Posts tagged ‘Jim Beam’

Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon Review

James Beam

Jim Beam Bonded is a throwback to the days when Colonel James Beam brought the distillery through Prohibition.

I know it has been way too long since I published a review, but I’ll try to make up for it here in the coming months, as I’ve got a few reviews in the queue.  I’m kicking off my fall reviews with a great bargain bourbon – Jim Beam Bonded (Gold Label) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  I’ve talked about bottled-in-bond bourbons on the site before, and this one is no different.  It is 4 years old, 100 proof (50% abv), from a single distillery, and distilled in a single season.  This is a fairly new product from Beam, and (spoiler alert) I really hope it sticks around.

The color of this bourbon is mild amber, with orange-gold tints.  The nose is rich with big, full vanilla, sawdust, and sweet oak.  The palate is full and sweet with brown sugar, vanilla, creamy vanilla frosting, and rich buttercream.  The finish is long and sweet with vanilla and brown sugar.  Overall, this is a rich, creamy, sweet bourbon with a syrupy sweet, creamy mouthfeel. There is a little oak twinge that runs through it, almost like the wood of a freshly smoked pipe.

In conclusion, this is a very good bourbon, well-made by a distillery that knows exactly what it is doing when it comes to bourbon.  This is sweet, woody, and downright delicious all the way through.  Give this one a whirl, and I suspect it will quickly become a staple of your cabinet with the holidays approaching.  My grade: B.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  At the price, Jim Beam Bonded is certainly one of the best bourbons on the shelf at your local liquor store.

Old Crow Bourbon Review

The Old Crow label is one of the most recognizable bourbon brands in the world, with constant music and movie references.  Interestingly enough, despite the bird on the logo, the brand itself is named after James Crow, a Scotsman who distilled in Kentucky in the early 19th century.  Nowadays, the brand is owned by the Beam Suntory giant, and is distilled at the James Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.  The bottle indicates that this juice is at least 3 years old, and it is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

On the nose, this is a pretty straight forward bourbon with a lot of corn, candy corn, caramel, and vanilla.  This is young and spry stuff, but not at all bad. The palate is a simple, sweet presentation of bourbon full of caramel and vanilla flavors.  Wood is hardly integrated, but that is to be expected.  The finish is short and sweet with caramel and a wee bit of sawdust.

On the whole, this is hardly an offensive bourbon.  It is noticeably young, which makes it a bit simple and straightforward, but I do not really find anything in this bourbon to be especially off-putting.  My biggest complaint is simply that the bourbon is too quick, which makes it a pleasant but uninteresting bourbon experience.  Jim Beam has a quality product here that just needs a little extra loving from the barrel.  My grade: C-.  Price: $10-15/750ml.  What is most appealing about this bourbon is the price point, and how good it really is for $12 a bottle.

Baker’s Bourbon Review

Baker's BourbonSince today is Memorial Day, I thought it important to review an American spirit, specifically a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  Perhaps no distillery in the United States is synonymous with bourbon in the way that Jim Beam is, which is why I have chosen today to review Baker’s, the final member of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection left to review on the blog.  I have already reviewed Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s, and Knob Creek, and they are all solid bourbons.  Baker’s is a 7 year-old Beam bourbon, and it is bottled at 107 proof (53.5% abv).

Upon pouring a measure of Baker’s, the dark amber in the glass is truly beautiful, as is the smell wafting out of the glass. On the nose, Baker’s is a pure bourbon nose of caramel, cinnamon, corn, leather, and oak.  The palate has a medium to full body, with caramel, black peppercorns, oak, corn, deep vanilla, and some bitter tannins.  The finish is slightly bitter, but sweet enough to round it out with corn, caramel, and some lingering vanilla sweetness.

Overall, Baker’s is straightforward bourbon with a lot to offer if you love bourbon.  If you are not a bourbon fan, then this bourbon is likely to change your mind. It is deep, robust, and pleasantly sweet.  The added proof gives it nice depth, and the depth is indicative that this is quality bourbon regardless of how “small batch” it actually is.  This bourbon won’t blow your mind; it will merely remind you that tradition and quality make for good bourbon.  My grade: B/B-.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  If there is a beef to have with this bourbon, it is that there is nothing that especially stands out about it, and it usually runs for close to $40 a bottle.

Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year Bourbon Review

It’s been a while since I did a good old-fashioned bourbon review here at Bargain Bourbon, so today we’re getting into Jim Beam’s new Signature Craft series.  The Jim Beam Signature Craft series is a new line for the famous Beam distillery which will include limited releases (the first release was a bourbon finished with Spanish brandy) and the new Jim Beam 12 year bourbon.  To the best of my knowledge, 12 years is the oldest standard release out of the Beam distillery to date.  It is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv).  The release of the Signature Craft series is not the only thing Beam has been up to in the past year or so.  Beam, Inc. was recently bought by Suntory, Ltd., which was followed shortly by the announcement of their new spokesperson, Mila Kunis.

