Tag Archives: Jim Beam

Jim Beam Soft Red Wheat

Jim Beam Signature Craft Soft Red Wheat 11 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon
45% ABV
$50 (375ml)
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Jim Beam® Harvest Bourbon Collection™ best exemplifies the merger of tradition with unique experimentation and exploratory craftsmanship. It’s the ultimate experience for the truest of whiskey adventurers, a product 11 years old with the passion of seven generations of whiskey making.

Color: Golden honey to amber
Aroma Slightly soft with mild oak notes
Taste Sweet and softly spicy; caramel, vanilla, slight light brown sugar sweetness
Finish Light bodied and very approachable

What Gary Says:
Nose: Vanilla with a bit of cinnamon, sweet without much wood; soft anise with subtle stewed peaches.
Palate: Soft, sweet corn, with a touch of fruit (pears and apples).
Finish: Moderate in length, and wet.
Comments: The nose has a familiar “Beam” hint to it (which I apologize for failing to describe better than that!) I would not have guessed this was 11 yrs old; as it is very soft, mellow, and smooth. I didn’t get much wood at all, which isn’t a bad thing. This is a very approachable, easy to drink whiskey – although it is priced such that it is more of a novelty than something I would stock in the bar.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says:
Nose: Richer and less hot alcohol funky than normal Beam. Honeysuckle and cinnamon candies.
Palate: Nice soft creamy mouthfeel. Toffee and corn pudding sweetness playing with a surprising spicy back that would almost make me think of of rye bourbon.
Finish: Peppery and viscous.
Comments: Beam goes wheat. A curiosity that most bourbon geeks should try. The continuity of the Beam yeast is an interesting counterpoint to the new wheated mashbill. It’s very easy to drink and enjoyable. However, at $50 for a half bottle it’s not a $100 bottle of bourbon for sure. For the casual drinker I can’t say that this should move to the top of your list.
Rating: Stands Out

Distillery Tour: Jim Beam

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Jim Beam is about as ubiquitous to bourbon as you can get. As the number one selling bourbon in the world (we won’t get into the whole Jack Daniel’s thing today) you can find it in the far reaching corners of the world. Even though you can find it almost anywhere, you might want to consider visiting where it’s made. Well, it’s actually made at two distilleries…one in Clermont, Kentucky and another in Boston, Kentucky but only the Clermont location is open for tours. This past April I made the trek to Clermont with some Georgia Bourbon Society pals to see what it was all about.

I’ve been to Jim Beam once before a number of years ago and the video and gift shop they had then was a distant and sad memory from what they have now. It’s referred to as the American Stillhouse and it is a great new facility. To get there you can either take I-65 north to Kentucky highway 245 south to Happy Hollow Road or from Bardstown, Kentucky take 245 north to Happy Hollow Road. Ten years ago when I was last there you could walk up, get in line, see the video, have a sip of bourbon and be on your way in about 30 minutes. Now, I would recommend booking a reservation in advance. There are two tours available at the moment. We took the standard Guided Tour which is $10 and that does not go towards any purchases in the gift shop. It’s about 75 minutes. There is also the VIP Super Premium Tour with Fred Noe for a modest $199 and that one lasts about six hours.

Once your tour begins you load up outside of the gift shop in a branded bus and head up to the distillery. The tour starts by walking you through the distilling process in the miniature experimental distillery they have set up in a smaller complex next to the main distillery. It’s been around for about two years. The tour guides are well spoken and surprisingly knowledgeable. They walk you through the history and legal designations of bourbon and what is required to make it while in the old water sourcing warehouse.

