Truth be told, I used to love a White Russian (or several) back in my Big Lebowski-watching, undiscerning college drinking days. That sweet boozy stand-in for melted coffee ice cream would cover up even the most vile of bottom shelf handles of vodka. But as my tastes have skewed a bit less...sweet...I've left Kahlúa behind with warm, blurry memories.
Enter the new Kahlúa Midnight. It's a higher-octane version of Kahlúa—the familiar coffee liqueur gets blended with rum for extra punch. At 70 proof, the usual flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, and caramel are slightly muted. Yet there's still room for straight ahead coffee and sugar, and enough of a pleasantly alcoholic finish to carry off the sweetness and leave a clean rather than cloying finish. It's less syrupy than the original, and the finish doesn't coat your mouth in the same eternal way.
Overall, it's exactly what you would expect. Served straight from the freezer, as is recommended, it's quite pleasant and easy-drinking, if a bit one-note, with coffee standing head and shoulders above all other flavors.
Kahlúa Midnight is perhaps an attempt to bring the increasingly sophisticated young drinker back into the coffee liqueur fold, but more likely it's positioning the brand to compete with other bar/party shooters (think Jägermeister, Goldschläger, basically anything with an umlaut). But even a spirits reviewer is not above party shots, and truthfully, a swig of this sauce straight from the freezer helped numb several painful post-season losses this past month. Bottom line: you know if you want this product, and if you do, you'll like it.
Kahlúa Midnight will be available nationwide beginning November 1, 2012 at a suggested retail price of $23.99.
About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distilleries and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films for an independent production company in Brooklyn.
Sample provided for review consideration.