Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is a mixture of whisky, cinnamon flavoring and sweeteners that is produced by the Sazerac Company. As of 2018, Fireball is among the top selling whisky brands in the United States.[1] Its foundation is Canadian whisky, and the taste otherwise resembles the candy with a similar name, Ferrara Candy Company's "Atomic Fireball" candy.[2] It is bottled at 33% alcohol by volume (66 U.S. proof).[3]

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
TypeCinnamon flavored Canadian whisky
ManufacturerSazerac Company
Country of originCanada
Alcohol by volume33% by vol (66 proof)
IngredientsCanadian whisky

According to the official Fireball website, the product was developed in Canada in the mid-1980s, and for a long time was little known outside of Canada.[4] In addition to the United States and Canada, Fireball is now also available in other countries.[5]


Fireball was originally part of a line of flavored schnapps developed by Seagram in the mid-1980s.[3][6] The manufacturer's story line is, in part, that it was the product of a Canadian bartender's efforts to warm up from an Arctic blast. The Sazerac Company purchased the brand rights and formula from Seagram in 1989.[3][6]

It was marketed as "Dr. McGillicuddy's Fireball Whisky".[3] Ostensibly, the named doctor was Dr. Aloysius Percival McGillicuddy, allegedly more commonly referred to as "the shot doctor"[3] who was "born" in the year 1808.[7][upper-alpha 1] Later, in 2007, the product was rebranded as "Fireball Cinnamon Whisky".[8][6]

An April 2014 article in Bloomberg Business Week said "It's also one of the most successful liquor brands in decades. In 2011, Fireball accounted for a mere $1.9 million in sales in U.S. gas stations, convenience stores, and supermarkets, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. In 2013, sales leapt to $61 million, passing Jameson Irish whiskey and Patrón tequila."[3] In 2012 and 2013, the product had a surge in popularity, which the company achieved by using social media, cultivating bartenders, word of mouth, and a relatively small advertising budget. It is said that the sharp increase in sales early in its resurgence(late 2011/early 2012) can be attributed to a grass roots effort by Beer Can Alley, a Des Moines, Iowa Country bar. Several national country music acts would perform at the establishment during this time and inspired multiple references in many popular songs [2][9] In 2013, it became one of the top ten most popular liquors, displacing Jose Cuervo tequila.[10] In 2016, Bloomberg reported that with estimated sales of at least $150 million in 2015, the brand had overtaken Jägermeister in popularity to become the top-selling liqueur in the United States.[11]

The brand's label was designed by Ross Sutherland, who's also designed labels for Black Magic rum, Wheatley Vodka, and some other brands.


Fireball is usually consumed as a "straight shot" or on the rocks.[2] The Sazerac website says "the cinnamon flavor is often used for shooters but can add character to a mixed drink."[9]

There are, however, various cocktails that use Fireball as an ingredient,[12] and the company has encouraged a variety of such cocktails through its official website and social media channels.[2] They include "Cinna-Rita", "Fire Nut Ball", "Hot Cherry Fizz", "Red Apple Spice", and "Ring-of-Fire".[13] Another is a blend of Irish coffee called "Fire Starter Coffee".[14] An "Angry Balls" mixer is a combination of Angry Orchard cider and Fireball.[15]

Other concoctions made with Fireball include:

The latter energy drink bomb shot may be compared to the Jägerbomb.

Awards and accolades

Health concerns

In 2014, Finland and Sweden reported that Fireball contained amounts of propylene glycol that surpassed the EU limitations of 1g/kg.[16][17] [18][19][20] Although not part of the EU, Norway also decided to recall the product.[18] The company responded by saying the product was "perfectly safe to drink" and called it a "small recipe-related compliance issue" related to the difference in regulations between the North American and European markets.[21] The recalled batches were replaced with a compliant product, and sales were allowed to resume for the EU-compliant formulation.

As of 2018, Fireball does not use propylene glycol in any of their products. [22][23]

Similar products

There is a variety of cinnamon liquor products available and are a popular form of flavored liquor. They include cinnamon vodka, tequila, and bourbon.

