Wednesday, February 20, 2013

REVIEW: Jeni's Whiskey & Pecans

The one thing I've learned about purchasing a pint of Jeni's Splendid isn't so much the top-notch ice cream you'll find inside, but the response you're guaranteed to elicit from the cashier when the price pops up on the checkout screen. Without fail, no matter male or female, old or young, the $10.99 price tag evokes a double take. They still seem skeptical when I inform them, that for the most part, every flavor I've had has been worth the high cost. After exhausting all my Jeni's options outside of her sorbet flavors, which I have no interest in, Whiskey & Pecans seemed review ready. I've always enjoyed the local ingredients stickers plastered on the outside of the transparent pints, so it was nice to see this particular offering utilized OYO ("oh-WHY-oh") whiskey from Middle West Spirits (based in Columbus, Ohio as well).

Although most of the Jeni's ice cream I've had in the past have been free of a nutrition facts label, it seems that their growing popularity have warranted an additional sticker on the backside of the pint. Whiskey-fueled ice cream with notes of honey, vanilla, coconut and cinnamon spiked with savory toasted and salted pecan halves make up Whiskey & Pecans, which comes in at whopping 320 calories per serving, 1280 in the entire carton. Hopefully the tastes and texture contained inside can help alleviate some of the guilt associated with such a high-fat flavor. With a detailed description like the one above, and especially after popping the lid off to expose the multiple pecan halves, the nutrition facts quickly fade from my mind.

Unless I've been gorging on high butterfat flavors on a regular basis, the superior consistency always comes as a bit of a surprise. The companies claiming to produce premium ice cream like Edy's, Turkey Hill and Blue Bunny just can't compete with the bases that make up these flavors. Couple that with the fact that Jeni's is consistently able to pack so much complexity inside each of their cartons and it's hard not to appreciate how well-made some of these selections are. The whiskey-fueled base remains frozen for much longer than others and forces me to give it some time to thaw before scooping out my first sample. Jeni's does a phenomenal job of capturing every aspect of the details they pack into their product descriptions. Not only is the consistency incredible, but each bite takes you on an adventure, one that touches every note of whiskey, honey, vanilla, coconut and cinnamon. Leading with the sweetened taste of dark liquor, the finish brilliantly incorporates slight hints of all the aforementioned tastes, and because of the slow-melting density, allows all the flavors contained inside to be fully comprehended before moving to the next.

Most of the flavors featuring nuts that I review tend to be a disappointment, especially when they're the main focus. Typically, the small chunks of almonds, pecans, walnuts or peanuts found inside only minimally enhance the overall texture and taste, but that's not the case with these savory toasted and salted pecan halves. Nearly spanning across my entire spoon, these hand shelled pecan halves are the ones you'd be paying the big bucks for in specialty stores. Unlike their raw counterparts, which are sometimes included in ice cream, these have been given some TLC prior to be mixed inside. These toasted versions avoid the firm, slightly crunchy consistency some seem to have. Instead, these slightly chewy pecan pieces collapse on impact, leading with a salty initial flavoring that quickly fades away into a buttery aftertaste, a near perfect match for the sweet and boozy flavoring from the base ice cream. For such a simple concept, this was executed with precision, and in doing so, far surpassed all other flavors only featuring nut mix-ins.

Where I Found It: Earth Fare
Grade: B

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