View Full Version : Bizarre new hybrid whisk(e)y - "Phillips Union"

03-20-2005, 12:57
There was an ad for this stuff in one of my girlfriend's fashion magazines, and I'd never heard of it before: "Phillips Union," marketed with the slogan "Revolution Smooth."

Their logo (at least the Phillips part) looks suspiciously like that of the electronics giant. Maybe it can Bluetooth with your snifter.

According to them, this "luxurious blend of Kentucky Bourbon and Canadian Whisky makes harshness a thing of the past, one silky sip of salvation at a time."

It's available in standard, Vanilla, and Cherry flavors. The bottle design owes something to Woodford Reserve.

Anybody tried this stuff or know anything more about it?

Flash website: http://revolutionsmooth.com/


edit: Frankly, I'm not sure just where a post like this belongs. Moved it here to keep the stuff from contaminating everyone's collection http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif -- JB

03-20-2005, 13:26
Interesting. I've been blending bourbon and Canadian whisky at home for years, sometimes adding flavoring, looks like this is the same idea. Nothing bizarre about it.

It is put out by Phillips Distilling of Minneapolis. Seems to be a dealer (not a distiller but I am not sure), long-established in liquors of various kinds, many flavoured, e.g. Revelstoke spiced whisky, Sourpuss (quite popular in Canada), various peppermint-flavoured drinks, and the like. They have a Phillips line of vodkas too. I guess being near Canada they buy our whisky in bulk and of course the bourbon and then blend them to their specific recipes. I'd like to try these products.

By the way, a timeline on the Phillips Distilling web site said a salesman in the 1930's developed for the company a peppermint schnapps when he noticed customers in bars putting peppermint candies in their "whiskey".

Now think guys, this is the mid-30's, why would they have been doing that in bars?


03-20-2005, 16:38
I saw these on the shelf at one of my favorite stores several days ago, while checking to see how many Hirsch 16s were left. The flavored ones are only 70 proof, but the bottles call the contents whiskey, which, as Chuck reminded us in another thread, is illegal: it is diluted whiskey.
Personally, I think this is a wildly bad idea: something concocted just for trendoid brown vodka drinkers. I would refuse it if offered: just a bad, bad idea. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif Ed V.

03-20-2005, 17:10
Until I try them I won't know how these drinks taste, but my versions don't taste like brown vodka.


03-21-2005, 12:44
Why was this thread moved? As far as I can tell, this stuff is still "whiskey" in some form. It says so on the bottle, at any rate.

03-21-2005, 14:21
Alright I'll answer my own question since nobody bit: because the bourbon and rye whiskey available (at a decent price) in the immediate post-Repeal era was young and/or had GNS or light whiskey added (160-190 proof range whiskey), adding peppermint candies added additional sweetness and a wintergreen or mint-like tang. Just like aged bourbon should have.


03-21-2005, 15:13
I'll be my own interlocutor (this is fun) and say, but how did they know what genuine aged bourbon or rye was like since its production stopped in about 1919?

Well [in reply] they would have known the "medicinal" whiskey available during Prohibition and that was good regular whiskey, so that's how they'd know. And maybe they bought good bootleg bourbon (if there was such a thing), so that's how they'd know, too.

Okay but hold your horses: if they had the sawbucks to buy and therefore knew the good medicinal (straight) whiskey or good bootleg why didn't they just buy the expensive but available pre-Pro whiskey that was still being sold in the market post-1933? That woulda given 'em that mint alright.

Well, maybe that price was too high for them by then, or maybe they just couldn't get their hands on any, OR maybe it was too woody in taste by then.


Either which way, people don't just add peppermint candies (sayeth I, seeing all the religious talk going on) for nothing, they had a reason - it was because it made the cheap whiskey ("puntang whiskey" in the um, interesting phrase used by Fortune Magazine in 1933) or young straight whiskey predominantly available in the mid-1930's bearable - they knew that real old-time whiskey don't worry your head how, they just did. Okay? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif


03-21-2005, 15:33
Why was this thread moved? As far as I can tell, this stuff is still "whiskey" in some form. It says so on the bottle, at any rate.

U.S. federal regs mandate that 'whiskey' be at least 80 proof. Despite what name appears on the bottle, this blend apparently isn't legal whiskey, since it appears to be 70 proof. That's my 'take', anyhow. If that's not it, I guess whoever actually moved it can tell you.

03-21-2005, 16:34
edit: Frankly, I'm not sure just where a post like this belongs. Moved it here to keep the stuff from contaminating everyone's collection -- JB

Edited by jbutler (Mon Mar 21 2005 12:01 AM)

I guess whoever actually moved it can tell you.

