Those of you familiar with Pinnacle’s branding will already know they branch out into some pretty wild flavors. While not a huge fan of vodka myself, I have definitely been lured by my own curiosity to try some of their more unusual flavors (I have a weak spot for Swedish Fish and Cotton Candy, both of which play into their flavor spectrum).
One of their newer releases, Pumpkin pie has only been on the market for about a year so far, so for those of you who like pumpkin in all of their alcohol, we delved into the bottle to see how their transition over to their new ownership, Beam, Inc., is going.
Name: Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka
Place of Origin / Distiller: France / Beam, Inc.
Specialty Prep/ Individuality:
Pinnacle Vodka has the distinction of being the fastest growing spirits brand for the past three years running. Like all of their spirits, this seasonal release is distilled from French Wheat and features imitation flavoring. A 750 mL bottle retails for approximately $12.99.
The first thing that strikes you after opening the bottle is not so much pumpkin, but an overwhelming sense of butter cream frosting. It is accompanied by a bit of nuttiness, and warm cinnamon sugar toast, (the latter of which is probably a quality imparted by its wheated origins).
To get a full spectrum of the vodka, we made four different drinks with it. The first neat, the second, a pumpkin martini, third, a twist on the classic screwdriver, and the fourth, a little concoction we put together and like to call “Pumpkin Butter”.
Despite initial reservations, Pinnacle performed very well as a neat / rocks drink. The butter cream aspect was still prevalent, but settles more into a creamy pumpkin icing, with pronounced powdered sugar / bubble gum notes, some light spice, and a nice bit of bready pie crust. The addition of an ice chunk makes it exceptionally smooth, and relieves even the slightest hint of alcohol burn. It may not hold the highfalutin attitude of other brands, but it certainly yields a particularly easy sipping drink.
The second recommendation was a pumpkin pie martini, and while it didn’t perform quite as well here, the addition of a spritz of dry vermouth definitely brings out the wheat body of the spirit for the drinker who actually likes to taste the vodka. The addition of a pie spiced rim did a lot for bringing more of a traditional pumpkin pie quality to the drink though, as well as some needed balance to the pure sweetness of the flavoring.
In the screwdriver style cocktail the pumpkin qualities, frankly, tend to get pretty well lost. Instead, the primary difference here seems to be the huge whipped cream note, making the cocktail more Dreamsicle than pie. All in all, it vanishes easily and is inoffensive, but doesn’t stand up enough to warrant using the flavor over any other vodkas.
My favorite creation of the night (admittedly, likely because I built it to my own taste) was my “Pumpkin Butter” cocktail. (Made from 2 oz of the vodka, ½ oz of cacao infused brandy, ½ oz of hazelnut liqueur, a bar spoon of maple syrup and a splash of cream). The combination seems to help push the pumpkin pie idea to the forefront, and provides a nice mix of creamy, wheat, and nuttiness landing the drink firmly between a White Russian and a pumpkin cream cheese bagel. The Dude abides.