Monday, July 30, 2012
Back to Basics with Beam
As a high fallutin' whiskey aficionado, I don't spend a lot of time drinking Jim Beam. I prefer me a single barrel, cask strength, limited edition non-filtered, get out your credit card type bourbon. In fact, if I'm drinking Beam, it most likely means I'm in an airport, on an airplane or staring down a six bottle bar at a wedding, convention, bar mitzvah, etc.
But my picky tastes aside, Jim Beam is the world's best selling bourbon (assuming you pretend that Jack Daniel's isn't a bourbon, as everyone seems happy enough to do). And what right do I have to call myself a whiskey blogger if I've never written up the standard Jim Beam line. Not much I tell you. Luckily, a Beam miniature bottle sampler is available for a mere $7.99 which includes Beam white, Beam Black, Beam Rye, and perhaps because misery loves company, Red Stag.
Jim Bean White Label, 40% abv ($15)
This has a light nose with candy, medicinal notes and some rye notes. The palate comes on sweet with some medicinal/rye type notes and ends with a bitterness that carries into the finish. It's not good, but it's certainly not horrible.
Jim Beam Black Label, 8 years old, 43% abv ($20)
The nose on this has some of the same candy notes as the White Label but with a dose of oak that gives it a bit more complexity. The palate is quite acidic without much flavor, then some chocolate malt notes, and then the bitterness kicks in. I actually think I like the White Label better than this. The main flavors in this are acid and bitterness and they don't play well together.
Jim Beam Rye ("Yellow Label"), 40% abv ($20)
The nose has rye but more medicinal than spicy. The palate is sweet with canned fruit and just a touch of spice. The spice is a bit more evident in the finish, but not by much. Tasting blind, I doubt I would have ever guessed this was a rye given out light it is on rye spice. This has been my general experience with Beam ryes, so I did a head to head with some Old Overholt, another Beam rye. The Yellow Label actually has a bit more rye spice than the Overholt, while the Overholt seems to have a bit more oak on it and lacks some of the rough edges that the Yellow Label has.
So there it is, the standard Jim Beam line. If I had to choose between these three Beams, I would definitely choose the rye, which has a bit more character. Honestly, these were not as bad as I expected, though I'll still reserve my Beam consumption to the wedding bar.
Later this week, I descend even further into the bottom shelf!