If there’s one thing that really disagrees with my taste buds, it’s cinnamon flavored whiskey. But what about when that whiskey isn’t even whiskey, but instead a “fortified wine” with some cinnamon added, and which is commonly sold at convenience stores? Well… that sounds like a recipe for disaster.
In most states, it takes a special license to be able to sell and distribute distilled spirits — a license that isn’t typically granted to gas stations and convenience stores. But what is available for these types of shops are beer and wine licenses, allowing these stores to sell non-distilled alcohol products such as (you guessed it) beer and wine.
This is where our hero (or villain, depending on your attachment to your taste buds) comes into the story. A company named Brookstone Distilling Co, reportedly a subsidiary of the gigantic Sazerac distilling company that also owns Buffalo Trace, saw an untapped market to provide a product that looked and smelled like a whiskey (or vodka, or Fireball) but wasn’t actually a whiskey… and would therefore would be legal to sell in a convenience store.
Thus was born the line of pseudo-spirits that currently graces convenience store shelves.
There’s no website for these spirits, and barely a mention of the distillery from whence they came, making providing any further detail on the history of this stuff difficult to find.
Technically, none of these products from Brookstone Distillery Company are distilled. They are, as they are labeled, “grape wine with natural flavor and caramel color” — or basically a fortified wine disguised as the spirit it’s trying to be for Halloween. What that means is they make a wine, then proof it to the maximum alcohol content allowed by each state in a wine, add a bunch of flavors and coloring, and slap a label on it before shipping it out the door.
We’ve looked at the pseudo-whiskey “Traditional Herd Creek Blended Special Select” before and this seems to be along the same vein, but with a significant helping of cinnamon added to the mixture.
This fortified wine is packaged in a bottle that looks, for all intents and purposes, like a common “cheap” hip flask bottle of liquor. It’s an all plastic bottle with a squared body and a plastic cap.
There are exactly two labels on this bottle.
The first and largest is the Flash Point branding, which does a careful job of evoking a Fireball whiskey label without ever actually calling itself a whiskey. It even uses the same color scheme as Fireball but the logo is a… wine bottle with a slide? I think? Even if they’re going for some kind of firefighter theme, an inflatable slide is an odd choice compared to a ladder. Or a fire engine. Or really, almost anything else.
The rear label is the least interesting of the two, containing only the legally required disclosures and a bar code.
While everything about this branding might scream “cinnamon whiskey”, they do a very careful job to avoid calling it that, hence why this is just a “review” and not the usual “whiskey review”.
I can smell it from halfway across the room: that sickeningly sweet, yet cinnamon spiced aroma of terror. And that’s not terror as in the fun kind, that’s terror as in “why am I subjecting my taste buds to this train wreck of a product?”
It smells exactly like a Red Hot candy, and for the most part it tastes that way too. There’s an absurdly large quantity of cinnamon in here and some seriously overpowering sugar, but there’s also a problem: it’s watery and tastes diluted even from the start. Fireball, flawed as it may be, at least provides a significant alcohol kick to complete the experience, which is something that this Flash Point can’t deliver with its paltry 16% alcohol content.
With the added ice at least the aroma is now tolerable, but it actually makes the taste worse.
The problem with this liquid (note the avoidance of the word “spirit” here) is that it doesn’t have the weight and the body of a properly alcoholic concoction. That alcohol content is important to the experience. Diluting the liquid even further removes even more of that punch and basically makes this a slightly alcoholic cup of cinnamon flavored sugar.
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
Just like with Fireball whiskey, the added bitters and orange flavors are completely lost. The cinnamon and the sugar are so overpowering that there isn’t even a hint of any impact they may have had.
It’s like putting a single drop of Cholula in a 55 gallon vat of blue cheese sauce. There’s no way you’re going to detect that.
I don’t even know why I wasted the ginger beer on this. I knew what the result was going to be, and yet I still made myself a “mule” and gave it a whirl. And what I got was a fizzy glass of disgusting.
There might be some redeeming qualities — the watered down nature of the product does give a glimmer of hope that the cinnamon and the ginger beer can play nice — but that sickeningly sweet sugar content just makes me reflexively pour the drink down the drain and want to grab something else.
I thought Fireball was a pretty awful experience but it turns out that it can, in fact, get worse. At least Fireball is a competent version of that “singe your taste buds and nose hairs” concept, this is just a cheap knock-off that can’t even pull off being terrible correctly.
Flash Point Cinnamon
Owner: Brookstone Distilling Company
Production: Owensboro, KY
Classification: Fortified Wine
Grain bill: N/A
Proof: 16% ABV
Price: $8 / 750ml
Overall Rating: 0/5
I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I actually found something so bad that Fireball is a preferable option.