While banana whiskies may not be the first choice for many, they’re an interesting addition to any bar or drinks cabinet.
In this review, we look at four of the most popular banana-infused whiskey on the market. If you’ve ever been stuck in the whiskey aisle at your bottle store unsure of which way to turn, this article is for you.
After the surge in popularity of peanut butter whiskey, and now with the introduction of this banana variant, we expect the flavored whiskey trend to continue.
Top 4 Banana Whiskey Brands
1. Howler Head Banana Bourbon
Howler Head is one of the most prominently recognizable bourbons on our list. It’s packaged into a sturdy bottle and the angry sunglasses-wearing chimp on the cover seems to literally be screaming “Drink me.” It looks like something pulled straight from a Polynesian beach bar.
Unfortunately, the details behind this brew are worryingly vague. Other than prominently displaying their partnership with the UFC, not much is known about how this spirit is made. Its origin, ingredients, distillation, and flavoring processes are all completely clandestine.
Due to the sheer number of questions we get about this brand we created a more detailed Howler Head whiskey review.
The first thing you’ll notice when you pour a dram of Howler Head is the light straw color and strong legs.
The drink itself is a light, translucent liquid. It’s the color of light straw that suggests a good sipping drink for hot afternoons in your backyard.
The first note to greet your nose is, unsurprisingly, banana. It walks the line between genuine banana and synthetic flavoring, and even after quaffing nearly half a bottle we still can’t decide which side it falls on.
There’s a foundational sweetness that gives the drink an almost candy-like smell. It’s reminiscent of Laffy Taffy, which could turn away anyone looking for something a little more refined.
Given the strong smell of this bourbon, we were expecting to be slapped in the face with an overwhelming banana flavor. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Howler Head is surprisingly balanced.
While it’s missing some of the characteristic smokiness of straight bourbon, it balances it out with a subtle spiciness that pairs well with the delicate banana flavor.
After a few sips, it can border on cloyingly sweet. This isn’t a problem for everyone, and the increased sugar content could be a good entry point for people who aren’t accustomed to the stronger, more astringent flavors of other bourbons.
The finish is pleasant, if not a little abrupt. There’s a lingering spiciness on the tip of the tongue, but the lack of smokiness becomes prominent as you expect to feel it in the back of the throat.
The high oil content coats the tongue which keeps the finish strong until the final notes of bourbon fade away.
- Beautiful color
- Trendy packaging
- Lacks characteristic flavors
2. Ambros Banana Whiskey
The distillers at Ambros Whiskey set out to shake up the industry by infusing a quality whiskey with real fruit, something few competitors were doing at the time.
They proudly boast that each batch of their whiskey is infused with 50,000 bananas imported from Central and South America to their distillery in Nevada.
Owing to the unique distillation and infusion process, there’s sometimes sediment that gathers in the bottle. While this does little to harm the overall quality of the drink, the motes of banana floating around your tumbler could turn off the more discerning whiskey drinker.
The drink is a deep golden color, like sun-dried apples or dry sherry. The legs are a little on the thin side which could indicate a lackluster finish.
The nose of the drink is a general melange of fruity flavors, and we struggled to pick out banana in particular among all the various smells. That’s not to say it’s unpleasant, quite the opposite.
There’s a strong smokiness that balances out the sweeter, more prominent flavors without drowning them out.
This is where things get a little weird.
The base whiskey for Ambros Banana is a strong, robust drink. Picking up any flavors of the whiskey is a near-impossible task since there are layers and layers of banana.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you go looking for a banana whiskey, odds are you want to be able to taste the banana.
The banana flavor has an enjoyable, woody characteristic. Deep umami flavors remind us of oven-roasted fruit or sun-dried chips, which gives the drink a rounded quality. Really, the strength of this drink is going to turn away anyone but the most dedicated banana fanatics (Banatics? Fananas?).
The strong banana taste of the whiskey fades into a more subtle, caramel finish. Burnt sugar combines with the infused flavor resulting in an almost-milkshake quality.
The low oil content means that it doesn’t stick around for long, but that could be beneficial considering the potent aromas.
