You probably never thought about boozifying a nacho cheese flavored Doritos chip, did you? But you probably also never thought about turning Doritos into Taco Bell taco shells either, and now look who’s laughing.
In collaboration with “global flavor innovator” Empirical, a Delaware-based operation which makes all kinds of oddball spirits, the good people at Frito-Lay have dropped the collab to end all collabs: A white, neutral spirit flavored with Nacho Cheese Doritos. (Many people strangely assume the product is a tequila, which is not the case. While Empirical doesn’t say what it’s distilled form, it is formally an “uncategorized” spirit that is closer to vodka than anything else.)
Be assured, this is absolutely the real thing:
The partnership marks a first-of-a-kind innovation for both brands and brings fans a truly new experience. To create the flavor, the many flavor layers of Doritos Nacho Cheese are extracted through Empirical’s innovative production process, using real Doritos chips and retaining their essence through vacuum distillation. Unlike traditional distillation methods, vacuum distillation operates at lower temperatures, preserving the full spectrum of flavors derived from Doritos.
The spirit is initially unassuming, save for the huge Doritos logo on the front of the bottle. (Photos make the spirit look red due to the bottle, but it’s actually clear.) Poured into a glass, it could be just about anything…
The nose is immediately of deep interest. There’s the immediate, grainy earthiness that I associate with a craft vodka here, a little bready but not at all medicinal. It’s closer indeed to a corn chip than I ever thought possible, though there’s not much of a clear cheese quality evident at first blush, more a vague hint of some kind of savory spice.
Take a sip and get ready to be transported into a whole new world. The corn chip quality is quickly compounded by what can only be described as Nacho Cheese Doritos through and through. The whole experience is there — a sharp cheddar cheese quality, a little chile pepper, salt, and some kind of indescribable, MSG-like flavor enhancement. But what really kills it is the finish, which has the dusty, powdery quality along with just a touch of sweetness that only comes with the dregs at the bottom of a snack size bag of Doritos included in your lunch box. Somehow all of this is as about the same experience as eating the actual chips — slightly guilty but always urging you to keep eating one more… or to take one more sip, if only to wash away the significant, lingering aftertaste.
I have no idea what to think about this stuff. It isn’t all that great, but it just plain tastes like freakin’ Doritos. The company suggests using it in margaritas and Bloody Marys, but those feel even crazier than just sipping it straight. It’s designed to be shared with friends, discussed at length, and perhaps used for dares and bar bets instead of crafting elevated cocktails.
It’s already a rousing, sold-out success. If Doritos Cool Ranch Spirit isn’t up next, I’ll eat my hat.
B / $65 / empirical.co