In the glass, Jim Beam 12 is a beautiful amber, russet color.  On the nose, this bourbon smells of a sawmill (in a good way), with cherry cola, oak, some florals, and some vanilla.  The palate develops the oak even further along with vanilla, cherry cordial, and some tannic bitterness.  The finish is medium in length, with those same cherry notes, oak spice, and some lingering bitterness.  This bourbon is plenty drinkable at its bottle strength, and water tends to bring the flavors apart too much.

Overall, Jim Beam 12 year-old is decent bourbon, but in my opinion, it has spent a little too much time in the wood.  Jim Beam makes very good bourbon, and their new 12 year is no exception.  However, there is a reason Booker Noe liked his bourbon between six and eight years old – that is where Jim Beam’s bourbon is at its best.  Booker Noe knew what he was talking about.  This is a bit like a child that lives at home too long.  It is still very good, but it is just too woody to be my favorite bourbon coming out of Jim Beam.  My grade: B-.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  At the price point, there are bourbons I prefer to this one, but its elegance and age give this bourbon a unique spin on the standard Beam line.

Old Crow Reserve Bourbon Review

Old Crow ReserveToday, I thought I would review a pretty good value bourbon from Jim Beam to mark the occasion of the Japanese beverage giant, Suntory Ltd., buying out Beam, Inc., earlier this week.  This review is of Old Crow Reserve, an addition to the Jim Beam’s Old Crow lineup; it is a bit older and a bit higher proof than the standard Old Crow bourbon, but in a similar price range.  Old Crow Reserve is 4 years old, and is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv).

On the nose, Old Crow Reserve is a soft, bready bourbon.  There are notes of sourdough bread, rye bread, some caramel, and some wet oak.  The palate is light-bodied and very drinkable, with a good balance of rye, corn, cinnamon sugar, caramel, and oak.  The finish is short and sweet, with caramel, vanilla, and a splash of rye spice.

Overall, this bourbon is not going to knock any socks off with its depth or complexity, but it is exactly what you should expect in a 4 year-old bourbon.  I detect no off-flavors that distort the whiskey or make it an unpleasant experience.  That said, there is nothing that really drops my jaw to the floor about Old Crow Reserve, either.  What I like most about this bourbon is that it is priced properly for its age and quality.  This is a versatile bourbon that makes a fantastic cabinet staple and crowd-pleaser.  My grade: C.  Price: $15-20/750ml.  I like this bourbon better than the standard Jim Beam White Label, in both value and overall quality.  Let it ride!

Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon Review

old grand dad 114Well, Scotchvember is over at Bargain Bourbon, and repeal week is here.  With December 5th right around the corner, I am reviewing a bourbon I have wanted to review for a long time, a throwback bourbon to an older time.  It is one of those bourbons that tempts you from the bottom shelf at the liquor store, with its reputation for wild nights and the big numbers “114” across the black box.  Old Grand-Dad 114 has no age statement, but I suspect it is about 7 years old or so.  Like the standard orange bottles of Old Grand-Dad, this whiskey comes from Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill, (the same juice that comprises Basil Hayden’s with a lot more alcohol).  As the name indicates, Old Grand-Dad 114 is bottled at 57% abv/114 proof, and pays homage to Basil Hayden, Sr., whose portrait still graces the Old Grand-Dad bottle.

The first thing you’ll notice after pouring this bourbon is its rich, dark mahogany in the glass.  There are also some orangish hues to the bourbon, giving it a truly beautiful appearance.  From the moment you dip your nose into this bourbon, it is a heavy hitter. There is a lot of cinnamon, brown sugar, rye heat, sawdust, fresh oranges, dried tea leaves, and potpourri.  There is definitely a dense sweetness to it, but the rye influence is palpable from the get-go.  The palate is big, full-bodied and continues right along with the nose.  Notes of corn bread, caramel, tangerine, orange cream, cinnamon, and berry fruits are all present on the palate.  The finish is long and warming, with caramel, sawdust, red hot cinnamon, and some tannic bite.  This whiskey definitely benefits from time in the bottle and time in the glass.  The first pour out of the bottle was hot and rough, but as the bottle opens up, this bourbon becomes something very enjoyable.

