I happen to have three bourbons on hand, all bottled in bond, begging to be reviewed. I can't remember if I've written about a bottled-in-bond bourbon before, so forgive me if I'm repeating what that means: a) all the juice comes from one distillery; b) all the juice was distilled within one distilling season; c) the bourbon is at least four years old; and d) it is bottled at 50% ABV (maybe there are more rules, if so let me know which ones I missed). So that's the bondage gear that bottled-in-bond bourbons are restrained by.
Our first one is Jim Beam Bonded, which is quite widely available and at a more than reasonable price for a 50% ABV bourbon. The label advertises it as a "pre-prohibition style of bourbon" and that it is a "perfect mixer in any classic American cocktail" (it was rather tasty in both a Vieux Carre and a Manhattan, I must admit).
The colour is a light maple. On the nose we get charcoal, charred oak, Twizzlers, burnt matchstick and lots of butterscotch. Underneath the butterscotch is heavily buttered popcorn, with peppery spice as the backbone. Baked apple and cinnamon, and some mint wafting through. There's a lightness to this as well with some balsamic and fennel riding a bit higher than the heavier corn / caramel notes. Water does little for the nose or palate, unfortunately. Lots of complexity and balance - the oaky straps are not too tightly bound on this one!
Surprisingly thin on the palate, but with a heavy charred oak character; also more mint, caramel and some cayenne heat. More vanilla on the palate than I got on the nose. Light brown sugar - but a lot of it, it is rather sweet. Tasty but becomes a bit cloying.
The finish is mostly corn, with the oak taking a back seat (a voyeur, if you will) with some bovril and leather eventually pulling up a chair. This is a decent, straightforward bourbon, with all the right notes but it doesn't quite go the extra mile for me. Definitely a step up from the standard Jim Beam White Label though.