For better or for worse, flavored whiskey is having a bit of a moment recently — and peanut butter whiskey in particular seems to be a hot commodity. One of the latest entrants is Sheep Dog, with their 70 proof bottle of peanut butter flavored whiskey. So today we’re putting it to the test to see how it stacks up against the other dogs in this fight (and I promise, that’s the last dog pun).
The Sazerac Company was founded in 1869, named after a bar they acquired in New Orleans, the Sazerac Coffee House. Following the establishment of the company, they started marketing and distributing brands of liquor under their name.
Sazerac maintains its headquarters in New Orleans, but has distilleries in other locations (including Kentucky). They produce liquor under various brand names, despite the lack of the Sazerac name anywhere on the bottle.
This whiskey is marketed as a “whiskey with natural flavors and caramel colors” which is probably the least restrictive kind of appellation. There is very little that the company can’t do to the whiskey before it is packaged and shipped out the door.
Given that description, it is very likely that this started out life as a whiskey (typically a blended whiskey made from part actual aged whiskey and part neutral grain spirits) that has had some natural flavors added to it to make up the peanut butter part of the equation. Exactly what those flavors are is not disclosed so, while I’d like to hope that they used actual peanut butter, we just really don’t know.
It feels like a marketing department threw this together in an afternoon. There is no consistent or coherent story to the label or the bottle, no theme tying it together. Its just the name in big block letters, with a dog paw print instead of an “O”, and some red scribbling. The label is massive but, given that the whiskey is artificially colored, there really isn’t any reason to want to admire the color.
This version is the 375 ml half size bottle, which is made of plastic and has a black screw-on plastic top.
At first sniff, this is a little south of peanut butter in my opinion. I’ve been (un?)fortunate enough to taste a couple incarnations of peanut butter whiskey and it’s a flavor that can be done well, but in this case it almost smells a bit sour. Like peanut butter and vinegar mixed together — something biting and acerbic in what I’d normally expect to be a smooth and buttery smell.
As I put the glass to my lips, the one question screaming in my mind: do I have to? I can back out now, right? Save my taste buds? But alas, we’ve come this far…
From the first instant, things are chaos and confusion. There’s a syrupy consistency to the liquid that you don’t usually expect from a whiskey, followed almost immediately by a severe and thick sugary sweet sensation.
From there, the flavors start coming fast and furious. First up is a brown sugar and vanilla combination that almost tastes like a whiskey, but there’s something off. Like how the Terminator knew that John Connor’s foster mother was dead in T2. It looks OK on the surface, but something just isn’t right.
After sitting with that flavor for a fraction of a second, there’s a combination of things which start creeping in and taste almost like you are licking a raw peanut. I can’t dissect the flavors any further than that, but I can say it is a very raw flavor that is more earthy than you might expect.
As things calm down and the flavor finally coalesces, it tastes like the filling from a Reese’s peanut butter cup, but if they had used stevia instead of sugar. A super artificial flavoring, something that isn’t quite right. That stevia artificially sweet aftertaste also lingers for quite some time.
I’m really not looking forward to three more drinks with this stuff.
I guess there’s some good news here… maybe.
In some flavored whiskey, I’ve noticed that the addition of a bit of ice leads to a “flat diet coke” sort of flavor, but in this case that sweetness is still there — for better or worse. That component hasn’t changed.
What has changed is that the initial flurry of flavor is almost nonexistent. The vanilla and brown sugar, the raw peanut aspect, all of that is suppressed. What you get almost straight away is just the Reese’s peanut butter flavor.
I get the feeling that this is the intended preparation for a shot of this stuff. Maybe not with ice, but at least with a bottle in the freezer. It’s not my cup of tea, but at least it isn’t quite as awful as when taken neat.
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
At first, things seem surprisingly good. The angostura bitters are doing an admirable job keeping the peanut butter in check, and they actually seem to be mixing well. But what was a downright pleasant and fun experience for the background flavors suddenly takes a dramatic and unpleasant turn.
Where this goes off the rails is in the aftertaste. For a few seconds after the spirit is out of your mouth there’s harmony, but that suddenly devolves into bitterness and the overpowering taste of that artificial sweetener.
Much like 2020, it lures you in with a false sense of hope but quickly turns into just another disappointment.
At this point, I’m really just looking for any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Anything that I can point to that can support the idea that this is a whiskey worth spending money on for something other than taking shots on a dare.
Alas, I once again come up empty.
This cocktail tastes like the first 2020 presidential debate. Every flavor is shouting and talking over the other flavors, and there’s no moderator bringing order and harmony to the exercise. Pure, unadulterated chaos. In a glass. With a disgusting fake peanut butter flavor shouting the loudest.
Sad to say, I’ve seen peanut butter whiskey done better. The only thing this whiskey has going for it is the price point — it may be the cheapest version on the market right now. But that price comes at a cost: namely the rather unpleasant flavors and the overly sweet consistency.
There is exactly one way that this whiskey works, and that’s chilled, taken as a shot. If that’s your jam, then jam on. Otherwise whiskey drinkers should jam on down to the next bottle on the shelf. (I promised no more dog puns, I didn’t say anything about PB&J puns!)
|Sheep Dog Peanut Butter Whiskey|
Produced By: Sheep DogOwned By: Sazerac Company
Production Location: United States
Classification: Flavored Whiskey
Special Type: Peanut Butter Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 70% ABV
Price: $14.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 1/5
This sheep dog should be protecting us from itself.