Thursday, September 11, 2014
Dusty Thursday: Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece 18 yo Cognac Finished
Back at the dawn of the bourbon craze, Jim Beam was a leading innovator in American whiskey. They helped kick start the craze with their small batch collection. Then, in 1999, they became one of the first distilleries to try to move bourbon into the super premium direction.
That year, they released the Distiller's Masterpiece collection, an 18 year old bourbon finished in Cognac cask. This was the first cask finished bourbon that I know of. It went for the then startling price of $250. They followed up with a 20 year old bourbon finished in port casks.
Reviews of the series were mixed at best and the collection faded. Recently, now that finishing has caught on, Beam has brought back the Distiller's Masterpiece label for some new bourbons.
Today, I'm going back to the early days to try a slice of bourbon history: the original 18 year old, Cognac finished Distiller's Masterpiece.
Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece, 18 year old, 49.5% abv
I need to start this one out with a disclaimer. I am not a fan of Beam bourbon, and I'm generally not a fan of finished bourbon. Based on this, I definitely did not have high expectations for this bottle.
The nose on this has some rye spice and then sweet, almost sherry like notes. The palate has brown sugar and vanilla with lots of candy notes. The finish is minty. This stuff is just delicious. It's sweet without being cloying, and the wine finish really comes through.
Given my dislike of Beam and finished bourbons, this one really surprised me. It just goes to show that you should always keep an open mind. Now I'm interested in trying the port finished version.