- Not sickly sweet
- No artificial sweeteners or flavors
- Strong flavor could turn some away
3. MurLarkey Banana Whiskey
MurLarkey began their journey with a single 23-gallon copper still and have grown into one of the best renowned flavored whiskey producers today. They’ve brought in heaps of awards for their efforts and have built up a sturdy fanbase of loyal customers.
They produce a range of flavored and traditional alcohol, from gins, vodkas, and rums to whiskey flavored with pretty much every ingredient under the sun.
The beverage is a pale yellow that’s more typical of limoncello than traditional whiskey.
Strong legs cling to the glass giving the drink a syrupy look that’s inviting with its richness.
MurLarkey’s nose is full of bright, young bananas. There’s little sweetness, but the corn-based mash gives the drink a light, vanilla note that carries across some of the more complex aromas.
The bananas fade to reveal a rich foundation of other fruit. Citrus, apples, stone fruit, even tobacco, all mingle together to make for an intriguing nose that definitely invites you to investigate further.
The strong bourbon foundation gives this drink a notable nuttiness that pairs beautifully with the banana flavors. It’s instantly recognizable as banana bread, something the distillers advertise proudly.
Behind the primary characteristics of infused whiskey are some more subtle notes that round out this drink, making sure it’s not just a one-trick pony.
More adventurous whiskey drinkers might miss some of the more challenging bourbon notes. There’s little in the way of spice or smoke that keeps you sipping. This is a drink that’s great for introducing newcomers to the world of whiskey.
The finish really allows this drink to shine. The banana-bread-like taste lingers on the roof of the mouth, imparting a pleasant savory aspect that the other infusions on this list lack.
Where other flavored alcohols can seem almost dessert-like, MurLarkey isn’t afraid to show us that bananas are good for more than just their sugar content.
- Uniquely savory
- Exquisite finish
- Pedestrian packaging
- Limited distribution
4. Whiskey Smith Banana Whiskey
Whiskey Smith distillers, part of the Old Elk Distillery in Colorado, set out to change the way people think about flavored whiskey. They wanted to change the perception that flavored whiskies were inferior quality restricted to frat parties and shot glasses.
Their range has expanded to include seven unique flavors of infused whiskey. What’s remarkable about the Whiskey Smiths is that their banana infusion may be the least strange flavor they have on offer.
Pineapple, blood orange, even coconut-infused whiskies are on offer so you can drink your way across a tropical island.
Whiskey Smith’s Banana Whiskey has a rich, golden hue and strong legs.
There’s a lovely gradient of color, running the gamut from light yellow straw to dark river water.
The nose is a lively amalgam of fruits and nuts. Behind the dominant banana notes are subtle hints of vanilla, caramel, and cream.
There’s a savory quality that complements the sugary banana profile. A surprising waft of salted nuts reminded us of trail mix.
There’s a rich spiciness that makes Whiskey Smith stand out against the other infusions in this list. Notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves bring this whiskey to life. It’s ideal for sipping by the fire on a cold winter night.
Notes of caramel sweeten the drink without making it become cloying. It helps to balance the complex mix of flavors and aromas.
Of all the whiskies we reviewed, this is easily the most level-headed of the lot.
The finish is somewhat disappointing. There’s little trace of the strong Christmas spices that made the palate of this whiskey so intriguing.
Still, a pleasant smokiness warms you from the back of the throat and the fruity notes linger on the tongue long after you’ve swallowed.
- Pleasant nose
- Charming packaging
- Underwhelming finish
- No smoky flavor
Banana Whiskey FAQs
What’s the best way to drink whiskey?
The best way to drink any whiskey is how you like it best. There’s a centuries-long debate over whether it should be enjoyed neat, on ice, or with a drop of water.
If you’ve paid for it, you can mix it with a can of coke for all we care.
How are infused whiskies made?
There are a variety of methods to infuse whiskey with flavors. Some add artificial flavors or syrups to the finished product. None of the whiskies in this review are flavored artificially.
Instead, they allow the bananas to infuse with the drink by letting them sit in the barrels with the finished whiskey.