I stopped by one of my favorite honey holes lately. While I was looking for a new release to add to my collection, it was a dusty row of Jim Beam bottles that drew my attention. As I walked the aisles, this great-looking “Limited Release” bottle caught my eye.
The Quarter Cask Finished version of JB’s Signature Craft dates to their 3rd release indicates that the Signature Craft line is a series of innovative whiskeys designed to showcase some of the finest hand-crafted expressions. This 2014 edition is finished with bourbon aged in quarter-sized casks for 4-5 years. “The addition of bourbon from smaller, newly charred oak barrels heightens the deep caramel and vanilla flavors and adds a hint of smoke.”
Typically, bourbon is aged in 53-gallon barrels. This rendition utilizes the addition of bourbon aged in barrels 1/4th the size of a traditional barrel. If you’re expecting overbearing oak and woody notes, you’ll be disappointed. This one is smooth and gentle, but I am wondering how it will stand up to some recent additions to the Jim Beam lineup, including Jim Beam Repeal Batch and Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut.
Originally, this Signature Craft rendition was priced at $40. I was able to source this particular [dusty] bottle for a cool $29. It is bottled at 43% ABV (86 proof) – nicely balanced for those not desiring a hot bourbon.
The mash bill is the traditional corn-forward Jim Beam white label, with 77% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted barley.
Eye: Deep honey copper with thin legs draining down the sides of the glass.
Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and maple. A lovely, solid bourbon nose. Some lighter fruit notes – like an apple tart are present, as well.
Palate: A solid caramel-forward flavor remains throughout, along with some fruits and apple-pie spices. It’s a lighter mouthfeel and not as creamy as the Jim Beam Repeal Batch and Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut.
Finish: Short-to-medium. Almost shorter than traditional Jim Beam White Label. Smooth, balanced, and spice with some maple and honey at the end. It almost left me wanting just a smidge more. I didn’t catch any of the smoke mentioned on the label.
Overall: This was a nice expression. Was it a good value? That’s a tougher question. At the original $40, while a beautiful bottle and label, I felt the Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut had a little more character.
At the $30 price point, though – I’d say it was pretty solid. If you want to introduce friends and family to a bourbon served neat, this one will be welcoming to all. If you can catch the Distiller’s Cut at around $20, that IS definitely a bargain. Overall, though, for a bourbon that has tons of caramel, honey and maple notes, this is a beautiful expression. I lift my glass to Fred Noe – well done!