I saw a display of this at my neighborhood grocery store and it immediately caught my eye. At $18 and a limited edition, I didn’t have much to lose, right? Hitting shelves during the Fall of 2018, this arrived just in time to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal (December 5).
I wondered how it compared to some of my other favorites from the Jim Beam label, including Bonded (bottled-in-bond) and Jim Beam Black Extra Aged.
The label highlights non-chill filtered and that’s not a process I see often. Many distillers utilize a charcoal filtering process after dumping and batching barrels to remove bits of char. In addition, many distillers utilize chill filtration, whereby the finished product is chilled to 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the various fatty oils and esters are removed.
Why remove these substances? Well, as ice is added to a non-chill filtered product – such as by drinking “on the rocks” – the bourbon can become cloudy in the glass – something a consumer may find unappealing. However, when these oils and fatty acids are removed, some experts say that the mouthfeel and flavors change and you may have an inferior product in your glass.
Do all bourbons have to be chill-filtered? Well, no. These naturally occurring acids, esters and proteins only come together in bourbons at 86 proof or lower; bourbons with a higher proof don’t form these clumps when chilled.
Bottled at 86 proof, the label does not provide a statement of age, but is assumed to be at least 4 years old. The mash bill is classic Jim Beam, with 77% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted barley.
Swirled in a glass, you’ll see the light-copper and straw-like color of a younger Beam product. On the nose, it is classic Jim Beam, with plenty of corn and oak. On the tongue, it definitely has a slightly oilier mouthfeel – a little more slippery and silky than Jim Beam Black Label and the Bonded product.
On the tongue, there’s more corn, vanilla, and a little bit of cinnamon spice – notes I would expect from Jim Beam. The finish is medium and balanced with a hint of spice and after a minute or two, a light splash of mint.
As for comparing to Jim Beam Black Label as well as their Bonded product – it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Jim Beam Black definitely has a slightly darker color and has a bit more complexity, though not the same mouthfeel as this product. I’ve enjoyed Jim Beam Bonded – a 100 proof product – as it holds up well to an ice ball or a cocktail, and at a higher proof, carries more of the Jim Beam classic notes.
At $18 and with a similar price point to Black Label Extra Aged and Bonded, it’s hard to go wrong with this upsell to the more widely-sold Jim Beam White Label. If you’re wanting to experience what a pre- and early post-prohibition bourbon might have tasted like, this is one to check-out. If you’re looking for something wildly deviating from the Jim Beam profile, you’ll be disappointed. This, or the Extra-Aged or Bonded labels can have a spot in my cabinet any day.