Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Hotel Tango. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
It is hard to believe with the craft distillery movement Indianapolis, Indiana, did not have a running distillery in the city until 80 years after Prohibition ended. In 2013, Travis Barnes launched Hotel Tango. No, it’s not a hotel— it’s an artisan distillery. Located in the Fletcher Place Neighborhood, the “Eclectic Americana” facility also has the distinction of being the nation’s first service-disabled combat veteran-owned distillery.
Hotel Tango has a diverse core range of products, from bourbon to orangecello. Most recently, the distillery dropped its first bottle in its Unofficial HT Series. This series is particular to flavored whiskies to enhance the tasting room’s cocktail offerings. So what is the first flavor? ‘Shmallow— a toasted marshmallow bourbon. This whiskey is featured in Hotel Tango’s S’more Old Fashioned.
Hotel Tango gets its distillery name from the NATO-utilized alphanumeric system of letters using Travis’ and, his wife, Hilary’s initials. The bottles and labels have come a long way after a rebranding to fully incorporate a more military feel. ‘Shmallow has a badass biker cat on the front reminiscent of George Pepard in the A-Team.
Toasted marshmallow is one of my favorite flavors, so I may be a little biased. However, with the influx of flavored whiskies on the market, I know they can be hit or miss. Let’s see if Hotel Tango’s ‘Shmallow Toasted Marshmallow Bourbon really tastes like a toasted marshmallow.
Hotel Tango ‘Shmallow (image via Courtney Kristjana/The Whiskey Wash)
Vital Stats: 30% ABV. 60 proof. A naturally and artificially flavored bourbon. 750ml $25.
Appearance: Hazy light gold
Nose: The nose gets hit first with fresh baked sugar cookies giving a sense of soft and chewy. There is a slight smoke to it, as you would expect with toasted and burnt marshmallows. The real surprise is movie theater buttered popcorn with salt. At the end of the nose, graham cracker appears.
Palate: The mouthfeel is surprisingly not as syrupy as I thought it would be. It tastes like toasted and burnt marshmallows, and leaves crème brûlée on the breath after sipping. Near the end, there is a slight saltiness with some Madagascar vanilla.
Whiskey Review: Hotel Tango 'Shmallow
While I do love the Hotel Tango ‘Shmallow on its own because it does taste like toasted marshmallows, and my preferred burnt marshmallow, I can definitely tell it was meant for mixing and cocktails. I tried the S’mores Old Fashioned they make in their tasting room, and as a bartender who doesn’t like to get all fancy at home, was relieved at how easy and tasty it was.
If you’re a hot cocoa and sweater weather person, then ‘Shmallow is a game changer. For $25 I recommend keeping a bottle in your home bar. You can easily swap the Hotel Tango ‘Shmallow for recipes that call for simple syrup for some seasonal flair.
Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...