Editor’s Note: This canned cocktail was provided to us a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
The recent growth in the canned cocktails category has created quite a buzz. And while I spent the peak years of the pandemic re-watching Bob’s Burgers so many times that I now think of food and drink mostly in terms of puns, Jack Espy was putting his passion for mixology to work. 2022 saw the launch of Spirited Hive, Espy’s line of canned cocktails featuring organic honey.
The company coalesced while Espy was in graduate school at NYU on track to work in real estate finance and is sold by retailers in New York and Nashville, or for most of us via their website.
In general, I’m a fan of honey as a sweetener. It brings its own nuances to a drink (or dish), is rarely cloying, and is versatile in pairings. What’s more, honey has a long, boozy history. The fermentable sugars in honey were famously employed by the medieval Norsement for brewing mjod, and I myself (to less acclaim) once put it to use, accidentally jacking the ABV of a home brewed pale ale up to about 7%.
While Spirited Hive adds their honey more for flavor than fermentability, it plays a feature role in each of their offerings.
This being the Whiskey Wash, I ended up tasting Spirited Hive’s whiskey cocktail featuring bourbon, lemon, rosemary, and their signature honey. The Kentucky bourbon for these drinks is sourced from Green River Distilling Co. and the wildflower honey from Lancaster, PA.
In general, I found it to be one of the better canned cocktails I’ve had. It’s hard to imagine a whiskey drink that could conceivably please non-whiskey drinkers, while also giving bourbon enthusiasts something to enjoy, but Spirited Hive’s Bourbon canned cocktail might do just that.
The bourbon actually has the least influence in the overall flavor, but does provide a bit of a foundation or stage for the rest of the flavors present here. The strongest impression is distinctive honey sweetness, punctuated by the acid of lemon, which wouldn’t be too interesting except for an herbal note from the rosemary tying this together like it was the Dude’s rug.
Simple and quaffable, but with enough personality to be noticeably more interesting than most other canned cocktails I’ve sampled. Most others I’ve encountered to date have been solid, if uninspiring, but I actively enjoyed this to the point that I’ll consider purchasing it if I ever encounter it out in the wild.