Barrel finishing is not a new idea in the Scotch whisky world. On this side of the pond, it used to not be common to see that flavoring technique utilized. In recent years, however, more and more bourbons and rye whiskies are being “barrel finished.” That basically means that after a whiskey has matured in a new oak barrel, it’s transferred to another barrel for a shorter, secondary maturation. Wine casks such as port and sherry are the most common.
Barrel finishing is nothing new for Jim Beam. At the top of their product lineup sits the pricey Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece, an “older Jim Beam finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks, which has received generally positive reviews. Now, the bourbon juggernaut has unveiled another barrel-finished bourbon, this time priced for the general whiskey-buying population: Jim Beam Double Oak.
This new expression starts with four year old Jim Beam bourbon. The whiskey is then transferred to a new, charred oak cask for an unspecified amount of time. This process is meant to impart more oak flavor to the standard Jim Beam flavor profile. Bottled at 86 proof and available for a suggested price of $22, Jim Beam Double Oak sits firmly between the White Label and Black Label.
For the most part, this new expression is exactly what you’d expect. The nose features a ton of vanilla and oak thanks to the secondary maturation in new charred barrels. Some light caramel, cornbread and a familiar nutty note round out the nose. Taste wise, it’s the standard Jim Beam profile of caramel, vanilla, and sweet corn with the added bonus of oak spice. The caramel note featured here is a bit darker… burnt almost. The palate turns slightly dry going into the slightly spicy and sweet finish.
Compared to Jim Beam White Label, Double Oak is much bolder. I think I like it more than Jim Beam Black Label. While the Black Label has slightly more complexity, this new expression excites the palate, making it more fun to drink. For $22, I’ll be keeping a bottle handy at the house. 8/10
Thanks to Jim Beam for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.