I received a novel present from my youngest daughter’s in-laws for Christmas and certainly one I had never heard of: Gummy bears flavored with bourbon!
Initially, I got a chuckle out of the gift, but when I later actually read the label—well, I was horrified. The ingredients are the same as most any gummy bear, I am sure, other than the bourbon flavoring. I assumed some type of a bourbon-flavored extract had been used. And certainly, if actual bourbon was used, it would just say “bourbon.” While I am a proponent of using a higher-shelf bourbon even when mixing it to make a cocktail, when it comes to cooking, we always use the less expensive, lower shelf bourbons. After all, the alcohol itself cooks off and all you are really adding is a bourbon flavor that will be just one part of the final taste profile of a recipe.
But these gummy bears? They were flavored with Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon! This is one of my favorite bourbons. It is made at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Kentucky and is most definitely a high-end bourbon. It is aged between six to eight years in the only metal rickhouse (warehouse) that Buffalo Trace uses. In the United States, Blanton’s runs around $55-$65 a bottle and can sometimes be hard to find. Blanton’s was the first modern whiskey to be marketed as a single barrel bourbon, meaning the contents of each bottle came from a single barrel and were not married together with bourbon from other barrels (which is how most bourbons are made).
Even more surprising to me is that the Blanton’s was used when these gummy bears were made in Germany. There are actually other styles of Blanton’s that can only be sold outside the United States due to licensing agreements, but these bottles run in the hundreds of dollars price range. Even the Blanton’s sold in the United States would be far more expensive to purchase in Germany.
So you can see why I was shocked that such a fine quality bourbon was used –overseas no less–to flavor a candy where the alcohol is completely burned off anyway in the cooking process. That being said, these are not only a fun treat but quite a conversation piece.