Sponsorships have a way of making things feel disingenuous. Whether it’s Linus Tech Tips’ cheeky segue ways or specially branded booze bottles, eye-rolling is bound to ensue. Diageo are no stranger to this with their Game of Thrones scotch lineup, Lagavulin Offerman Edition, and Walking Dead bourbon, otherwise known as Spirits of the Apocalypse. The third of these listed examples has easily seen the last fanfare, which isn’t surprising until we remember how hard Game of Thrones fell from grace. Since then, it’s not uncommon to find many of these Diageo products for steep discounts, with Spirits of the Apocalypse commanding as little as $10 in certain areas. My curiosity didn’t require that much of a discount but finding a new bourbon to try for $20 takes me back to “the good ol’ days.” Of maybe five years ago.
Details on Spirits of the Apocalypse are scant, with the source being Kentucky, the bottling location being Illinois, the proof being 94, and the age being undisclosed (we can infer it’s at least 2 years old). This particular bottle says it’s batch 01. Let’s dive into the unknown and see if we get bitten.
Nose: Combination of fruity candy and slightly savory spice. Orange peel and spice, pepper, and some nutmeg. Fairly consistent wave of vanilla and ethanol. Cinnamon and fall-themed potpourri.
Palate: Mild-moderate viscosity followed by a gradual build of spice that levels off just a bit. Light brown sugar, lightly burnt orange peel, and sweet red/orange pepper. Black pepper and red pepper flakes emerge on the mid-palate, suggesting rye grain.
Finish: Honey and orange. Mild nutmeg notes return. Bit of black pepper spice lingers and builds with each sip.
Much like the televised adaptation of The Walking Dead, Diageo’s Spirits of the Apocalypse is something of a mixed bag. The most surprising aspect is its above average viscosity, which makes the bourbon’s rather spicy nature stand out that much more. This results in a bourbon that feels like it’s meant to be served on the rocks or in cocktails, since the personality should level off and ultimately integrate well with a block of ice and/or list of complementary ingredients. Taken as a neat pour, it’s difficult to fully enjoy since that spicy personality leans on the aggressive side.
The final question of whether Spirits of the Apocalypse can be recommended depends on a few questions. Do you enjoy The Walked Dead and bourbon? Do you mind pours that drink above their proof point? Are you fine with a new bottle performing mixer/cocktail duty? Is it available at a discount? This is a prime example of a product that does fine on its own but fails to stand out the moment other bottles are considered. Unless marked down, Spirits of the Apocalypse is a tough sell for all but the biggest, more open-minded fans of both The Walking Dead and whiskey.