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Category Archives: Jim Beam

Review: Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and Jim Beam White Label

The two top selling American Whiskeys are Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and Jim Beam White Label. according to the 2011 Liquor Handbook (via this New York Times article). Jack and Jim sell dramatically more than #3- Evan Williams Black Label, yet I have never taken the time to review them. Today looks like as good a time as any.

Whether you are a Jack or Jim man (or neither!), let’s keep the debates civil shall we.
; ) Cheers!

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, 40% abv (80 Proof), $21/bottle
Color: Light Amber/Deep Gold
Nose: Banana taffy, corn oil, vanilla, toffee, crushed rock, wafts of smoke and char. This is a beautiful and I must say, rather distinctive, nose.
Palate: A tad flabby with caramel, banana, and corn syrupy sweetness livened by the emerging punch of baking spices from mid palate. There’s a thread of char that ties everything together from the front entry on towards the finish. While not all that interesting on the palate, it’s quite textural with an almost velvety thick viscosity.
Finish: The finish is moderate in length with corn and caramel anchoring a nice helping of oak.
Overall: Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is an icon of American Whiskey, and the 4th highest selling spirit on the planet. I’d argue the company’s best decision was finding a guy by the name of Angelo Lucchesi, who got this stuff into the hands of some of Hollywood’s and Entertainment’s hottest stars (like Frank Sinatra) in the 1950′s. That certainly helped to to solidify the brand, and Brown Forman has continued to build on that following. However, I would not classify this as great whiskey. Mind you it’s very good (barely by my scale) stuff and not without it’s virtues – a distinctive nose and a beautiful mouth feel being two that stand out to me. Outside of that, an underwhelming palate undermines the effort, thus keeping it from scoring higher.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.0 (Very Good)

******

Jim Beam White Label, 40% abv (80 Proof), $19/bottle
Color: Lighter – Deeper Golden
Nose: Baked red apple, corn syrup, vanilla nougat, and wet oak. The aromas are soft and sweet, but also flat.
Palate: Not as cloyingly sweet as the nose gave hints to, but once again it’s as flat as pancake. There’s a vanilla, corn, and caramel party with a bit of dried apple adding fruit character. Towards the end of the sip we finally get some moderately warming cinnamon spice for a welcomed shake-up. The wood begins to emerge as well.
Finish: It continues to liven up with some bitterness from the wood adding interest. The caramel and warming spices fade into a rather clean and tidy finish.
Overall: Here’s the thing – this is a Good/Solid entry level whiskey. If you know someone that’s new to whiskey or bourbon and looking to dip their toe in the water – this would be a great introduction. It’s quite pleasant, mildly spiced, and has traditional bourbon flavors. Even though it’s only 4 years old, it doesn’t taste its youthful age. Jim Beam White Label is a nice casual sipper in a pinch or a versatile mixer, but not a whole lot more.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 7.3 (Good/Solid)

Between these two whiskeys, it wasn’t very close. Old No. 7 just has a more distinctive aroma and flavor profile, and as a result is a good bit more interesting to sip.

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon Review

Jim Beam’s Devil’s Cut is the latest release from the Bourbon Behemoth from Clermont, KY. It’s made from pretty interesting process called “barrel sweating”. Once the barrels of whiskey are dumped, they are filled with a proportion of water and agitated (rolled, moved) in the heat to bring out the “trapped” whiskey that’s been slumbering deep in the wood.

While I personally haven’t seen this process in action, I am told that it would surprise anyone just how much liquid is left in the wood itself. Once the process concludes, this woodier juice is reintroduced to 6 year old base Jim Beam. The result is Devil’s Cut.

And what about that name? Well, that’s a clever play on the “Angel’s Share”, which is a term referring to the whiskey that is lost to evaporation during the aging process. The amount lost to the angels can be quite significant over a 4, 8, 12, etc. period of time. The folks at Beam have apparently figured out how to take the Devil’s Cut as well.

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, 45% abv (90 Proof), $24

Color: Lighter Amber (A bit lighter than I would have expected)

Nose: Sweet, candy shop nose of brown sugar, toffee, big vanilla, and ripe banana before oak and wood spices pick up steam. It’s certainly sweeter than the devilish name suggests.

Palate: Pretty straight forward and lacking complexity, but with bold flavor. Caramel sweetness and vanilla dominate the front palate with oak and spices (cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg) emerging firmly from mid palate through finish.

Finish: The finish has it’s own zip code – it’s long and lingers forever. This, for me, is where I think their process for creating this whiskey makes it’s presence felt most. There’s loads of wood, barrel tannin, and spice influence backed with caramel and corn.

Overall: Devil’s Cut starts off innocent and sweetly enough, but quickly the spice and wood emerges. It’s understandable considering the process I noted in the introduction above. It’s not a very complex whiskey, but frankly I found it quite interesting. It’s a spicy bourbon for the folks that make some fairly sweet and mellow juice for the most part. I applaud the effort.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (8.5 Very Good/Excellent)