Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Review: Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year

Jim Beam Signature Craft is a 12 year old small batch bourbon that was released in 2013. I’m really over the terms “craft” and “artisan” to describe whiskey or anything else, but I digress. One thing I like from the start is the screw cap. Folks, there’s little wrong with a screw cap. A cork coated in a 1/4 inch of wax (with an ill designed pull tab) is overrated. I do enjoy being able to open the bottle easily.

Let’s get to it……

Beam Signature CraftJim Beam Signature Craft Small Batch Bourbon (12 Years), 43% abv (86 Proof), $40
Color: Medium Amber/Copper
Nose: Toffee, vanilla, cherry liqueur, cinnamon, and rich oak.
Palate: Right on point with the nose – caramel, spiced honey, cherry syrup and cinnamon spice. Nice backbone of oak throughout the sip.
Finish: Toasted almond, dried fruits, vanilla, and toasted oak.
Overall: Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 year is really well done. It’s harmonious, balanced and quite elegant (easy drinking too!). My one knock is the fact that it could be a bit under-proofed. However, considering Knob Creek Small Batch is in the lineage (and its a bit too oak driven to me), perhaps they got the proof just right with Signature Craft 12 year. It’s a beautiful whiskey.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (8.9 Superb)


  1. Excellent review, many thanks. This is one that I wouldn’t normally try but something tells me it would do great in a blind tasting, with “Jim Beam” unknown to the drinkers.

  2. On your palate, does Signature seem like a “triple aged” extension of JB White the way Black is “double aged” or is it a distinct bourbon more properly placed in the Small Batch Collection?

  3. Based on a recommendation from a local liquor store, I tried the Jim Beam Signature. I thought that it was fairly undistinguished, even leaning towards mediocre. In particular, the rye was tamed and relegated to the background. Maybe, as you suggested, if the proof was higher, there would be a bit more bite to it. This one seems to fall short of the type of quality that you get with other Jim Beam product’s, notably Bookers, in my view.

  4. Glad to see you review this. I really like the 12 year, and while Sazerac is going away from age statements and trying to fool people (VOB 6…etc) Beam added a bourbon with an age statement.

    My current favorite bourbon is Jim Beam Single Barrel. Hopefully you will have time to review that one as well, Jason.

  5. Dave from Michigan

    August 13, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    I tasted this for the first time while visiting the distillery this spring. I think your review is spot on. I would have liked to have seen this more in the 90-100 proof range, but thought it was a very good whiskey. Texas, the other bourbon I tasted there was the Single Barrel and I actually preferred the Signature Craft. But therein lies one of the beauties of bourbon. Thanks Jason and good to hear from you.

  6. Yep, that is the good thing about bourbon for sure. I think if the 12 year as bottle at the same proof as the Single Barrel (95) I am sure I would like it better.

  7. If you think that top is ill-designed and hard to open, you should try opening a bottle of Johnny Drum. It took me three bottles to figure out the trick.

  8. Two in a row, and spot on…well done! Hey Josh, we’re waiting to hear from you!

  9. Perhaps he went over to bug Tim.

  10. Hahahahahaha!

  11. Tried this at the distillery and thought I’d try a bottle. Can’t add anything other than it looks like you pretty much nailed this one. Oh my, I just noticed three girls and a wife! Bet there’s times when you think God for the whiskey!

  12. Jason, grabbed a bottle today in Texas. LOL, it has a pull cork. Marketing guys couldn’t resist, I guess.

  13. I am really enjoying the themedesign of your blog. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems? A handful of my blog readers have complained about my website not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any advice to help fix this issue? bdeegaceebbb

  14. Picked up a bottle today, in Texas; a pull cork indeed. After tasting it, i am immediately reminded of the type of oak in Rowan’s Creek/Noah’s Mill that i am certainly not a fan of. Nonetheless, a good education in what Beam grows up to look like. Thanks for the review!

  15. @sam k – unfortunately, Tim may have packed it in. ;(

  16. Jason, trolls and taggers are killing your column. You are on the verge of squandering all of the hard work that you have put into it by letting it grow cobwebs from inattention. Have you ever considered enlisting the help of some other whiskey enthusiasts to help you keep up with it and keep the trolls and taggers at bay?

  17. Ray O, this is Jason’s blog alone. He can do with it what he pleases, including (or not) your inappropriate suggestion.

    Why bother with suggesting other bloggers join in to assist when they’d only dilute what Jason has thus far accomplished? Do you have nothing else to occupy your time? If you did, you’d be hanging around where somebody cared about what you had to say. The rest of us are patient enough to wait for the next post without making inappropriate responses about something we have no control over.

    You are the troll. Go away

  18. Really…I’d make up a name like this? I’m the copy editor for Whisky Advocate magazine and you are the troll, and a rude one at that.

  19. Thank you Sam – moved his comment off the thread. Appreciate the support as always!

  20. Understood. I didn’t think my original comments warranted Sam’s aggressive response and that’s why I responded the way I did. What I’ll do is back off and just not read this blog anymore. Best wishes.

  21. Sam, just to be clear, my original post to which you responded was referring to two other posts that Jason actually removed.

  22. Ray O, in looking back at my initial comment, you are right. I was overbearing in my initial response, and I apologize. I had been reacting to some strong comments recently on the “death of” Jason’s blog that portrayed him in a lesser light, and I took some of it out on you.

    Thanks for your perspective and interest.

  23. cant we all just get along?? 🙂

  24. JP, picked up a bottle of Jim Beam Signature last night and gave it a try. As always, your review was spot on. It is a pleasent drink, either neat or on the rocks, and much better than regular Jim Beam. Was also happy to see that my local store finally has some stock from the Buffalo Trace distillery.

    Patiently waiting for your next review.

  25. Three in the queue Martin. Stay tuned!

  26. I agree that there’s little wrong with a screw cap. However, that little wrongness – the lack of a moist “ploop” sound on removing a cork – deprives one of a delicious bit of sensory pleasure at a key moment.

  27. Just curious, why is this whiskey not labeled as a straight bourbon?

  28. I just cant seem to bring myself to try the Signature series based off the price and proof. There are so many other great bottles out there for less that the Signature: Four Roses, Jefferson…and many others. If the price where to be come down in order to be competitive with the established greats, I’d give it a try.

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