26 Sep 2013
Beam is the first name in bourbon, and members of the Beam family have been distilling bourbon since the late 1700′s (not only at Jim Beam, but at many of its competitors). Fred Booker Noe III, a member of the Beam clan, is the master distiller at Jim Beam, which recently added Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year Bourbon to its collection.
In addition to Jim Beam’s standard White Label bourbon (four years), Noe is responsible for Beam Black (eight years) and the small batch collection that includes Knob Creek (nine year), Baker’s (seven year, high proof), Basil Hayden (rye heavy, 80-proof), and Booker’s (barrel strength). But the new Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year Bourbon is the oldest bourbon being released by Beam.
The addition makes sense when you look at the booming demand for older bourbons, as many people consider 10-12 years the sweet spot. To that end, Beam released the new Signature Craft line with a 12 year bourbon, bottled at 86-proof (43% ABV). (A rare Spanish bandy finished variation of the Beam Signature Series is also being released, but I’ve yet to find it in my area.)
Although it’s not the cheapest 12 year bourbon (Elijah Craig and Ezra B 12 Year, among others, come in under $30), at $40 it is considerably less than many similarly aged bourbon whiskeys. The sleek bottle features a plastic screw cap which, although less elegant than a cork, is actually more functional.
The result is a deep amber-colored spirit that features plenty of wood, vanilla, and dried fruit on the nose. Whether from the relatively low proof or something else, it has a softer mouth feel than many of its counterparts with just the right amount of oak, sweetness, and underlying dried fruit, honey, and a signature Beam yeasty flavor. The finish is medium in length with soft wood and a wine-like fruit component.
It’s balanced and flavorful, and overall an enjoyable, but not overwhelming, experience. It goes great with a wide variety of cigars.
I particularly enjoyed the Illusione Singulare LE Phantom 2010 with the Beam Signature Series 12 year, but then it’s one of my favorite cigars so perhaps that’s because the best cigars always go well with a good spirit. Other recommend pairings include such medium- or full-bodied smokes as the Aging Room Quattro, Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 2, and the Padrón Serie 1926 No. 6.
Some people will dismiss Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year Bourbon because it’s released under the Jim Beam name and made by the largest bourbon producer. In my opinion that would be a mistake. This is a good bourbon at a reasonable price, and it’s definitely worth trying if your a bourbon drinker.
photo credit: Stogie Guys