Brown Sugar Bourbon Review

I took a bottle of Brown Sugar Bourbon, or BSB, all the way to Muscle Shoals in Alabama on a recent trip. It seemed a good idea as I was getting a sneak preview of the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where the Rolling Stones recorded Brown Sugar, and two other tracks from their Sticky Fingers album. Keith Richards even finished writing one of the tracks, Wild Horses, by locking himself in the studio toilet.

The studio was about to re-open to the public after laying empty for several years, and I was in the very first group of music journalists to be allowed inside. It seemed a cool idea to take a photo of me with a bottle of Brown Sugar in the room where that brilliant track was recorded. Unfortunately, as the studio refurbishment wasn’t quite finished, there was a strict ‘No Photography’ rule. Rats! I could have done it outside but the exterior’s pretty plain, as you can see.


Who would think that music legends like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Cher and Rod Stewart have all recorded inside those walls, as well as the Stones?

Bottle of Heritage Distilling's Brown Sugar Bourbon in review

Brown Sugar Bourbon
So there was nothing else I could do but take the Brown Sugar Bourbon back to my room and drink it. This was, of course, no hardship as the bourbon is made by one of my favorite US distillers, Heritage Distilling, up there in Washington State.

Bottle of Heritage Distilling's Brown Sugar Bourbon in review

What Is Bourbon?
Bourbon from Washington? ‘Doesn’t bourbon have to be made in Kentucky?’ one of my fellow writers asked me. No, it doesn’t. It has to be made in a certain way, for example using at least 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. It also has to be made in the USA if you want to sell it as bourbon in the USA – but it can be made in Alaska or Vermont and still be bourbon.

Bottle of Heritage Distilling's Brown Sugar Bourbon in review

And What Is Brown Sugar Bourbon?
Brown Sugar Bourbon is only 30% ABV so is not meant to be compared to straight bourbon. Take a sniff and you can smell the sweetness that’s created by adding, what else, brown sugar to the natural spirit. The other addition is cinnamon, which gives it a lovely spicy rum-like aroma.

What you sniff is also what you taste – the sugar and the cinnamon both come through, and because the strength is cut it’s not like sipping straight bourbon. It’s one of those dangerously moreish drinks where one glass is definitely not enough. Which is why I had another.

Bottle of Heritage Distilling's Brown Sugar Bourbon in review

After a second glass, the sweetness was starting to get to me, and even though I’ve a sweet tooth, two glasses was enough. It would make a great after-dinner drink, to accompany a dessert – bread pudding, I thought, maybe because I was in the south. It would also be wonderful poured over vanilla ice-cream.

BSB Suggestions
The Heritage website also suggests having it mixed with a hot drink… yes, I can see that, a variation on the Irish coffee, or to give a kick to hot chocolate. The distillers also suggest simply mixing it with Coke.

Brown Sugar Bourbon Awards
BSB is a deceptively simple drink, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one. It’s already won three awards this year:

  • Best of Category – Flavored Whiskey from the American Distilling Institute 2016
  • Gold Medal – Flavored Whiskey from the American Distilling Institute 2016
  • Gold Medal – Seattle International Spirits Awards 2016

The Verdict
At $30 a bottle this is definitely an affordable drink that you can have some fun with. I know some people will want to drink it neat or on the rocks, but however you use it you should definitely give it a try. Those guys at Heritage definitely know what they’re doing – just like the Stones – and they’ll have their fans asking: ‘Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good?’

More Information
See the Heritage Distilling website, and their page on Brown Sugar Bourbon.

Muscle Shoals
To find out about the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, which is due to re-open in fall 2016, see: