Howler Head is a flavored bourbon – a whiskey specialty – that has gotten a lot of attention. Perhaps the main reason is the partnership between Howler Head and Dana White and the UFC. Howler Head is the official whiskey of the UFC, so it certainly receives a lot of screen time. Our goal is to find out if Howler Head has any other reasons to be as popular as it is – namely, is it good?
We’re going to discuss some of the basics behind Howler Head and what actually goes into the spirit. Then, we’ll talk about some of the tasting notes and good mixed drinks to make with it.
Howler Head Overview
- Spirit: Whiskey Specialty – made with straight bourbon
- Owned By: Steve Lipp, Jason Wooler, and Campari Group
- Distilled By: Unknown Kentucky distillery
- Aged: Minimum 2 years
- ABV: 40% ABV, 80 proof
- Mashbill: At least 51% corn
- Price: $25
What is Howler Head Whiskey?
Let’s jump right into it. Howler Head is already on my sh** list. Go to their website. I’ll wait a second….
You see that right there at the top. The section titles “Our Bourbon”… yeah, it’s not a bourbon. They refer to their banana flavored bourbon. Guess what? That’s an oxymoron. If it’s flavored, it ain’t bourbon. It really grinds my gears when companies try to market their specialty whiskey, aka flavored whiskey, as bourbon.
The regulations surrounding bourbon exist in order to uphold a certain standard regarding America’s take on whiskey. Trying to pass your flavored whiskey off as bourbon for marketing purposes… yeah, I don’t like that.
I didn’t like when Legent Whiskey did it, and they only barrel finished a portion of the whiskey (barrel finishing bourbon takes it into the American whiskey category).
I don’t care how “natural” the banana flavoring is, it’s not bourbon. Confusing consumers only puts down the history and regulations of bourbon.
Who Owns Howler Head Whiskey?
Okay, now that we’ve covered that, let’s get to the ownership. First, Dana White does not own Howler Head. It’s owned by Steve Lipp and Jason Wooler. The Campari Group also purchased a 15% share of the company in 2022.
Howler Head is the official sponsor of the UFC, so that is the relationship between Dana White and Howler Head Whiskey. There are other possible stake owners, but Lipp, Wooler, and Campari Group make up the majority.
Howler Head Tsting Notes
Okay, let’s find out if Howler Head Whiskey is any good.
Nose: Banana laffy taffy
Palate: Banana laffy taffy, cinnamon, nutmeg.
Finish: Banana laffy taffy with some oak.
Taste Summary – Is Howler Head Good?
This is exactly why flavored bourbon isn’t legally bourbon. This tastes like banana laffy taffy and that’s about it. There’s a touch of spice and a touch of oak, but it’s just banana flavored. Oh, but it’s natural flavoring, so that’s good (sarcasm).
Now, as much crap as I’m giving Howler Head for marketing their spirit as a bourbon, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. I mean, it’s basically a flavored liqueur, so it’s easy to drink. There’s no alcohol burn or anything. It’s just super sweet and overly banana. If you’re not a fan of real whiskey, you can use Howler Head for shots or for funky mixed drinks.
I made myself a drink (pictured above) and it turned out to be decent.
- 1 oz Howler Head
- .5 oz peach shnapps
- .5 oz Hypnotiq
- .5 oz Grenadine
- 3 oz Orange Juice
Howler Head Summary
I gave Legent Whiskey a pass because it’ was’s at least real American straight whiskey. Howler Head, on the other hand, uses flavorings, which goes against any definition of bourbon or of straight whiskey. Maybe I’m just being a dork about the whole thing, but I don’t like it.
Howler Head is a flavored whiskey specialty. When placed in that category, Howler Head is actually pretty decent. I don’t mind flavored whiskeys – they can be a fun way to make cocktails. However, since Howler Head wants to cbe seen as bourbon, we’ll treat them that way.
In relation to real Kentucky Straight Bourbon, I wouldn’t choose Howler Head over a single drop of the real stuff.