03-21-2005, 20:11
I tried it at the recent WOW festival in SF a few weeks ago, wasn't terribly impressed. (and I didn't dare go for the flavored ones)I rather like the distinctive flavors of bourbon and canadian, (they are both excellent types of whisky)and putting them together just seems to make things too complex. However, it was smooth and easy to drink, along the lines of blended scotch (I really have a hard/impossible time picking out the distilleries that contributed the single malt to the blend) I suppose they might be trying for a younger crowd that might prefer the taste of th infused flavors, but for me, the straighter the better....I'll hold final opinion for a time when the opportunity to tase in a better situation/setting. best regards, doug

03-21-2005, 20:36
The thread move was quite appropriate because it is not, in fact, whiskey. It is a different category known as "flavored whiskey." There are specific rules for flavored whiskey as well as for flavored brandy, flavored gin, flavored rum, and flavored vodka. Maybe your drinking youth was different from mine, but I remember something we would try to get our hands on called "cherry vodka." Another favorite was "peach brandy." The "peach brandy" wasn't brandy made from peaches, it was "flavored brandy," which is regular (very cheap, unaged) brandy (from wine), plus a flavoring agent and, in that case and in the case of "cherry vodka," sugar. But it wasn't a liqueur, it was "flavored vodka" or "flavored brandy." As I said, it's a category in its own right. They can be as low as 60 proof (30% ABV). The name of the predominant flavor must appear as a part of the name. One of the Phillips products appears to be "whiskey flavored whiskey," but it looks like that's legal.

"And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

03-21-2005, 22:07
Whatever this stuff is or isn't they sure seen to be quite proud of it. Out of curiosity I checked the pricing at BevMo site and it's 24.99 for 750ml of any flavor. Excuse me, but I can even pay Internetwines inflated prices for 750ml bottles of Canadian Mist and Evan Williams, add water to take it down to 70 proof and still have a couple of bucks left over for about a gallon of similar product. Go ahead and sell it to the poseurs, I'll take the real McCoy.

03-22-2005, 01:16
I find depending on mood sometimes I want to have a bourbon or other whiskey drink that is slightly flavoured. My way to do this is make a cocktail at home, generally a Manhattan, but sometimes an Old-Fashioned. The How To Drink Bourbon thread is a useful one which reminds us that flavouring whiskey lightly in this way is a time-honoured way to consume it. E.g., Tim's pleasant experience with bourbon and ginger (called a Horse's Neck) is nothing other than creating a ginger-flavoured whiskey. I am willing to consider flavored whiskey that is pre-made. For some reason, pre-made cocktails never took off, Heublein tried for years and years but people never really took to them. Maybe it will be different for this range of flavoured whiskies. A lot depends on what kind of balanace they are getting of whiskey, flavor and sweetness. I guess it is unlikely I would buy a bottle because I already have the knowledge to make a flavored whiskey at home but I might try one as an experiment and who knows maybe I'd like it. Whiskey will never or rarely appeal to a younger (say, 25-40) audience who has no experience with it in its original pristine form. It is an acquired taste and so a product like these flavored whiskies may be a good way to accustom people to the taste who may after start to like whiskey straight or at least with cola or another mixer. Not long ago while on holiday I met a Kentucky tobacco farmer who lived near Versailles. He enjoyed bourbon and said Knob Creek was his favourite. He knew a bit about the industry and had had relatives who worked in it, I recall his telling he had a gallon of whiskey made at a distillery just before it closed, it may have been Old Taylor. Anyway I asked him how he liked to drink bourbon. He said he always took it with cola because he "liked some cut on it". That puts it perfectly for many people.


03-22-2005, 04:35
Excuse me, but I can even pay Internetwines inflated prices for 750ml bottles of Canadian Mist and Evan Williams, add water to take it down to 70 proof and still have a couple of bucks left over for about a gallon of similar product.

They addressed that very subject on their web-site www.phillipsunion.com (http://www.phillipsunion.com) (click "The Story", and after the damned thing finishes animating itself, click "Q&A" and then "more" at the bottom).


A: You could, but it wouldn't be Phillips Union. Our proprietary blend and state-of-the-art blending methods ensure the two whiskeys are proportionately and properly married for maximum flavor and smoothness.

So, there you have it kids. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif

03-22-2005, 09:03
Hey they haven't tasted my personal blends of bourbon and Canadian whisky. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif I am always glad to see what others who share my notion can come up with. I am going to buy the unflavored one if I can find it, and will report well and truly here. The concept is sound, the Canadian whisky should plane out as it were the bourbon edges but without effacing its quality, the richness. But a lot depends on what you blend and the proportions, in fact, everything depends on it. I think a rich Canadian whisky would go well with a rich bourbon, e.g. 3:1 Elmer Lee to Hiram Walker's Special Old. Whereas, say, Basil Hayden's dry, wheaties-like taste would probably marry well with CC 10 year old. Forty Creek's fruity Three Grain (which, as I think on it, strikes me as a variation on the fruity Maryland style of rye whiskey) might marry well to a straight whiskey with a similar quality (maybe Woodford Reserve, or ORVW 13 year old rye), and so forth. There are lots of possibilities, and I don't know yet how Phillips is approaching it. If theirs is 90% Canadian and 10% bourbon I don't know if it would be all that good but I retain an open mind and would like to taste these offerings, especially the unflavoured one.


