These days, it’s hard not to be familiar with Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, at least in passing. It was only available in Canada for a long time, and wasn’t very well-known anywhere else. Over the past few years its popularity has exploded around the world. It’s now quite well-known in the US and the UK, and of course remains a favorite for Canadians.
According to the marketing story that goes with Fireball, originally developed as part of a line of Seagram flavored schnapps in the 1980s, it was created by a Canadian bartender trying to warm up in the wake of an Arctic blast. In 1989, the Sazerac Company purchased the rights from Seagram and started marketing the drink as Dr. McGillicuddy’s Fireball Whisky.” In 2006, it was rebranded with its current name, “Fireball Cinnamon Whisky.”
Now, Fireball is everywhere. In 2013, it became one of the ten most popular liquors in existence. This has perhaps caused a lot of whisky connoisseurs to avoid it, including me. Why? Well, when something gets to be that popular, that fast, it’s hard not to think of it as anything other than a passing craze. As real whisky aficionados, those of us who love the drink tend to think of ourselves as being above passing trends. On the other hand, just because something is hugely popular doesn’t mean it isn’t great, so I thought it was time to check out Fireball for myself.
The bottle features a simple design; the Fireball label has a “charred” look around the edges, suggestive of the whisky’s hot flavors. The liquid inside is a clear, bright gold. Opening the bottle, I don’t even smell whisky at all. All I smell is cinnamon. In fact, that is literally all I smell. No other notes, no nuance, just straight-up cinnamon. It smells a bit like Big Red gum.
On the palate, it is syrupy and sweet at first, and then comes a big punch of cinnamon. The hot cinnamon flavor sticks to your palate for a long time on the finish. Once again, I don’t really taste whisky. The taste is no more nuanced than the smell. It’s just cinnamon.
If you really, really love cinnamon, I can see where this could be an enjoyable drink. And I can see why the young people are all crazy about it. It’s definitely the addicting kind of drink you can just chug down. Since there’s nothing subtle about it, there is nothing to slow down and really appreciate. And for that reason, I can see the justification for avoiding it if you are a real whisky aficionado.
Price-wise, you are going to pay around $18 for a bottle. While this is hardly expensive, it is not exactly cheap either. I would say that makes it pretty overpriced for what you are getting. There are so many better beverages you can get in this price range. And yes, there are better flavored options out there too, if that is what you are into. I am glad I tried it, just to know what everyone is talking about, but I can safely say that I was right the first time; Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is not a serious whisky enthusiast’s drink.
Summary: Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
Color: Bright gold.