Overall, I am big fan of this bourbon, especially for the price.  It reminds of the great deal that is Wild Turkey 101.  It is not really a bourbon for everybody, especially if you are new to bourbon.  On the other hand, if you are a bourbon fan who needs a solid cabinet staple this winter, look no further than Old Grand-Dad 114.  This is by no means the best thing at your liquor store, but it shines brightly at its price point, for sure.  After all, any bourbon good enough for George Thorogood is good enough for me.  My grade: B/B-.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  For under $30 and 114 proof, this is really a hard bourbon to beat.

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey Review

Old Overholt Rye WhiskeyToday, I am reviewing Old Overholt Rye, one of the oldest whiskey brands in the U.S.  According to the bottle, the company began in 1810 outside of Pittsburgh.  Nowadays, Old Overholt is owned by and distilled at Jim Beam in Kentucky.  Old Overholt is a straight rye whiskey, bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).  There is no age statement on the bottle, but my guess is that Old Overholt is around 4 years old.  I’ve had a number of requests for a review of Old Overholt, and a gentleman at the bar last week was telling me how it was his favorite American whiskey, inspiring me to grab a bottle of Old Overholt.

Old Overholt is a medium gold color.  The nose reminds me a lot of other Jim Beam rye whiskeys I have tried (Jim Beam Yellow, Knob Creek Rye).  There are notes of honey, eucalyptus, tea leaves, and some nutmeg.  The nose is light and soft, but still nice and complex.  The palate is light and herbal.  That eucalyptus note is still there with some nice black tea.  There is a light spiciness to the palate as well, like wood shavings or spiced nuts.  The finish is medium-short, with a hearty dose of rye and nutmeg.  There is a little bit of oak mixed in as well.

Overall, I am a fan of Old Overholt.  It is a great, easy-drinking rye whiskey with enough complexity to make it a fun drink.  It tastes good, and it stands well in most cocktails.  Most importantly, Old Overholt is very reasonably priced.  Even in Boston, Old Overholt is rarely over $20 a bottle.  The value in this bottle is fantastic.  My grade: C/C+.  Price: $15-20/750ml.  Old Overholt is a fine example of rye whiskey, a great introduction to the style at a great price.

p.s. This review is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.  An attack like the bombing at the Boston Marathon is carried out in order to sever relationships.  Whiskey (when enjoyed properly and responsibly) is about building relationships and enjoying life and the people who bring joy.  Please join me in fighting injustice with love, relationships, and good whiskey.  Let it ride!

Some Thoughts on New, Aged Releases: Bulleit 10 and Jim Beam 12

Well, as anybody who follows the bourbon world knows, the blogs have been blowing up the last week with Maker’s Mark’s news of its decrease in proof.  Thankfully, for the sake of all our sanity, this heathenistic decision has now been repealed.  So, naturally, we need something else to talk about in bourbon land.  As I am always on the hunt for the latest and greatest value whiskeys, I thought I would offer some preliminary thoughts on a few bourbons on the horizon.

Diageo has recently bombarded the shelves (even in Boston) with Bulleit 10.  I have reviewed the standard Bulleit Frontier Bourbon and the Bulleit 95 Rye, with the former passing and the latter performing very well.  According to my roommate Chris and Jason Pyle, both these whiskeys are very good in cocktails.  I have every reason to suspect that the Bulleit 10 will continue that tradition.  I am excited to see how this whiskey fairs as a sipping bourbon, too.  Four Roses is the supplier of the Bulleit label bourbons, and I have every reason to suspect that Four Roses will continue making good bourbon.  I have always maintained that Bulleit’s Frontier bourbon is too drying a spirit for a straight pour, much the way I feel about Old Grand-Dad.  I am anxious to see if the 10 year brings a mellower side to Bulleit.  Of course, it is also priced around $40/750 ml here in Boston which might make it a good value buy if it comes through.

The other whiskey that is set to hit the shelves this summer is Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 year.  According to Chuck Cowdery’s post on the subject, Jim Beam will be releasing a craft series that will include the 12 year old and some other limited releases.  One of the traditional knocks against Jim Beam has always been that they have stayed away from limited releases, whereas Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, and Woodford Reserve have sought to explore new frontiers of American whiskey with all sorts of limited edition bottlings.  In addition to being new territory in terms of limited edition bourbons, Jim Beam 12 year will also be the oldest bourbon to come out of Jim Beam as a standard product (there have been some limited edition older bottlings).  To that point, I am excited to see what this bourbon is made up of since Jim Beam has always been one of my favorite bottlers of great value whiskey.  Devil’s Cut, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, and Booker’s are all very good value whiskeys to have around your cabinet.  Supposedly, this new 12 year will be about $50/750 ml.  That is about the price of a bottle of Booker’s, so this will have some living up to do in my book, but I am excited nonetheless.

