review

Review: Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut Bourbon

Every blue moon, a value whiskey comes around that’ll have me doing a double take.  This is one of those whiskies.  Jim Beam just released their limited release Distiller’s Cut.  The straight bourbon is aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Let me restate that.  Aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Yep, a double take whiskey.

Distiller’s Cut is five to six years old, which puts it in Jim Beam Black Label territory in terms of age.  Black Label used to be eight years old, but lost its age statement a few years back.  Chill filtering is applied to most whiskies.  It’s done to keep the whiskey clear when adding water or ice.  Skipping the chill filtering allows the whiskey to retain all those fatty acids that help contribute to flavor and mouthfeel.  So, when you add some ice and your whiskey clouds up, it’s completely normal.  Jim Beam didn’t mess around when it came to proof, leaving Distiller’s Cut at a hearty 50% ABV.  This just about guarantees a big, bold flavor.  The surprise is the price.  A bottle will set you back $23, but you’ll most likely find it for less than that. That’s even cheaper than Jim Beam Black Label!

The nose is signature Jim Beam, full of caramel and vanilla with a touch of nuttiness, spice and oak.  Here the aromas are a bit more cohesive than the standard Jim Beam White Label and more robust than the Black Label, thanks to the higher proof.  Taste-wise, we’re talking about hints of caramel chews, grilled corn, charred oak, vanilla bean and a sprinkling of baking spice and herbs.  The finish is medium-long with a sweet and spicy cinnamon cake note.

Wow.  The whole experience for $23 or less?  Is this an answer to the criticism of late concerning some of  Beam Suntory’s high-priced releases like Knob Creek 25th Anniversary or Booker’s Rye?  If so, Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut is a proclamation that great bourbon doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Off the top of my head, the only other options that comes to mind when I think of a big, robust bourbon at around $23 is Elijah Craig Small Batch or Henry McKenna BIB.  And generally those are priced a few bucks higher.  If you know of a better value than Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut, I’m all ears.  Keep in mind this is a limited run, so find a bottle sooner than later. Jim Beam should consider making this a permanent entry in their lineup.  Highly recommended!  8.5/10

Jimbeam.com

Thanks to Jim Beam for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (Batch C917)

The 12-year-old cask-strength powerhouse known as Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is hard to beat. It usually delivers an utterly delicious concentration of classic bourbon aromas and flavors that is almost impossible to pass up at $60 a bottle. The third and last release of 2017, batch C917, is bottled at a respectable 131 proof.

Batch B517 was an outstanding release in what is generally considered a very consistently solid line.

As I previously mentioned, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is the only EC release to carry a 12-year age statement. A couple of years ago, Small Batch’s 12-year age statement was controversially removed.  I’m not an age statement diehard, so the disappearance of that age statement didn’t bug me one bit.  I’m going off on a tangent.  Focus, Bobby.  Focus.

Back to the whiskey at hand.

The nose on Batch C917 features hints of sweet oak, molasses, grilled corn cakes and some spice.  On the palate, big, bold waves of caramels and spice cake almost overwhelm the senses.  Hints of cardamom, vanilla, and dark chocolate pop through mid-palate.  A nice, strong dose of oak, an expected note in the Elijah Craig brand, and leather hit the palate late.  The finish is long and warm, with a bittersweet note reminiscent of caramel-coated dark chocolate lingers.

Heaven Hill has another lively and fantastic bourbon release with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C917.  It does what a great barrel proof whiskey should do – transport you to a Kentucky rickhouse with every sip. I slightly prefer the previous batch B517 over this one.  The differences are minute.  Bad batches of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof simply don’t exist.  Recommended! 8.5/10

elijahcraig.com

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Glenmorangie Astar (2017)

Glenmorangie Astar is back on the market after a few years. It is essentially a high proof version of the beautifully delicate Glenmorangie Original. The distillery uses only ex-bourbon casks from specially selected slow-growth, American oak trees from the Ozarks. They are very picky about wood, if you haven’t noticed.

Where Glenmorangie Original carries a ten year age statement, Astar does not. What this whisky lacks in an age statement it than makes up in a fullness of flavor delivered at 52.5% ABV versus Original’s 43% ABV.

The nose features delicate aromas in a slightly robust way, with hints of vanilla bean, light toffee, coconut macaroons, and a sprinkling of nutmeg. The palate is creamy with hints of whipped vanilla creme. Splashes of mild spices, toasted oak, honey and light fruits soon develop. The finish is clean, but warming, driven by spiced vanilla and lightly roasted coffee bean.

This is everything we love about Glenmorangie Original turned up to 10. The higher proof delivers those flavors in a more concentrated way. It doesn’t come across as young, so those with a penchant for dismissing non age statement whiskies should rethink their stance here. Highly recommended! 8.5/10

Glenmorangie.com

Thanks to Glenmorangie for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.