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


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

Booker’s Bourbon “Noe Secret” Batch 2015-06 Review

Photo courtesy of Booker's.

Photo courtesy of Booker’s.

Batch #2015-06, or “Noe Secret”, is the last batch of Booker’s of 2015.  It’s also the third batch selected by the Booker’s Roundtable, a panel of journalist and spirits writers.  This batch is aged 6 years, 8 months and 7 days, making it one of the younger batches released this year.  It’s bottled at a hearty 128.1 proof.  Remember, Booker’s is uncut and unfiltered.  This is straight from the barrel.

Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe, son of late Booker Noe, explains this batch’s name:

“This batch’s name is a play on words, because Dad kept no secrets — in his life, or in the way he made his bourbon.  He used only the best ingredients available, and made me promise that after he retired, the recipe for Booker’s would never change — and it hasn’t. Booker’s Batch 2015-06 offers fans the robust, full-bodied whiskey profile they’ve come to know and love, just the way Dad liked it.”

The nose is full of vanilla, more so than the last batch of Booker’s I tasted, 2015-04.  It’s also not as grain forward as that batch.  Sweet corn, while still present, is just not as upfront.  Layers of caramel and barrel char build over a fresh red fruit note.  Sweet vanilla and light caramel present themselves upon entry.  Some oak, nuts and corn mash follow.  In a strange way this batch of Booker’s tastes closer to a high proof Jim Beam Black than it does the traditional Booker’s profile.  The finish is long, leaving you with some caramel corn and oak tannin.

Another win for Booker’s.  While not as fiery on entry as other batches, “Noe Secret” has a slight fruit note and it’s a welcome addition.  Pricing is in line with other batches – $59.99 for a 750ml bottle.  I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – Booker’s is the best thing coming out of Jim Beam right now.  Recommended.

(Note: A review sample was provided by Beam Suntory.)