Want to celebrate Independence Day? Well, you can go to a parade, eat a hot dog, light some fireworks, or drink one of these liquors from Brave Spirits, four bottles designed specifically with “soldiers, marines, airmen, police officers, and firefighters” in mind. Presumably you can drink them even if you are not one of these professions… and if you do, the company will donate $2 per bottle toward charities that benefit our men and women in uniform.
As kitsch goes, Brave Spirits are unabashedly off the charts. Just look at the bottle. Not just the red, white, and blue motif; the bottles are shaped like soldiers standing at attention.
But it’s foolish to judge a booze by its bottle. Let’s take a spin and taste what’s inside and be as honest as possible.
Overall, the Brave Spirits line is not much to write home about. It’s not so much that any of these spirits are bad, but that they’re merely undistinguished. At $20 a bottle (though I’ve yet to see any of these on sale anywhere; right now they are only in Pennsylvania and a few military bases), rest assured you’re not drinking swill, but while those looking for party mixers won’t mind the spirits, connoisseurs will probably be unimpressed.
All four are made entirely in America (more on that in a bit) and are bottled at 80 proof. Here are some notes on each in turn.
Valor Vodka – Distilled from “grains chosen from the fields of the Great Plains” and thrice distilled, this is a very plain vodka. Medicinal notes are the only noteworthy component of the flavor, and even that is weak and a little watery. Probably fine with lots of fruit juice. Not for straight consumption. C
Standing Guard Gin – Catching a theme in the naming convention here? This gin actually has overseas juniper in it (gasp!) but is otherwise U.S.-made (including “Florida’s oranges.” Less juniper is rarely a bad thing in gin, and Standing Guard isn’t bad. Again, weak is alas the key descriptor, though you can definitely get a taste of the orange content here. A more sarcastic critic might say that makes it perfect for Gin & Juice. B-
First In Whiskey – It’s made in Kentucky but it’s not a bourbon: First In is 72.5 percent grain neutral spirits and bottled in New Jersey. The aged portion of the blend is put into barrels for at least four years, but it’s not enough to impart much more than a light vanilla and woody overtone to the spirit. Even with Coke it’s not quite right, the flavor is just too understated. C+
At Ease Rum – That’s right: American rum! Hey, anyone can get hold of molasses, so why not American-made rum? The aroma isn’t sweet, but almost as medicinal as the vodka. The flavor is quite different and actually has some good, sweet rum character to it. Not bad with Coke, and even palatable as a sipper. The smell is a little off-putting, though, which is unfortunate. B-
So there you have it. Now get out there, drink, and blow something up.
$20 each / bravespirits.com