If any readers have had a chance to try these bourbons, I’ll love to hear what you think so far.  In the meantime, let it ride!

(What’s In) Phil’s Cabinet

Happy New Year!  To kick of the New Year, I am starting a new section on the blog called (What’s In) Phil’s Cabinet.  People ask me all the time what I am drinking at present, what they might expect if they came by for dinner and a dram.  So, on the first of every month, I will update what is in my whisk(e)y cabinet, both opened and unopened bottles.  This is also an opportunity for you to put in requests as to what you would like to see me review in the future, whether it is Scotch, Irish, Bourbon, Rye, Welsh, Indian, Japanese, or other type of whisk(e)y.  So, leave me a comment, or drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter.

Here is what is in the cabinet as of January 1, 2013:


Angel’s Envy (unopened) – This is a bourbon that some folks have asked about, and I should have a review of it up by the end of spring.  It is a bourbon finished in port wine casks, and I am very excited to try it.

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2002 Vintage – This is a wonderful everyday bourbon, and I looking forward to grabbing a bottle of the 2003 Vintage that just hit shelves a few weeks ago.

Maker’s 46 – This is very good bourbon, with a very nice, deep sweetness that unfolds beautifully.  If it were a few bucks cheaper, it would contend for one of my favorite value bourbons.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed (unopened) – Another whiskey that has been requested a lot, this is a barrel-strength offering from Wild Turkey.  I am excited to try it, review it, and here what y’all have to say about it.

William Larue Weller (fall 2012 bottling) (unopened) – This is a barrel strength, limited-release wheated bourbon from Buffalo Trace that my father found as a Christmas present.  Not necessarily a value bourbon, but it is one of the most anticipated bourbon releases every year.


Jim Beam Yellow Label – A solid every day pour that makes a very nice cocktail, too.

Sazerac 18 yr. (fall 2012 bottling) – This is my favorite whiskey currently in my cabinet.  I love this one.  Not necessarily an ideal price point, but you get your money’s worth for $70.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac (fall 2012 bottling) (unopened) – This is the younger, brash brother to the Sazerac 18.  Jim Murray rated this bottling as his Whisky of the Year in the 2013 Whisky Bible (William Larue Weller was his runner-up).

Willett Single Barrel Estate Reserve 4 yr. (unopened) – This is an LDI rye, bottled at cask strength.  My affinity for Bulliet 95 is what made me seek this one out.


Ardbeg 10 yr. – This is one of my favorite Islay Scotches from one of my favorite Scotch distilleries.  As far as Scotches go, it is a pretty good value, and I’ll probably put up a review here in the next few weeks.

The Black Grouse – A nice, peaty blended whisky that works well for an everyday Scotch.

Highland Park 12 yr. – Another beautiful Single Malt Scotch from Scottish islands.  I should have my review of this one up soon.

Those are the whiskeys in my cabinet at present.  What’s in your cabinet?  What whiskeys do you want to see reviewed on the blog?  What whiskeys are you hoping to try in 2013?  Once again, Happy New Year and let it ride!

Knob Creek Rye Whiskey Review

Knob Creek RyeThis is a review of Jim Beam’s newest rye whiskey release, under the Knob Creek label.  Like the original Knob Creek bourbon, this one is bottled at 100 proof.  There is no age statement, but I suspect it is not a very old product.  My guess is that it is a little older than Jim Beam Yellow Label, but not by much.  As followers of the blog have probably noted, the Knob Creek label has never been one of my favorites, although I am a fan of the Single Barrel Reserve.  Of course, I am always up for having my mind changed, which is why I got my hands on a few samples of Knob Creek Rye.  Here are my thoughts…

On the nose, this whiskey smells earthy to me.  There is some mint there, which reminds me I’m drinking a rye.  There are also some herbal notes to it, like basil leaves or musty oregano.  The palate has a nice medium body with a nice entry of cinnamon, ginger, and some vanilla.  It is definitely a hot, intense whiskey.  You know you are drinking it at 100 proof when it is drank straight.  Water lessens the heat, but it does not open the flavors or the bouquet up at all.  The finish is long, minty, and a little spicy.

Overall, I am not impressed with this whiskey.  It is a solid rye, with a lot of rye heat.  However, there really is not much depth or complexity to this one.  I would like to see what would happen if Jim Beam released an older rye, maybe something like ten years.  I think some of the sweetness of the barrel would add complexity to the whiskey to save it from the one dimension of rye in this whiskey.  My grade: C.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  This would be a nice whiskey to have around for mixed drinks if it was half the price (in my humble opinion).