One of America’s oldest brands of bourbon is Jim Beam. The original company founded in 1795, Old Tub, had bottled their bourbon as “Old Jake Beam.” The company was renamed in 1935 after Jim Beam had rescued the company from the ravages of prohibition in the United States.
To this day their flagship bourbon is distilled with the same recipe from their original formative years, with very little modernizations put into the production process. In fact, the yeast that is used today is the same strain of yeast that Jim Beam himself had begun using in 1933 once the distillery had reopened post-prohibition. The current master distiller Fred Noe (great-grandson to Jim Beam) even keeps a jar of this very yeast in his fridge for safekeeping, just in case of an emergency.
Jim Beam Products’ Cost
Jim Beam’s main brand of bourbon (sometimes referred to as ‘White Label’) is surprisingly affordable considering its worldwide popularity and quality. A 1-liter bottle should only set you back about $20 in a liquor store (if that) and a shot or mixed drink from a local bar around $4-$8, location dependent. You shouldn’t be surprised to see it being used as the well whiskey (aka house whiskey) at fancier restaurants or more expensive venues, being that large case orders typically carry heavy discounts.
Below are the latest Jim Beam prices
|Jim Beam Red Stag||750ml||From $19|
|Jim Beam Kentucky Straight||750ml||From $18|
|Jim Beam Vanilla||750ml||From $17|
|Jim Beam Peach||750ml||From $17|
|Jim Beam Maple||750ml||From $17|
|Jim Beam Honey||750ml||From $17|
|Jim Beam Bonded||750ml||From $23|
|Jim Beam Black||750ml||From $22|
|Jim Beam Single Barrel||750ml||From $33|
|Jim Beam Devil’s Cut||750ml||From $22|
|Jim Beam Double Oak||750ml||From $22|
|Jim Beam Rye||750ml||From $22|
Jim Beam Brand Varients
Jim Beam has way more than just the white label on shelves. They have made many ventures into the different corners of the whiskey production world, including using different formulas, higher proof whiskies, flavored whiskeys, and small-batch whiskey. The distillery is actually attributed to beginning the current trend and rise in popularity of small-batch boutique bourbons and whiskies when they began bottling and releasing the brand Booker’s Bourbon in 1987.
Jim Beam offers their standard bourbon in a variety of flavors, having started with “Red Stag” as their Black Cherry offering. They also have a Cinnamon flavor called “Kentucky Fire”, while the rest don’t have any clever monikers. Apple, which tastes more towards candied apple (great for around Halloween), Honey, Peach, Vanilla, and Maple are all currently available. And as the recent history of the brand indicates they will most likely continue to come out with new flavors and maybe they’ll discontinue less popular ones. So if you find one you like, make sure you tell them about it! Through social media, phone lines, or letters, usually, a company’s first line of market research is straight from the consumer.
All of the flavors are on the much sweeter side, and definitely do not drink like traditional whiskey. Although they certainly can be enjoyed straight up, or on the rocks, they are best suited for chilled shots (try keeping your bottle in the freezer) or mixed with seltzer and/or other sodas and juices. Try the Vanilla with your favorite cola for a 50’s “Vanilla Coke”, or the Peach with cranberry and pineapple juice for a new twist on a “Sex on the Beach.”
The Finer Side Of Jim Beam
Jim Beam by name is also on 6 other bottles, that will run you a few extra bucks than their flagship White Label Bourbon, but after your first sip, you’ll see where your money went. Jim Beam Black, Devil’s Cut, Double Oak, Single Barrel, Bonded, and Pre-Prohibition Style Rye are all currently available and range from about $23 for a 750ml bottle of the Double Oak and Devil’s Cut, and up to about $40 for a 750ml bottle of the Single Barrel. All of these varieties are best enjoyed straight-up or on the rocks, to truly taste their unique flavors, and are great to be used for making boozier cocktails.
Jim Beam Black is simply aged twice as long as their regular bourbon. So from 4 years to now 8 years, the bourbon has a more concentrated flavor and thus a slightly higher alcohol content (43% ABV). Expected it to have some notes of vanilla and a lot of oak wood in both the flavor and aroma.