From there you head to the miniature cooker, fermentation tanks, and still to talk through grains, mashbills, and yeast. The standard mashbill for Jim beam, Old Crow, Knob Creek, Baker’s, and Booker’s is 76% corn, 13% rye and 10% barley. Their higher rye mashbill used for Old Grand Dad and Basil Hayden is 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% barley. During the discussion of yeast our guide confirmed (multiple times) that they are now using the same yeast for all their whiskeys. In 1987 when National Distillers Group sold their spirits business to Fortune Brands Beam brought over the yeast National Distillers was using for the Old Grand Dad brand and mashbill. At what time that was converted to the standard Beam yeast strain for Old Grand Dad products has not been confirmed. I guess that kind of makes it “New” Grand Dad. 😉

In discussion of distillation it was also confirmed that the Boston plan makes exclusively product destined for Jim Beam White and the flavored Beam products. Everything else comes from the Clermont distillery along with the balance of the Jim Beam White destined distillate. For nearly all the Beam products the low wine comes off the still at 125 proof/62.5% ABV and off the second distillation at 135 proof/67.5% ABV for the high wines. From there it gets watered down to the legally required 125 proof for barreling. Booker’s is the exception. It is distilled at a higher temperature thus equaling a lower proof (more of the water evaporates with the alcohol at the higher temperature) and comes off the first distillation at 115 proof and the second distillation at 125 proof so that it can go straight into the barrel with no additional water.

Next they take you to the miniature filling station. A volunteer gets to fill a barrel surrounded by the barrel heads of all the commemorative barrels of bourbon made by Beam. After this it’s off to the full distillery.
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Down a walkway you head into the main still room. These babies are huge compared the little experimental stills you just saw. This is a high performance, high quality control operation. Through the mass of production noise you can see computer displays showing all the production metrics. It’s quite a sight but it’s so loud that you’re happy to soon head back out.
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The next area is for dumping. Knob Creek was on the dumping block when we came by. Everyone got a nice sniff and then we were ushered over to the bottling line. You now have the opportunity to hand bottle either a bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel or Jim Beam White Single Barrel. The neat thing we found out is that the excess whiskey from the barrel (no barrel yields exact multiples of 750 mls) is used to wash these bottles so that there is no water or bourbon contaminating the Single Barrel bottles that didn’t come from that barrel.

The last stop in this area was the decanter room. It’s kind of neat to see all the different designs that have held Jim Beam over the years. Some of them are so ornate that you can barely imagine them actually holding bourbon.

Next we are off to the warehouse. Nothing to me smells as good as a whiskey warehouse. All that old whiskey slowly giving up shares to the angels makes for a delicious aroma. A few places where barrels are raised and dropped allow you the chance to look up vertically and see how many stories of whiskey are stacked in each warehouse. It’s impressive.
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After the warehouse you head to the tasting room. This is a cool set up. You get a pass card that is good for two pours from these drink machines that I’ve only seen at wine bars. You can choose your two pours from any of Beam’s regularly sold products (no Old Grand Dad, Old Overholt, or Old Crow). After your tastes you can head home or back to the gift shop.
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All manner of Jim Beam Brand paraphernalia can be had at the gift shop. If you’re looking for whiskey, they sell the range of Beam brands (again no Old Grand Dad, Old Overholt or Old Crow). If you want a gift shop exclusive you can get a bottle of Fred Noe’s select bourbon which is really just the seven year old white label. However, it’s got a different label and Fred selected it so that’s something. If you want to drop $200 you can get a Distiller’s Masterpiece is a sexy decanter finished in sherry casks.

I was really impressed with the new Beam complex and tour. It’s first rate in every way. If you’re in the area or even if you might consider making a designated trip then it’s worthwhile.

One last note on Beam: There is now “Fred’s Smokehouse” open on the grounds where you can get barbeque for lunch. It’s staffed by some older Kentucky ladies who are about as sweet as the chocolate bourbon pie. I feel comfortable saying that I am a lover of the “Que” and I appreciate all styles: Dry and wet, Kansas City and Texas, Carolina Mustard and Alabama White. However, I do NOT recommend the Smokehouse. The watery meat, stale buns, and mediocre sauce should be avoided. You can get a much better meal at any number of places down the road in Bardstown.

