Yes, ladies and gentleman, it's that time of the year. Time for 'pumpkin spice' to be liberally sprinkled pretty much everywhere, and time for other fall flavors to accompany it on store shelves. We tried out seven different new seasonal beverages, including three vodkas, a beer, a cider, a liqueur, and a refrigerated coffee drink.
Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple Hard Cider
We were expecting a spicier cinnamon flavor from this one. A pretty decent hard cider in its own right, the Cinnful version has traces of cinnamon, but it's not terribly strong over the sweet apple taste. It's worth picking up a six pack if you like cider and are looking for a seasonal spin at your local grocery store, but if you're a fan of spice, you may want to sprinkle your own cinnamon in to kick it up a few notches.
Bolthouse Farms Pumpkin Spice Latte
This bottled pumpkin spice latte from Bolthouse Farms is mainly made from milk, followed by coffee, pumpkin puree, and other natural and artificial flavors. In our taste test, we found it to be very creamy in both texture and taste, but caught almost no hint of coffee. The pumpkin flavor is there, as are the spices, but they're just a little more muted than we'd like. A 52-ounce bottle costs about as much as one venti iced PSL from Starbucks though, making it a smart buy if you'd rather not sink all your money into the mermaid.
Crop Spiced Pumpkin Flavored Vodka
Crop's organic vodkas come in flavors such as cucumber and tomato. Their Spiced Pumpkin version had a much sweeter taste than we were expecting; it reminded us of molasses. The scent is very strong, and so is the flavor. It tastes pretty natural though, which is rare in a product like this. We liked the nutmeg and cinnamon flavor, and would consider adding some to our hot tea as the weather gets chilly.
Guinness Red Harvest Stout
Fans of Guinness looking for a fall-themed edition may well be disappointed by the brewer's new Red Harvest Stout. The limited edition beer is advertised as having a "mildly sweet, velvety taste" and "aromas of caramel and toffee." We found "mild" to be the best descriptor of the bunch. Pouring out of a can pressurized by the company's famous nitrogen widget, you'll find the classic Guinness head and a nice red-tinted brown color. The flavor, though, is just lacking. We got some of the roasted barley, but overall, it tastes a lot like a lighter version of regular Guinness.
Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice
On its own, we found this limited edition liqueur to be much more Kahlúa than pumpkin spice. Chances are you won't be drinking it on its own though, so we tried out the recipe on the back of the bottle, a martini made with equal parts vodka and Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice. We found that the vodka brought out the autumnal flavors in the liqueur, and it was really quite tasty. Naturally, it'd pair well with coffee, too. Put some whipped cream on top.
Pinnacle Caramel Apple and Pecan Pie Flavored Vodkas
Pinnacle Caramel Apple and Pecan Pie vodkas taste exactly like the flavors they're supposed to, maybe too much so. Unlike Crop's booze, the alcohol is barely noticeable. The Caramel Apple is sweet like a Jolly Rancher, with slightly subtler caramel flavor. It'd make a great addition to cider. Then there's the Pecan Pie; we picked up the nutty flavor, but also butter and spices. Imagine the taste of a Sara Lee pecan pie, in liquid form. These two could be dangerous. Hide them from your kids.
Have you tried these drinks? What did you think? Do you have a favorite seasonal product—boozy or otherwise?
Tasting samples provided for review consideration.