Devil’s Cut is a term used in the world of booze to describe the liquid that is absorbed by the wood of the barrels during the aging process. Jim Beam extracts the whiskey from the barrels’ wood and then blends it with their standard Bourbon to get a higher proof (45% ABV) and slightly sweeter and more charred tasting bourbon.
The Double Oak is appropriately named, the process here being that they age the bourbon twice in two different, newly charred American White Oak Barrels. The first aging is their traditional 4-year process, while the second is aged “to flavor” as determined by their current master distiller. This will leave the bourbon with a noticeable flavor of oak, char, and grain.
To be “Bottled in Bond” was a pre-prohibition term that meant the whiskey was aged in a warehouse under a lock and key held by the federal government. This was passed into law as a regulatory act and guarantees that the whiskey was made by one distiller, with one batch of ingredients, aged for four years, and is 100 proof (50% ABV). Jim Beam Bonded is made in that same style and boasts a spiciness unlike the white label Jim Beam, with heavy grain flavors.
The Pre-Prohibition Rye is similarly made as the bonded whiskey, but in the process of making the “mash” at the beginning stages of distilling, they use a higher ratio of rye grain to corn and malted barley. That’s what makes the difference between a Bourbon and a Rye whiskey, Bourbon’s are usually at least 51% corn mash, while Rye is at least 51% rye. This Rye is spicy and well rounded and also bottled at 50% abv. Both this and the Bonded Whiskies are fantastic for traditional whiskey cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Boulevardier.
And finally the Single Barrel, claimed by Jim Beam to happen only around 1% of the time, the barrel aging process yields a “perfect” batch of whiskey in just one barrel. Ordinarily, the same type of whiskey will be blended together from multiple barrels to get the desired flavor profiles and to maintain consistency across the different batches. For this reason, each batch of Jim Beam Single Barrel will be mildly unique in its own way, however, all will be well rounded, have a mild spiciness with notes of vanilla and oak, with no flavors being too overpowering; it is bottled at 95 proof (47.5%ABV.) While many many distilleries offer a single barrel, Jim Beam’s is one of the most affordable and despite that is still as high quality as to be expected. It’s a great introductory “boutique whiskey” at around $40 for a 750ml bottle or maybe 12 to 14 bucks at the bar.
Jim Beam Alternatives
The only other sour mash whiskey that could be said to be more popular or well known than Jim Beam is Jack Daniels. But there is a significant price difference on the shelf. With Jack Daniels ringing in at closer to the $35 mark for a liter, the extra money spent is probably best spent on the 1 or 2 dollar difference at the bar for a pour of each back to back to see which you prefer and to see if that extra $15 on the whole bottle is really worth it to you.
If you want to spend a little more money to get a finer product, you can stay within the Beam/Suntory brand by trying out Knob Creek, Booker’s, or Basil Haydens. Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s both have a Rye and Bourbon, Knob Creek also has single barrel versions, cask strength, and flavored variations. Booker’s would be the finest offering, bottled at cask strength (meaning the whiskey hasn’t been diluted with water to control the alcohol content) ranging from 60.5-65.3% ABV depending on the batch.
Cocktails With Jim Beam
- Mint Julep
- 8-12 Mint Leaves
- ¾ oz Simple Syrup
- 2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
In a julep goblet, or similar food-safe metal drinking vessel:
Tear the mint leaves and drop into the bottom of the tin, add the simple syrup and muddle the mint leaves for a few seconds until fragrant. Fill to the brim with finely crushed ice (you can fill a plastic bag with ice and use your muddler to break the ice if you don’t have fine enough ice from your freezer door or no crushed ice at all.) Pour the whiskey through the ice and use a straw to drink through the ice. Add a fresh sprig of mint to the top for garnish. Think of it like a minty alcoholic snow cone!
- Basil Highball
- 5-8 Basil Leaves
- 1 ½ oz Bourbon
- ¾ oz Simple Syrup
- ¾ oz Lemon Juice
- Splash of seltzer
In a mixing tin:
Tear the basil leaves and drop to the bottom of the tin. Muddle with a dash of the simple syrup until fragrant. Add the rest of the simple syrup, lemon juice, and bourbon with ice to the tin and shake. Strain the cocktail with a cocktail strainer and also through a small basket strainer to catch all of the broken basil leaves. Strain over fresh ice into a glass and top with a splash of seltzer and a fresh basil leaf for garnish