Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tennessee Fire in the Hole

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

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It's difficult to appreciate what a bunch of Fireball fans that Nashvillians are. Since the cinnamon-flavored whiskey was introduced in Music City, we have become Fireball's No. 1 market by far, as brahs and bachelorettes indulge in glass after glass of the fiery elixir. I love the fact that the official designation of this spirit category (which also includes Jägermeister and Rumple Minze) is "challenge shots."

Apparently, the big boys have taken notice of (y)our insatiable thirst for Fireball, because Jack Daniel's has rolled out a new brand extension called Tennessee Fire. The 70-proof liqueur is priced in line with their most recent line addition, Tennessee Honey, and is made by infusing Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey with a proprietary red-hot cinnamon liqueur.

Initially, the product is being rolled out only in Tennessee, Oregon and Pennsylvania. (Y'know ... our sister states.) However, if Tennessee Fire spreads like wildfire, expect to see it available nationally soon. Having tried it myself (strictly as a journalistic exercise, of course), I have to say Tennessee Fire is a bit mellower than Fireball. The sweetness of the whiskey comes through a little better, even if it is masked by the cloying syrupy Red Hots candy overtones. If that's what you're going for, more power to you, buddy. It'll definitely get you where you want to go.

Flavored whiskeys are experiencing explosive growth, partly as a gateway spirit for new whiskey drinkers and also as a way to stretch the dwindling supplies of precious brown liquor.

Tennessee Honey has been the most successful launch in Brown Forman history, and as I mentioned before, Fireball machines are taking up valuable bartop geography in watering holes all over the country. From 2011 to 2013, Fireball's U.S. retail sales grew from $1.9 million to an incredible $61 million, passing Patrón tequila and Jameson's Irish Whiskey. And that doesn't even count bar sales.

Fireball was initially named "Dr. McGillicuddy’s Fireball Cinnamon Whisky" and was quite popular in Canada. But once they shortened the name and rolled it out in America, the brand took off and is within striking distance of passing Jäger as the nation's favorite shot.

Not to be undone or left behind, the Jim Beam folks are also in the process of releasing their own flare-up of fiery bourbon, which they have creatively named "Kentucky Fire." (I guess there's never really anything new under the sun.) Look for that later this summer.

As Jason and the Scorchers told us back in 1984, "Help, There's a Fire!"

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