In early 2012, the Sazerac company sued Hood River Distillers over the allegedly confusing trade name and marketing of its product, SinFire Cinnamon Whisky.[24][25][26] The case was settled in 2013 and SinFire Cinnamon Whisky continues to exist.

In 2015, the Sazerac company filed a lawsuit complaining that the Jack Daniel's division of Brown-Forman had infringed its Fireball trademark while marketing Tennessee Fire, a cinnamon flavored Tennessee whiskey.[27] The lawsuit was dropped later that year.[28]


  1. See his apocryphal will where he "present[s] the recipe for Dr. McGillicuddy’s Schnapps, whose intense taste made me a bit of a legend in these parts." "Dr. Aloysius McGilicuddy". October 20, 2008. Retrieved July 31, 2013.


  1. Price, Emily. "These Are the 20 Best-Selling Whiskies in the United States". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  2. Melendez, Elazar David (29 July 2013). "Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey Is The Most Popular Liquor Brand You've Never Heard of". Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  3. Leonard, Devin (April 24, 2014). "Successful Marketing: Fireball Whisky: Selling a Brand, Shot by Shot". Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg News. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  4. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Brand Portfolio Entry Archived 2013-07-30 at the Wayback Machine on official web site.
  5. Distributors list on official web site.
  6. Hoium, Travis (October 6, 2015). "How Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey Became a Billion-Dollar Brand". Motley Fool. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  7. "Fireball Whisky". Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  8. "Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is heating up". Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  9. Reidy, Chris (July 13, 2013). "Fireball Cinnamon Whisky sales may be hotter than last week's heat wave, firm says". Boston Globe. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  10. "Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Cracks the Top Liquors". NeilsenTopTen. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  11. Coffey, Brendan (December 16, 2018). "Cheap-Liquor Billionaire Looks Abroad as Home Market Slows". Independent Beverage Group. Retrieved June 24, 2018 via Bloomberg.
  12. Hoare, Peter (January 9, 2014). "5 Awesome Drinks You Can Make With Fireball Cinnamon Whisky". Food & drinks. MTV. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  13. "Ring of Fire Shot". Fireball Drinks. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  14. "Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey". Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  15. "Angry Balls". Angry Orchard Cider Company, LLC. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  16. Schneider, Steven (October 28, 2014). "Fireball whiskey recalled in Finland, Sweden due to high toxicity". Tech Times. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  17. Schneider, Steven (2014). "Background Review for the excipent propylene glycol" (PDF). Europe Medicines Agency. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  18. Kaufman, Alexander C. (October 29, 2014). "Fireball Whisky Recalled In 3 Countries Over Antifreeze Ingredient". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  19. "Fireball liqueur sales blocked in Finland, Sweden". Helsinki, Finland: WTSP. October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  20. "Schnapp Judgment". October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  21. "Fireball Dispels Internet Rumors" (PDF). The Sazerac Company. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  22. "Fireball Cinnamon Whisky | Tastes like Heaven, Burns like Hell What happens next is up to You". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  23. Stanz, Carissa (2018-11-01). "Fireball Whisky: 10 Facts You Didn't Know About the Cinnamon Liquor". Wide Open Eats. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  24. Barrouquere, Brett (14 February 2012). "Fireball Whiskey vs. SinFire Whiskey: Sazerac, Inc. Sues Hood River Distillers for Cinnamon Whiskey Names". Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  25. Farrell, Kenan (21 December 2012). "Oregon Trademark Litigation Update --Sazerac Company v. Hood River Distillers". Oregon Intellectual Property Law. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  26. Simpson, Judge Charles R. III (19 December 2012). "Sazerac Company, Inc. v. Hood River Distillers, Inc. – Document 37 Court Description: Memorandum Opinion". Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  27. Loosemore, Bailey (December 21, 2015). "Will Jack Daniel's get burned over 'Fireball' ads?". Louisville Courier-Journal. USA Today NETWORK. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  28. Loosemore, Bailey (December 22, 2015). "Fireball whiskey maker drops suit against Jack Daniel's". Louisville Courier-Journal. USA Today NETWORK. Retrieved January 6, 2019.

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