Decent if a trifle simple. Available almost anywhere and a reliable choice.
Notes: The Jim Beam line has never gotten a lot of respect from whiskey snobs which is a pity, it is a decent, drinkable whiskey if not a great one. In an effort to polish their image and standing Jim Beam has just released a Single Barrel Edition and recently also released their Signature Craft Series the Spanish Brandy and 12 Year Old Bourbon, We have reviewed a number of their other more recent products in the past but decided to review a couple of their old standards for the sake of comparison. The following is s review of their Black Label Whiskey , a review of another old standard ( but young whiskey) of theirs, the Jim Beam White Label can be found here.
Appearance: Gold light amber colored in the glass., more red in the bottlen swirling it leaves a repeatable oily coat to the glass with a distinctive edge line with legs slowly forming over time.
First Impression: Fair amount of vanilla and wood char,caramel,apples, mint,touch of cocoa,dried fruit oak vanillins develop after a bit.Good corn,rye sweet/sour and touches of barley round out a decent if slightly simple bouquet of bourbon goodness
Taste: Corn and grain on entry, with dried fruits,mint, oatmeal,vanilla and oak char,apples and apricots,touch of cinnamon.Dries up a bit with barrel char dryness and slight spiciness at the end. Medium weight body, smooth if a bit light.
Drinks: Works well in Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and just about all the classic bourbon cocktails out there. Enough backbone, flavor and sweetness to stand up to almost any mixer.
Bottle: Recently updated (at least recently to me) with a lot more of the clear glass showing and a more angular look to the bottle and a very updated label with more stylish script. I kind of miss the old look but this does make it look a bit more like the newer micros, upscale whiskies and some Scotches. Smaller black capsule with screw top and the moniker double aged give it a edgier,newer feel also.
Other: I find the “Double Aged” statement a bit disingenuous – It seems to hark to the double wood or double aging in terms of different barreling – not just the fact that they left it only for double the time they do the White Label 4 year old bourbon.
Final Thoughts: The value ration on this whiskey is very price dependent as it can be, and often is, heavily discounted. If it is selling for it’s normal retail price of $20 plus there are a lot of other, frankly better whiskies clustered around that point. If it is below $20 it delivers a lot of good whiskey flavor and good distillation that may save you a lot of suffering the next morning over a bargain brand.