Pumking Whiskey & The Royal Orchard Cocktail | A Spirit Review & Recipe

Southern Tier Distilling’s Pumking Whiskey is a delicious seasonal libation full of brown sugar and sweet spice. Use it to celebrate fall with The Royal Orchard – an apple and pumpkin spice cocktail perfect for October evenings.

Fall is in full force, and with it comes pumpkin spice season. I adore this time of year, if only because of all the seasonal special editions: Chocolates, coffee blends, and now – liquor! For the first time, New York-based brewery and distillery Southern Tier has expanded its popular line of pumpkin products to include a new flavored spirit, Pumking Whiskey.

Read on for more about this sweetly spiced liquor, and stick around for The Royal Orchard – a delicious autumn cocktail featuring Pumking Whiskey.

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A bottle of Southern Tier Pumking Whiskey with a crown-topped cocktail pick and small orange pumpkin.
The Royal Orchard Cocktail in a rocks glass with a crown-topped cocktail pick lined with dark cherries.

Southern Tier’s Pumking Whiskey

Southern Tier is well known for their excellent craft beers, and especially for their seasonal flavors. Warlock and Pumking Imperial Ale are arguably two of the best and most reliable pumpkin beers on the market each fall. Unsurprisingly, as soon as I learned Southern Tier Distilling was releasing a related high proof spirit, I became obsessed with finding a bottle of my own.

Despite the limited distribution, I spent weeks checking the website for nearby sellers and calling around to liquor stores. Finally, I found some – a store one state over in a town I’d never heard of just got a large shipment. I rushed out and grabbed two reasonably priced bottles, crossing my fingers that this novel whiskey would be drinkable, let alone any good. Seasonal one-shot liquors have a tendency to be hit-or-miss – was Pumking a new triumph, or was it a gimmick capitalizing on its catchy namesake? As I hope is evident by my introduction, I’m happy to report that my efforts were not in vain.

The Royal Orchard Cocktail in a rocks glass with a crown-topped cocktail pick lined with dark cherries with bottle of Southern Tier Pumking Whiskey behind.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Southern Tier describes a Pumking Whiskey as “pumpkin pie in a (shot) glass”, and they aren’t wrong. It certainly evokes the traditional comfort of the dessert. Aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of ginger mingle with brown sugar for a well-balanced flavor that is sweet but not cloying. Holding it on your tongue for a moment, you can even taste the earthiness of creamy roasted pumpkin and buttery crust. The resulting combination is a warm, relaxing libation perfect for sipping.

An Apple & Pumpkin Spice Cocktail

A warming whiskey cocktail pairs perfectly with cool October nights around a firepit. While Southern Tier has a number of fantastic recipes worked up, I really wanted to come up with my own riff on a traditional whiskey sour (a family favorite in my house) to go with this new fall favorite. After a number of trials that were too boozy or too sweet, the right combination came to me. Playing with the popularity of apples alongside pumpkins this time of year, the cocktail is finished with a pour of dry sparkling cider. This effervescent mixer balances out the otherwise intimidating booziness of the drink, allowing the Pumking flavors to shine without adding extra sweetness.

Finding Seasonal Liquor

I’m usually hesitant to use specialized liquors in my recipes, because I know distribution in the US (let alone anywhere else) is rarely guaranteed. I hope you can find a bottle of Pumking Whiskey in your area, if only so we can boost the signal for Southern Tier to keep up their experiments.

If a pumpkin whiskey isn’t available, have no fear! Substitute a sweet spiced or honey whiskey and add a few drops of cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg bitters. It won’t be the same, but it will still taste like fall in a glass.

A glass of The Royal Orchard next to a bottle of Pumking Whiskey.
A bottle of Southern Tier Pumking Whiskey flanked by stacked pumpkings and a little cauldron of skulls.

The Royal Orchard Pumking Whiskey Cocktail

Full of sweet fall flavors, The Royal Orchard is a delicious apple and pumpkin spice cocktail featuring Southern Tier Distilling’s Pumking Whiskey.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course cocktails, Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail



  • Combine the whiskey, amaro, and lemon juice together in a shaker with ice. Shake until frosty. Strain into a rocks glass and top with sparkling apple cider and a few drops of bitters. Garnish with a dried apple slice and a cocktail cherry.


Whiskey Substitutes: If you love the sound of this cocktail but can’t get ahold of Pumking Whiskey, have no fear! Substitute any flavored sweet whiskey or bourbon (think honey whiskey or brown sugar bourbon) and add a few dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or clove bitters to taste.
Keyword apple, cider, cocktail, pumpkin, spice, sweet, whiskey
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