Phillips Union Cherry Flavoured Whiskey (Princeton, MN, USA)

  • My Rating: [D+], not recommended.

Cherry Flavoured Whiskey – Phillips Union (Phillips Distilling Company), 35% ABV, 750ml., (Princeton, Minnesota, USA)


My thoughts:

-When I drink whiskey I like it both neat or in a classic cocktail, especially a Manhattan. Here we have a flavoured whiskey that could potentially be decent as a sipper, or perhaps enhance the Manhattan experience. In my experience, ‘flavoured’ spirits can vary from intolerable to pedestal worthy. Let’s jump into it shall we?


from the Phillips website:

“Phillips Union Whiskey is the first-ever blend of Kentucky Bourbon and Canadian Whisky. It’s a smooth, flavorful spirit, without burn or bitterness, that comes in cherry and vanilla flavor, as well as the easy-sipping original.”


  • Style: (flavoured – cherry) Whiskey
  • Taste: Liquor Depot / Edmonton
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $31.10 CAD – 750ml., October 2009
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this whiskey aficionados: no
  • Would I recommend this in a cocktail: no

Visual: (cellared for 8 years). Pours a very light honey brown, noticeably lighter in colour than other whiskeys.

Nose: medicinal sweet cough syrup cherry, background medium nasal tingly, grain alcohol notes. (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: incoming sweetness, fruity impression

Mid-palate: (lvl-6-sweetness), cough syrup cherry,

Finish: dull caramel whiskey, medium alcohol heat, light throat warmth, residual ‘cherry’ exhale

Overall smoothness: not good, too sweet and rough in the mids.

Summary: I don’t know where they got this “natural cherry flavour” from but it surely doesn’t taste like any naturally grown cherry that I’ve ever had. The whiskey base is too weak and one-note to hold up to the overbearing cherry. You get a 70% fake cherry and 30% whiskey experience. Thus, as a sipper – No good; Ok, so how about in one of my favs, a Manhattan?

(2:1, 3 dashes Angostura, cocktail cherry garnish)

Notes: In this cocktail I used dry vermouth instead, accounting for the inherent sweetness of Phillips Union Cherry. The result? Still too much of the medicinal cherry sweetness up front, weak whiskey mids and the vermouth kicking in at the finish. The transitions between the layers are too rough, making the experience unelegant, but at least drinkable. I would rather have a higher quality bourbon/whiskey in PU Cherry’s place in order to pump up the caramel and woody notes. Thus, in a cocktail, No good. Bottom line: not recommended.

Root Beer Liqueur Round 1 – Phillips VS Blackmaker Liqueur

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Here we go! I love root beer. Even as an adult, I can’t enough of the stuff. But I’ve since graduated from the HFCS A&Ws, Barqs, Mugs, and onto the finer Virgil’s, Boylans, and various Orca beverages. Heck I even brewed a few bottles of my own (without much success due to not having sassafras). Anyhow I’m excited to get started as this head-to-head contains two things I love dearly – ROOT BEER + ALCOHOL!

1) Root Beer Schnapps – Phillips Distilling Co.,15% ABV – 750ml, (Princeton, MN, USA), $21.50 CAD @ BCLiquor Stores

  • Ingredients: water, sugar, alcohol, natural flavour, citric acid, glycerin, colour
  • technically a “liqueur” since it has sugar added
  • cheap bottle, plastic cap, gaudy sticker label
  • the recipe on the back says it all:

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2) Root Beer Liqueur – Blackmaker Brand – White Rock Distilleries, 35% ABV – 750ml, (Lewiston, MN, USA), $29 (w/ 10% off) CAD @ Sherbrooke (EDM)

  • HEAVY duty bottle, coat of arms on the back, classy artistic label
  • ingredients include: ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and sweet birch (via BevMo)

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Criteria

Nose: Phillips has sarsaparilla/caramel that you typically find in sodas; alcohol detection surfaces in the mid to finish. Light-medium pungency, clean, not offensive. Blackmaker (BM), wow huge burnt caramel/toffee, cinnamon, clove, almost nutty, with birch poking through in the finish. Med-high tingly alcohol nasal burn, bearable. Phillips = stereotypical root beer soda, BM = naturally spiced caramel. Phillips is much more approachable, BM is way more complex.

Taste & Texture: 1st sip of Phillips, big sugar rush… Lighter viscosity, compounding sugars each subsequent sip. Tastes pretty much as it smells, but cut abruptly by the cloying sweetness and alcoholic warmth. Definitely not a sipper. BM is in an entirely different class. Thicker but not syrupy, the flavours come in alternating waves of spices and alcoholic warmth. Lots of spices here including cinnamon, clove, birch, ginger, licorice/anise, caramel, fading out with lots of alcoholic throat warmth. The sweetness is well masked by the torrent of spices and high ABV but you can feel the sugars tingling on your teeth. Not good if you’re prone to cavities. Still, perceived sweetness is much, much lower than Phillips. Phillips = light root beer+SUGAR, BM = spices+alcohol HEAT

Final Notes:

  • Blackmaker for sophisticated, flavourful cocktails
  • Phillips for “Root Beer Barreling” (shot dropped into beer, chug), batch cocktails

WINNER = Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur