We like a nicely mixed Manhattan at Casa Demoncase, and to do justice to a real Prohibition era Manhattan like we enjoyed in the Waldorf on our 10th wedding anniversary Rye is needed. Choices on this side of the pond are scant- Bulleit Rye turns up on occasion but this Jim Beam had slipped under my radar until recently.
Took a nip, neat, in my balloon glass to see if this was money well spent.
Colour- Appears darker that I imagine a rye to be- especially next the yellow label (thoughtful marketing perhaps- similar to how drinks packed in red cans taste 'warmer' too us?). In the glass- a deeper honey brown.
Nose- A lot of alcohol astringency and very, very sweet. Piles dried hay, pale fresh-cut wood in the sawmill (or shed if you prefer). Sunshiney- if that's a word- but the dry sunshine of an autumn day. Some sourness toward the very end.
After about 10-15 minutes in the glass it warmed up and I was starting to get a deep, sweet, vanilla from my tableside. A real pleasant perfume- not room filling, but it was beckoning me back to the glass for sure!
Flavour- Amazingly sweet- almost sugary, light, initial alcohol burn numbs a bit. Very dry and woody. (Mrs Demoncase loves Pendyryn Peated and remarked on some similarities here) I want to say 'popcorn' in there too. Lots of light woods- cigarbox-y/cut wood at the back of the tongue. Maybe a hint of wicker (if you've ever handled a 1970s wicker drinks coaster, you know what I'm talking about!)
Not detecting the vanilla as a stand-out 'spike' of flavour (like I might with a bourbon) but it's more the background that the woody/popcorny bite floats about on. Sourness from the nose comes through as you swallow with maybe some pine?
This doesn't have the range of flavours or layers that my usual bourbon choices do have. The finish is- in keeping with how light the whole thing is- super short. Light to the point of thinness in the mouth, and I expected an oilyness from the colour which never transpires.
Not mixed this puppy up yet- but I can see the dryness making a fearsome good Manhattan.
For the price at £20, it's fit for purpose and an interesting tipple in it's own right. I prefer the Bulliet Rye for it's deeper flavour and greater grassiness, but I can pretty much get 2 JB Rye for the price of one Bulliet- and when I'm mixing, that seems a shame.
Update: Mixed a couple of Manhattans with this tonight (properly shaken too I might add!) and as predicted it produces a richer, darker and drier flavour profile than when made with a Bourbon.....Very easy to drink.