three decades: The brand started out in Canada as Dr. McGillicuddy’s Fireball Cinnamon Whisky under Seagram’s line of flavored schnapps.
Seagram sold the rights to the Dr. McGillicuddy brand, which includes flavors such as Methlomint, Apple Pie and Root Beer, to Sazerac in 1989. But it wasn’t until the new parent company shed the association with Dr. McGillicuddy’s in 2007 that the rebranded Fireball Cinnamon Whisky took off.
Why did consumers suddenly go crazy for the product? For one, the sweet/spicy profile appeals to Millennials and the nostalgia for the fireball candies of their childhoods.
A savvy social media campaign also helped make the brand the go-to shot and inspired a number of sweet/spicy flavored whiskies. And while it’s clearly a shooter brand, Fireball frequently crops up in innovative cocktails as well.