Bärenjäger has always been one of the benchmark honey liqueurs. The secret to Bärenjäger’s success has always been its commitment to using only natural ingredients. As a result, Bärenjäger is a honey liqueur that actually tastes like real honey, and isn’t bolstered or modified with corn syrup, sugar, or other common flavorings. Last year Bärenjäger spread its wings and expanded into the exploding honey-flavored whiskey category with Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon, an entry that was one of the best in class for bourbon and honey liqueurs. Now, Bärenjäger is expanding their flavor palate with two new offerings that build on their core: Barenjager Honey & Tea and Barenjager Honey & Pear.
Barenjager Honey & Tea (35% ABV / 70 Proof, $28.99) – tea can be a difficult flavor to work with: too much and it’s very tannic, too artificial and it stops smelling and tasting like tea. In the nose, the tea in Bärenjäger Honey & Tea is pitch perfect, the tea note spot on and in perfect balance with the deep rich honey note. There’s a slight spice from the underlining base spirit which also adds a complementary lemon note to the equation. The entry for Bärenjäger Honey & Tea is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. From the start the tea and honey flavors intermingle wonderfully, again in perfect balance. This may very well be the best delivery of a tea flavor we’ve ever seen in a spirit. The honey note has an underlining herbal quality and spice which pairs perfectly with the tea. In the midpalate the base spirit shows itself with a nice subtle heat, light spice, and again some citrus. Again, the balance here is superb. The finish is medium and captures the essence of both the honey and tea. The mouth feel on the Bärenjäger Honey & Tea is excellent. There’s some nice weight without ever been cloying, and in the finish things clean up and appreciably lighten.
Many companies have tried to add tea to the flavored spirit equation and few have come even close to what Bärenjäger has done with the Honey & Tea. Not only is it nice straight, but it is an exceptional tool for use in cocktails. Not to surprisingly, Bärenjäger Honey & Tea mixes quite well with bourbon for an easy two ingredient drink. Bärenjäger Honey & Tea also does well with gin, tequila, and sings with cranberry. Bärenjäger has shown that they are the one to beat for any spirit with honey.
Barenjager Honey & Pear (35% ABV / 70 Proof, $28.99) – for their honey and pear liqueur, Bärenjäger uses German pear brandy made from Williams pears. As with the Honey & Tea, Bärenjäger’s Honey & Pear does an exquisite job of balancing and integrating the pear and honey aromas in the nose. It’s so nice to nose a glass and have such pure, natural aromas present themselves like they do in Bärenjäger’s Honey & Pear. Underneath these notes is the base spirit, which adds a slight bit of citrus and spice. The entry for Bärenjäger Honey & Pear is bright, sweet pear. Williams pears have such a nice dimensionality of flavor to them, and that’s captured here with the crisp, tart, floral, and sweet elements all present. The balance here certainly favors the pear elements with the honey as a solid supporting flavor. As with all Bärenjäger products, the honey flavor here is sublime, tasting more like a clover honey than your standard ‘off the shelf’ variety. The midpalate is supported well by a little spice and heat from the base spirit, which helps maintain the balance and give structure to a medium finish that is all pear and honey. Like the Honey & Tea, the mouthfeel for Bärenjäger’s Honey & Pear is solid and well crafted.
As far as we’re concerned, Bärenjäger has set the gold standard for dealing with flavoring in spirits. They’ve proven that when you start with high quality natural ingredients, the result is better than anything you can possibly get with artificial flavors. It seems ridiculous to say that their Honey & Tea actually tastes like honey and tea, and their Honey & Pear actually tastes like honey and pear, and for many favored spirits this is simply not the case. In addition to being ideal for winter time sipping, Bärenjäger has added to the flavor palate for bartenders and delivered two great options that are well crafted and easy to mix with. It takes a lot for us to get really excited about a flavored product, but Bärenjäger manages to do that with nearly everything they do.Review: Barenjager Honey & Tea and Honey & Pear by Geoff Kleinman