The Taste of Three Honeys

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Largely divorced from its regional and rural origins, honey has become just another condiment in most American kitchens — something gooey and sweet to be applied to peanut butter sandwiches or, at best, used in recipes when called for.

A straight-up taste test of three locally available honeys (plain, and on whitebread toast) revealed differences both subtle and profound between different varieties.

Roundy’s Honey US Grade A Fancy

Intriguing lavender-like notes underlying a somewhat muted honey base flavor typify this ordinary supermarket brand. It lacks the purity and intensity of WNA honey (see below) but, when tasted on its own, reveals that even everyday stuff has more going on than you might expect.

Wisconsin Natural Acres 100 Percent All Natural Honey

This brand sports an intensely sweet, clean, pure profile — there’s a clarity and power to it that makes it resemble your idealized memory of honey’s flavor, with the volume boosted significantly. (Tomorrow’s edition of the Heavy Table features a long profile of WNA beekeeper Doug Schulz.)

Goya Pure Honey with Comb

This honey was smoky and earthy, with the most background noise and funk of the three varieties sampled. The comb is a personal choice — it adds body and texture to sandwiches or toast, but can be jarring for those used to the purely liquid form of honey.


  1. le bender

    thanks James. other than the obvious middle choice, can you tell us where the other two options are sourced from? I always check where the honey is packed from, and sometimes I’m suprised to see local products with brand names of them, especially with honey. did you happen to find out if it is it true that locally produced honey is good for people for allergies? or is that just an old wives’ tale.

  2. James Norton

    The lore of honey vis-a-vis allergies, burns, etc. etc. is pretty deep, and I haven’t seen anything out there that categorically proves it or debunks it. That’s a whole ‘nother article, to say the least. As for where honeys are packed from — as I understand it, packed from and sourced from are different questions. You might have a honey that’s 50 percent Chinese, 25 percent Mexican, 25 percent domestic, packed and pasteurized regionally. I just assume my honey is from God-knows-where, unless it’s a small brand that’s explicitly locally sourced / locally made.

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