Jim Beam black? More like Jim Beam bleck! Ok, ok...all silliness aside, I got this mainly to mix into old fashions and wasn't expecting much. This used to come with an age statement, but now it just reads "extra aged," whatever that means. An extra 2 months? 2 years? Who knows. Lets try it neat and see how we feel.
Nose: Vanilla, caramel, cinnamon. A bit weak but its only 43% so as expected. Vanilla is the dominant player here.
Palate: vanilla, charred oak chips. Very smooth. A bit smokey from the charred oak. Its like you used some oak chips for a bbq then after the bbq you dumped vanilla extract on them.
Finish: Vanilla, a bit of spice, and more charred oak.
Overall: This is much better than I anticipated! I might actually just keep this around to sip on. Its a bit thin and one dimensional, but its decent. It doesnt make me make an awkward face when I drink it like the 40% white label does. I mean its still bottom or mid shelf, but it doesnt suck so therefore it has exceeded my expectations.
I have had some Jim Beam Black Label which was lacking, as yours was, but most batches/bottles I've encountered have been very good. More than once I have given tastings to several new and intermediate whisky-drinkers including Ardbeg Uigeadail, Aberlour A'bunadh, Redbreast 12, Redbreast 12 CS, Booker's, Pappy Van Winkle 15 yo, George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Thomas Handy Rye, etc. and the overall favourite whisk(e)y was Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX, with Jim Beam Black Label being the second favourite, and Bernheim Original Wheat whiskey the third.
So, when I read your review I think, "some more inconsistency with Jim Beam Black Label." Inconsistency is not good, of course. I do understand that your bottle is 100% of your experience of it.
...about the 57% ABV. Sure, it's standardized and it's just not possible for a large batch whiskey to come out at exactly 57% ABV repeatedly. That said, because this is fairly young whiskey I doubt that the actual proof of each undiluted batch is much higher than 57% ABV. This is just a standardization process used to establish the name and identity of this particular product. For all intents and purposes Old Grand-Dad 114 is approximately barrel strength.