The finish is the highlight, with a well balanced, traditional bourbon profile.
The nose leaves a bit to be desired, and is overall quite muted.
Jim Beam whiskey has been around for a long time. Like a really long time. Legend has it that Jacob Beam sold his first barrel of whiskey under the name “Old Jake Beam Sour Mash” back when the United States of America was still a teenager. And over the course of a couple centuries, no American distiller has built as recognizable of a whiskey brand than the iconic Jim Beam. While the brand has changed ownership a few times and the distillery has changed location (the current Beam distillery in Clermont, KY was built in the mid-1900s), one thing has remained constant since the beginning: whiskey carrying the Beam name has always had a member of the Beam family at the helm of production (7th generation Master Distiller Fred Noe currently leads operations in Clermont).
Here’s the peculiar thing about building an iconic bourbon brand that eventually becomes the best selling bourbon in the world: it has to be affordable and it has to appeal to the masses. Enthusiasts like you and me are generally skeptical of the former, and downright terrified of the latter. We’ve stuck up our noses at the bottom shelf (and best selling bourbon in the world) Jim Beam White for a long time, and while we’ve accepted Beam’s more premium bourbons like Booker’s, Bakers, and Knob Creek as respectable bourbons worthy of our recognition, we’ve subconsciously learned to automatically leave on the shelf any bourbon that has the words “Jim Beam” on the front label in big letters.
So what are we to make of a new “limited release” Jim Beam bourbon called Distiller’s Cut that started appearing on shelves seemingly out of nowhere earlier this year? By all of our common held definitions, it’s a real enigma, as it:
-does indeed say “Jim Beam” on the front label in big letters
-has an age statement (gasp!)
-is bottled at a very respectable 100 proof
-is a “limited release” of specially selected casks, but is not being sold for over $100. In fact it’s not even over $50. Wait, what? No, that can’t be right. It retails for $20.
So what’s the deal here? It’s bourbon with premium-level qualifications, but under a non-premium label and price tag. Let’s find out!
- Distilled, aged, and bottled by Beam-Suntory at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, KY
- Mash bill of 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley
- Aged at least 5 years
- Bottled without chill filtration at 50% ABV (100 proof)
Nose: A little smoky with some ethanol. Toffee, vanilla and peanut brittle follow. Overall, the aroma is definitely on the more subtle side.
Palate: The mouth feel is oily and slightly thin, with a nice warming presence. The flavor is a well-balanced trio of toffee, vanilla, and old leather. While it’s not the most complex of drams, that leather note gives it a mature appearance. You do get some pepper on the tail end.
Finish: More smoke on the finish along with toffee. Leather and tobacco make an appearance, but stay in the background. It is a shorter finish with only a little warmth.
Buying Recommendation: Worth buying a pour. Admittedly, I am a big fan of Beam whiskeys. I love Knob Creek, Bakers and Bookers, and I’ve enjoyed other Beam expressions. So, I had some limited expectations for this pour. It definitely did not live up to my hopes of being a true diamond in the rough, but it is a solid sipper at a nice price that you can enjoy neat. Any bourbon that you can enjoy neat for $20 or less is a win in some regard. Overall, it is a good value, and a great addition to the budget bourbon shelf, just don’t expect anything really special.