Hear me out: I don't hate Jägermeister. Despite its controversial historical origins and depiction in popular YouTubes, Jägermeister was my first introduction to the bitter, herbal liqueurs that are increasingly among my favorite categories of booze. Granted, Jäger's syrupy body and relatively sweet flavor profile means I have largely moved on with my exploration of all the Italians or Eastern Europeans have to offer with their amari, Becherovka, Unicum, etc... But I am grateful to Jägermeister for opening my eyes to a whole world of flavors that I had been missing.
So when Jägermeister announced that they would be bringing their first new herbal liqueur to market, my curiosity was piqued. Jägermeister Spice was inspired by the original recipe (flavored with some 56 secret herbs, fruits, flowers, and roots) but highlights cinnamon and vanilla, and is bottled at a lower 50 proof. And here's the shocker: it's meant to be drunk neat at room temperature. (Which means it might be time to put the tap machine up on eBay...) So how does the Spice stack up?
Served as Jägermeister suggests, neat at room temperature, it pours a light, slightly translucent copper. The scent is all cinnamon and vanilla up front, with a pleasant backdrop of mountain herbs (licorice and star anise stand out). The flavor is overall quite mild—sweet but not cloying, complex but not challenging, with medium body and enough bitterness to balance the spice and sweetness. The mildness is comforting rather than frustrating. The finish is quick but warming, and while the notes of cinnamon and vanilla dominate, the overall experience of Spice is much more balanced and integrated than its progenitor. Served chilled, the liqueur loses its balance and falls flat, and while it has nice interplay with the crisp bite of cola, I much preferred it on its own.
Priced at $22 per 750 mL bottle, it's an easily recommendable entry point into the world of dark and bitter liqueurs that won't scare you away.
Do you have a favorite herbal liqueur?
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.
Tasting sample provided for review consideration.