Jim Beam. The giant, the legend and Beam-Suntory's American Whiskey machine.
Jim Beam. The rest of Beam-Suntory’s American Whiskey empire is produced here. You have such brands as Bakers, Bookers, Knob Creek and of course Jim Beam just to name a few. I will list them out later on. The history of Jim Beam is similar to others in the area. Around the time of prohibition they were closed down, but came back strong. It was when the son of Jim Beam, T. Jeremiah Beam really became the global brand ambassador for the bourbon in the 1930’s and 40’s. This sounds like a job title you have heard in the industry many times before, but during his time people weren’t pushing product like this. He was able to get the name and brand of Jim Beam American Bourbon into 110 countries. I guess we can say this proves it is sometimes important to get to market first. He also was a force behind the second distillery being opened in Boston, Kentucky. I only visited and I believe you are only allowed, to the distillery in Clermont, KY so most of my facts will be based off of that site.
The mash bill for classic Jim Beam is a mix of corn, rye and malted barley. They have two grain cookers to make their mash. The mash is then moved to one of the 12 fermenters that each hold about 45,000 gallons of liquid each. They do use a set-back, or sour mash for the start of their fermentation. Fermentation will last about three days and all of their washbacks are stainless steel. There is only one column still and doubler on this site, but at the Boston location they have two pairs of columns and doublers. This gives you an idea into their capacity. Shifts are currently running 24/7 and as you can imagine mostly everything is automated now. It only takes about 2-3 people to run the whole process through distillation.
Cask filling and bottling are done on site. At the moment they have 73 warehouses between 3 locations. In Kentucky right now there are 1.7 million barrels of Jim Beam Bourbon aging. They don’t rotate within their rickhouses, they just blend certain casks from the top, bottom and middle for consistency. I did hear them say that there is never any cross over or sharing really between Jim Beam facilities and Maker’s Mark, although sometimes Jim Beam will take on some of Maker’s Mark bottling overflow. Their mass bottling line can fill and complete 300 bottles per minute.
A few quick notes about their most infamous and popular brands and then I will list out the best way I can how all of their brands are categorized. There are a lot, so it can get a bit confusing. I have heard of a lot of these brands, but some of them I never realized were made by Beam! Maybe you will have the same experience. The Old Tub Whiskey is apparently only sold at the distillery and a few local places in Clermont. Old Tub was the original name of the bourbon before it was changed to Jim Beam. Jim Beam Double Oak you should see out now and that is their newest release. Finally, as you all probably know, the Jim Beam White Label is their best-selling bourbon globally. Here is the core range, minus special releases etc…
Jim Beam—White Label, Black Extra-Aged, Devil’s Cut, Double Oak, Bonded, Rye and Single Barrel
Knob Creek—Single Barrel, 100 Proof Bourbon, Rye,
Small Batch—Bookers Rye, Bookers Bourbon, Bakers and Basil Hayden
Then they have about 6 bottles of flavored whiskeys, but as you probably assumed I will not be drinking or reviewing those! Here is what I tasted… PS I bought into the hype on this one and left with a bottle of Booker’s Bourbon. It was a batch from earlier this year. The press release had just broke that Beam-Suntory is raising the price of Booker’s Bourbon from a suggested retail price of about 60USD to 100USD. Stock up. It’s strong stuff, but it’s good.
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Fruity, ice cream, some oak. Palate: Dried fruits, spice, leather couch and cinnamon finish.
Not bad and I think this one is kind of forgotten about..
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Peanuts, toffee, kettle corn and something burnt.
Palate: Quick burn! Charred oak, caramel, smoke and tobacco.
This is a kicker!
Jim Beam Double Oak
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Ripe fruit, pear, fresh oak and herbal notes.
Palate: Tangerines, butterscotch and I swear I could taste the rocks from the limestone water they use..
Overall, not a bad place. They have a lot of brands so it can get confusing quickly, but they are number one for a reason.