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Cigar Spirits: Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask Finished Bourbon

6 Jan 2015

Small barrels can be a bit controversial when it comes to American whiskey. Some say small barrels are the key to making young whiskey taste like old whiskey, while others say it just makes lousy whiskey.

Beam-SC-Quarter-Cask-FinishedMy feeling on the matter is a little more nuanced. Small barrels don’t necessarily make lousy bourbon, just a different style. But small barrels certainly aren’t a substitute for extended traditional barrel aging. With that in mind, I was looking forward to trying this new 86-proof release from Jim Beam. (I wrote about the regular offering to the Signature Craft series, the 12 Year Bourbon, here.)

Although Beam’s new limited release Quarter Cask Finished Bourbon ($40) has finished in the name, it isn’t used the way you’d come to expect, like the way Angel’s Envy is bourbon finished with a period of aging in port barrels. Rather, Beam’s Quarter Cask is a blend of traditional barrel bourbon and bourbon aged in smaller barrels.

Here’s how Beam explains it in a press release: “[It] starts with premium Jim Beam Bourbon aged at least five years and is finished with a variety of fine quarter cask bourbons, and all aged at least four years in smaller barrels. By building on a base of mature liquid and finishing it with quarter cask aged liquid, the inspired distillers at Jim Beam were able to craft just the right balance of rich vanillas of a mature bourbon profile and the extra oak notes of the quarter cask bourbon.”

The deep gold bourbon features a nose with vanilla and candied orange. On the palate it has that classic Beam yeasty funk, vanilla, and sweet corn, but with the added depth of roasted nuts, oats, woodiness.

There’s a lot a vanilla sweetness here (no surprise since it’s a defining characteristic of Beam bourbons from standard White Label to Booker’s 25th Anniversary), but it also is nicely balanced between sweetness, grain, and dry wood. The finish is surprisingly long with a woodiness that lingers on the roof of your mouth.

The profile pairs well with a medium-bodied cigar with a little woodiness. I found that the E.P. Carrillo 5th Anniversary Limitada is an excellent accompaniment.

While Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask Finished Bourbon won’t blow you away, it’s a nice bourbon and an excellent reminder that Beam is about a lot more than its ubiquitous White Label rail bourbon. This expression is plenty drinkable neat and does nothing to deter me from wanting to try future Signature Craft offerings.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Cigar Spirits: Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask Finished Bourbon | Bourbon PR - Friday, January 9, 2015

    […] Small barrels can be a bit controversial when it comes to American whiskey. Some say small barrels are the key to making young whiskey taste like old whiskey, while others say it just makes lousy whiskey. Small barrels don’t necessarily make lousy bourbon, just a different style. But small barrels certainly aren’t a substitute for extended traditional barrel aging. Full story […]

  2. Cigar Spirits: Hudson Maple Cask Rye Whiskey | The Stogie Guys - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    […] written before about aging whiskey in small barrels and the theories behind it: some say it’s a shortcut to […]