Bottom Line Right at the Top
We find that Dehner Cinnamon rum is an exceptionally pure form of sweetened rum… a "baker’s shot" is the best description we had. It’s highest and best use was mixed about 3 parts to 1 in RumChata or other cream liqueurs… a delicious adornment to sweet cream. Who should buy: those who like coffee drinks, those who like RumChata or other cream liqueurs, and those who adore genuine-tasting cinnamon. Who should avoid: pure shooters… if you’re looking for shot after shot after shot, the Dehner will serve but you’ll probably prefer the more popular Fireball.
Dehner Distillery Havana Judge Cinnamon rum screams "Party!" The label is a jaunty scrawl of letters that is something between a paint-tagged urban walls and hand-painted high school cheer posters. The price is an inviting $12. The liquor inside is an inviting, burnished mahogany that reminds visually of syrup. Finally, it features the hottest flavor on the market (at least at the time of this writing in the fall of 2014): cinnamon.
There’s no question about it, Sazerac’s Fireball cinnamon schnapps is one of the hottest shooters on the market and has defeated all comers in a market where competitor whiskeys have flowered like dandelions in an organic grass lawn. Joseph Dehner of Clive, Iowa aims to dethrone the Fireball at least in the vicinity of the Hawkeye State.
At $12 and highly sweetened, this is not a flavored rum that is meant—at least in our opinion—for sipping and comparing against aged wonders, prestige bottlings, prized cinnamon imported from exotic lands, or tinctured into delicately balanced cocktails. This is about chilling, shooting, and shouting for more. So that’s exactly how we went after it is this thing going to get a party started or what?!
How Does it Compare to Fireball Tasting Neat
Fireball tastes exactly like cinnamon candy. Every Red Hot or other cinnamon candy you’ve ever had is right here. But it’s not the sugary, awful, sweet storm of corn syrup that some liqueurs are. It has just enough bite and just enough delicacy to make it delicious—in that decadent, party animal way—without descending into some kind of diabetic coma. Doubtless, that’s why it’s so popular.
That’s a tough challenge for Dehner. In the event, it’s cinnamon without candy and heat without decadence. It’s a purer form of cinnamon… it’s blow-your-hair back cinnamon. Way more bit, kick, heat, and everything you might associate with a cinnamon stick you were sucking on like a rolled cigarette. We call it a baker’s cinnamon shot versus a Hostess pie kind of cinnamon shot. If you were to line up a bunch of people and offer them bags of Twinkies versus fresh baked sponge cake, you have the idea here.
The Second Shot: Has the Party Started Yet?
Yeah… that’s the program. Keep drinking this stuff and see what happens. The party is generally moving and the music has definitely gotten louder. General calls are a mild preference towards the Fireball but a keen appreciation for the natural-tasting cinnamon in the Dehner. Comment of the night so far: "I may like to shoot the Fireball but for kissing… well, I want to kiss someone who took the Dehner."
The Third Shot: People are Singing
It’s true… the cinnamon has inspired a number of people to begin singing along with the music. America’s Got Talent need not be calling around here. People are beginning to gravitate over towards the Dehner… particularly because some are starting to insist on mixing. Each has now been dumped in RumChata and in cola. It turns out, cinnamon mixed with RumChata is an absolute joy at a party. Here, the more genuine cinnamon is an outstanding mixer where the Fireball made the drink a little too sweet. Could be this makes a better mixing rum than shooting rum.
The Fourth Shot: People Think They’re Athletes
A dispute over athleticism broke out that could only be resolved by timed 40-yard sprints down the street under the orange light of the street lamps. Only one injury and that a skinned knee. We can recommend neither of these spirits as performance enhancing drugs. The general mood on shots is still gently tilting towards fireball with a hue and outcry calling for the Dehner. There is a notion running through the throng that the extra sweet of Fireball (not to mention unknown "all natural flavors," might contribute to a very poor morning.
The Fifth Shot: Nobody’s Naked Yet
This was the last moment where we could command enough attention from the party goers at the same time to obtain useful commentary. We’re calling it: 65 – 35 in favor of the Fireball. But in casual mixing on the side, we’re finding that the cinnamon is performing very well in a variety of settings, including the aforementioned cola (a nice difference from a spiced rum) and also in coffee, which the more experienced among us were beginning to drink. There was a failed experiment in trying to replace Angostura bitters in an Old Fashioned cocktail with a dash of the Dehner rum.
The Sixth Shot and Beyond: [[REDACTED]]
[by, Neal MacDonald, editor]
[Disclaimer: we received a 750ml Dehner Cinnamon rum free of charge for review purposes. All other products mentioned in this article were acquired on our own.]