Jim Beam in August

We did a slew of Old Grand Dad reviews in June and then took a little Highland Park break in July. This was mostly because I had some HP stuff I couldn’t wait to get into. Well, now that August is here we’re going to finish going through Jim Beam’s bourbon family with these guys:

1. Jim Beam 7 Year Old
2. Baker’s
3. Booker’s
4. Knob Creek

I also have some Costco private label Beam juice to review. That should do it for August unless I can find some of the ever elusive Beam’s Choice or break down and buy some Old Crow.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

June Review Schedule: Old Grand Dad

I recall a few years ago how surprised I was to find out that Jim Beam only makes two bourbons. Yes they sell quite a few bottlings but unlike Buffalo Trace and Four Roses they only use two recipes for there regular line of products. Like many distillers they have been experimenting in recent years but aside from rare one time experiments bottled for travel retail like Jim Beam Signature, they only use two recipes for all their bourbon products. Most of their products use the standard Jim Beam recipe. It shows up in Jim Beam White Label, Jim Beam 7 Year old, Jim Beam Black, Knob Creek, Knob Creek Reserve, Bookers, and Bakers. The less known “other” recipe is the Old Grand Dad recipe. All the different bottlings from the Jim Beam recipe vary only in barrel, age, bottling strength, and location. As it goes in the barrel they are all the same. Old Grand Dad is a little different.

The Old Grand Dad brand was purchased by Jim Beam in 1987. Prior to that it was owned by National Distillers Group, their predecessor the American Medicinal Spirits Company, the Wathen family, and all the way back to 1840 when the original owners, the Hayden family, first started commercially distilling. The brand was started by Raymond Hayden and named after his grandfather. The grandfather’s name was Basil Hayden. You may have noticed that I didn’t include Basil Hayden in the roll call of Jim Beam recipe brands above. That’s because it’s the only Small Batch Collection bourbon not made from the the Jim Beam recipe. It’s Old Grand Dad through and through. It’s just aged 8 years and watered down to 80 proof.

I thought it would be fun to focus on this “lesser” side of the Jim Beam bourbon empire. The Old Grand Dad recipe shows up in Old Grand Dad, Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond, Old Grand Dad 114, and of course Basil Hayden. We will be focusing our reviews on these four bourbons for the month of June. I personally find Old Grand Dad’s iterations a little smoother and easier to drink than Jim Beam. I hope you venture out and give them a try.

We’ve also still got some various samples rolling in to the Whisk(e)y Apostle Fortress of Solitude so look for our thoughts on Big Bottom Whiskey and Balblair too. And! We may even see Matt getting back in the saddle this month.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

Evan Williams

Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
43% ABV/86 Proof
$10 to $15
Widely Available

This is interesting because it’s the first time we’ve actually been asked by one of our registered user to review a whiskey. “cwilson” in Atlanta wanted our thoughts on Evan Williams. I know Matt doesn’t have a bottle of this handy so I’m taking a moment during my brief dictatorial reign while he’s on sabbatical to post about EW so here goes…

What the Distillery Says:
Evan Williams, the second largest selling brand of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the U.S., is named for Kentucky’s first distiller of 1783. As the flagship brand of Heaven Hill’s Bourbon portfolio, Evan Williams’ extra aging gives it a richer, smoother Bourbon taste than the competition.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Charred oak, honey, citrus, and the slightest hints of tobacco.
Palate: Very creamy on the mouth. The palate doesn’t stand up to the promise of the nose. There is a light sweetness and mellow oak without many other pronounced flavors except a hint of licorice. It’s easy to drink but there’s not much there to make you want another.
Finish: The finish starts mildly peppery and then settles into a well worn oak. Not offensive but not stunning.
Comments: First let me give props to Heaven Hill for continuing to bottle EW at 86 proof when so many others like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam have gone to 80 proof. Kudos boys! I was surprised how easy EW was to drink. It’s not all that flavorful but it goes down well.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Matt has not had a chance to review this whiskey