A couple years ago I ordered sourwood honey from a company in Georgia. I had heard that sourwood is great stuff, so I was surprised to find it utterly characterless. Last month however I stepped into the Metropolitan Market in Queen Anne to look at their honeys and found this example from the Savanah Bee Company. I decided to give Sourwood another chance. Turns out it’s fantastic, and nothing like my previous experience.
There is an excellent article about sourwood honey and the trees it comes from on the Honey Traveler.
This is surprising right away. It comes on both sweet and bitter/sour, with a bright woody sort of flavor and a background of spices (it’s those spices you smell in the jar). It ends with a dryness that lasts on your tongue after the echoes of its complex flavors have faded. All this reminds me of French chestnut honey, which is similarly bitter and dry, but it doesn’t have the funky nuttiness that chestnut honey has. It’s more like a candy or cough drop. In any case, if I ever make a “world class honeys” list, this will be on it.