03-22-2005, 15:26
In the for-whatever-it's-worth category, here's what Phillips Distilling President Dean Phillips has to say, in response to my inquiry about the product:

Thanks for your question about flavored whiskey.
We can't produce, bottle or sell anything without TTB federal approvals for formulas and labeling.
And, per federal regulations, Phillips Union Whiskey (a blend of Bourbon and Canadian) is bottled at a full 80 proof.
Phillips Union Cherry Flavored Whiskey and Vanilla Flavored Whiskey are labeled and classified as "Flavored Whiskey" and, like "Flavored Vodka" and "Flavored Rum", may be bottled at lower proof.
All TTB regulations and rulings are available at www.ttb.gov (http://www.ttb.gov)
Should you wish to discuss, please feel free to call me at 612-362-7500.

Best wishes,
Tel: 612-362-7500
www.phillipsunion.com (http://www.phillipsunion.com)
www.uvvodka.com (http://www.uvvodka.com)
www.phillipsdistilling.com (http://www.phillipsdistilling.com)

So, Chuck has it exactly right -- of course.

03-22-2005, 20:03
For some reason, pre-made cocktails never took off, Heublein tried for years and years but people never really took to them.

I remember the Heublein attempts and seems that there were some others, maybe Mr Boston or Holland House. I tried some of these and they were not very good. They tasted too synthetic compared to freshly made cocktails. Definitely an aquired taste as there were some people I remember as drinking them regularly. Seems that I remember trying the screwdriver (not much orange juice taste) and the strawberry daiquiri and they were HORRID. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif I personally think the reason why they never took off was because they just didn't taste as good as fresh cocktails.

03-23-2005, 01:11
Dane I think that's right, I had tried some of these too but they never tasted quite right. As you say, a number of products were on the market, Mr. Boston in particular had some success for many years, but nothing seems to have lasted in the field, e.g. there is no classic pre-mixed Manhattan that I am aware of today, or Martini. Perhaps the companies should try again (and in a sense the whole area of flavored liquors is a variation on the cocktail theme, and so are cordials, which never left the market). Because technology today can do amazing things, few better than Bailey's Irish Cream. While I do not drink it regularly I find it striking how good it is, it really does taste fresh and has a capability of keeping perfectly for years.


03-23-2005, 01:45
I don't understand why those Heublein pre-mixed cocktails were so bad, but they really were. I remember ordering a manhattan once in a bar, in Louisville no less, and the bartender (though I hesitate to use the term) reached for the Heublein pre-mixed manhattan and poured it out. It wasn't just not as good as a real one, it was truly awful. I never went back to that bar again.

03-30-2005, 15:10
Well, I saw the product at my favorite retailer today. They must be paying pretty well for product placement, because the had it up on the top shelf (instead of where it belongs). Of course, the store is in Minneapolis, the same place where Phillips is headquartered.

04-04-2005, 20:56
I had never heard of this bottle. I just looked it up to see if it was available here in NYC, and lo and behold, it is! OK, NY boys and gal, I'm gonna order a small bottle for us to try. Stop on by LeNell's! ( http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gifOf course, you'll be interested in something more worthy, but while you're here, we'll check it out together. hee hee)

04-10-2005, 20:52
I've been told they will be at Chicago WhiskeyFest, though they aren't on the list. Maybe a late addition.

04-15-2005, 23:04
They were at WhiskeyFest, as promised, and I tasted both the unflavored whiskey version and the cherry version.

The unflavored version is very mild and doesn't really taste like either Canadian or American whiskey. It only just tastes like whiskey. It has a very prominent vanilla flavor, to the point where I suspected flavoring. I talked to the president of the company and he said no, all whiskey, so it was an interesting blending job to accent that flavor. Not untasty, not likely to appeal to folks here, but we're not the target. The target is vodka/flavored vodka drinkers who might be ready for something with a little more flavor. Sort of whiskey with training wheels.

The cherry-flavored version had a nice cherry flavor, but even less whiskey flavor. Dean, the president, said they were going for a manhattan-like flavor.

Like I said, not untasty and there is no point in any of us being critical of it, because we're not the target.

04-27-2005, 16:57
I tried the Vanilla and the Cherry today. Asked for the non-flavored, but the distributor screwed up. The Vanilla is very soft and fluffy. Big buttery, vanilla nose. Easy, no bite in the mouth. I often soak about 10 vanilla beans in Dickel 8 for my own vanilla whiskey. My own concoction still tastes like whiskey. This tastes more like a one-dimensional cordial.

Cherry? Smells and tastes like a Luden's cherry cough drop.

Haven't tried cocktails, yet. Will get back to you on the unflavored as soon as I taste.

04-27-2005, 23:47
I had the cherry. It might be good mixed with whiskey.

05-05-2005, 23:52
Tried all the cocktails on the Phillips Union web site. Vanilla Julep was palatable. Not too keen on the calling something a Manhattan or Old Fashioned with this stuff, but the cocktails weren't bad, just didn't resemble the authentic versions. I'm a purest when it comes to a Manhattan, I guess. Chuck, maybe I should go back now and try the cherry with "real" whiskey. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif