Whisky Connosr
Menu
Shop Join

Jim Beam White Label

Solstice Annual Review, Jim Beam White Label

5 3577

@VictorReview by @Victor

21st Jun 2018

0

  • Nose
    ~
  • Taste
    ~
  • Finish
    ~
  • Balance
    ~
  • Overall
    77

Show rating data charts

Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

For my 459th Connosr review, and nearly exactly 1 year from the date of my last review, I shall review, for the very first time, Jim Beam White Label. Why Beam White Label 7 1/2 years and 458 reviews later, you ask? Well, looks like I have never bothered to review Jim Beam White Label before, and a whole helluva lot of this stuff is made and drunk, worldwide. Beam White is the No. 2 best-selling whisk(e)y in the US, behind Jack Daniel's Old No. 7. As straight bourbon whiskey with no age statement Jim Beam White Label is assumed to be 4 years old. The reviewed bottle is newly opened. It was a gift from a friend

Nose: somewhat subdued at first, but grows to moderate in intensity; tannic wood, caramel, and muffled vanilla; a little wood spice and slightly sweet. This is certainly pleasant enough, but it is no great shakes and possesses no elements of sublime beauty. The score would be higher if this batch were not overly tannic. Water added improved the nose greatly, harmonising the flavours and smoothing out the rough tannic edge. Score: 18/25 neat; 21/25 with water

Taste: very caramel-y; sweeter in the mouth than on the nose; the tannins and char add some bitterness in the mouth which seems out of place. Otherwise the nose translates rather well to the delivery. Water added mostly just dilutes the flavour in the mouth with only slight improvement. Score: 19/25 neat; 20/25 with water

Finish: medium length, dying on tannic wood which is not so delicious. Water added greatly tamed the nasty finish. Score: 16/25 neat; 20/25 with water

Balance: good balance in the nose, only fair thereafter. Score: 17/25 neat; 20/25 with water added

Total Sequential Score: 70 points neat; 81 points with water added

Strength: moderate strength throughout. Score: 22.5/25

Quality: adequate to good grain flavours; so-so quality of flavours from the wood. Much better with water added. Score: 18/25

Variety: adequate variety only. Score: 17/25

Harmony: too much tannin mars the prospect of good harmony. Once again, much better with water added. Score: 16/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 73.5 points (all scores here neat)

Comment: well, I've drunk samples of Jim Beam White Label over the years from various bottles, most not owned by me. Jim Beam White Label is what is left over after the high-quality barrels for the Beam premium and super-premium products have been sequestered for more exclusive releases. Beam White probably represents 60+% of the total output of Beam standard moderate rye mashbill bourbon. A review needs to primarily address the whiskey sample at hand. Like all big mass-release brands Jim Beam White Label has a significant range of variation in the tastes and qualities of each batch. This currently reviewed bottle of Beam White Label is probably from one of the lesser batches from which I have sampled. At its best a batch of Jim Beam White Label may be an 85 point whiskey; at its worst, it could rate below 70 points. 40% ABV whiskey from the large American distillers should be considered designed primarily for mixing and cocktails. American distillers have de facto agreed to 43-47% as their estimate for the ideal mass-market distribution ABV for "sipping whiskeys". If they bottle it at 40% ABV they probably do not think that it is for sipping

I was shocked at how much adding water improved this 40% ABV whiskey. I wasn't going to try it with water because it is already only 40% ABV, but that would have been a big mistake. I tried it with water added only out of a sense of completeness. I am very glad that I did. Maybe that is a nod by the distiller that this whiskey will work well with rocks, water, or mixers. If you try to sip your Jim Beam White Label, try it with water if you are not liking it neat

My composite score is for the whiskey at its best, with a couple of drops of water added

Related Jim Beam reviews

35 comments

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Was this sampled from the original bottle?

5 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan, no, the whiskey was transferred to another bottle.

5 months ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor What an interesting scenario... what would @paddockjudge have to say about something like that?

5 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan, I am not sure what it is that you are asking.

Some donors like to remain anonymous.

5 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor Just trying to get all the details to compliment an excellent review... stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye

5 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan, I understand, but what do you think that @paddockjudge would say about that?

He is certainly welcome to tell the tale if he wants to.

5 months ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

Thank you for the thorough and informative review. I’d say most JB White I’ve had falls around where you’ve scored this one; between 75 and 80 points. I’ve always noticed a bit of a citric note with Beam White Label that I quite like. In fact, JB White on the rocks with a wedge of lime was my go-to drink for a long time. When I wanted to get crazy, I’d buy JD Old No.7 and make the same drink. I have a soft spot for those two mass-produced ‘Merican whiskies.

5 months ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Victor, thanks for taking a bullet on this one. I have a few regrets about leaving bottles on the shelf on my recent trip with @Nozinan to the Baltimore/D.C. area. I regret leaving behind a Lot No 40 2012 Edition, Glenlivet Nadurra 16 YO and especially Jim Beam Black Extra Aged. I wanted to bring home a handle of this one, but there is a limit to all of this madness and 13 bottles seems to be mine....and Maker's Mark Cask Strength and another Talisker 18 YO, four more different WhistlePig Single Barrels, Boss Hog 13 YO, Wild Turkey Master's Keep Decades of Richness, Stagg Jr, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Knob Creek 25th Anniversary, Isaac Bowman Port Barrel Finish, 1792 Full Proof, Bulleit Barrel Strength, 18-pack of WhistlePig 50 ml minis, John J Bowman Single Barrel, Jefferson's Ocean Aged at Sea Cask Strength, Jefferson's Ocean Aged at Sea Voyage 15 Special Wheated Mash Bill.....

5 months ago 4Who liked this?

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

I have owned and consumed several, several bottles of this in my early years of college before I really appreciated whiskey. Never, not once, could I have drank this without mixing it.

5 months ago 2Who liked this?

@Frost
Frost commented

It's great to see a reviewer like you @Victor weigh in and review this whiskey. Everyone knows this whiskey and can use your review as a context for your other reviews.

I'll also take the time to state that in Australia this is bottled at a sinfully low 37% ABV, making it thin and woeful neat.

5 months ago 4Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

The recent release of the Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon and the Jim Beam Bonded (Bottled in Bond) Bourbon makes me think that the 'talent pool' of barrels remaining to be used for Jim Beam White Label is probably now even further thinned out than it had been in years past. I was very impressed by how the quality of Jim Beam Yellow Label Rye dropped off precipitously when the Knob Creek Rye was introduced. The cream of the best barrels of Yellow Label Rye had been skimmed off for a new product now sold for twice the price of the Yellow Label Rye. It looks to me that all of the market forces are working to exert pressure to put a lid onto the quality of Jim Beam White Label Bourbon going forward. With Scottish malt whisky, the lesser barrels are mixed into blended Scotch. With bourbon, the lesser barrels are sold as young 40% ABV inexpensive products designed for mixing with sodas or into cocktails. In both cases the idea is the same: the product is lacking on its own, but mixing/blending the whisk(e)y with other things disguises its flaws and makes it taste somewhat better than it would taste if it were appraised solely on its own merits.

I think that it is critically important for a person to know what the whiskey product which she or he is considering buying was designed for, and what a reasonable expectation would be for its level of quality. These spirits companies are businesses. They need to sell all the product they make. Only 1% of that product is top 1% quality. Only 20% of that product is top 20% quality. The rest is sold for lesser amounts of money for lesser purposes, and with generally lesser customer satisfaction resulting. A whiskey connoisseur will usually only want to buy the better products available. Scottish malt lovers seem to often forget in their "single malts are of superior quality" that they are typically drinking only the top 20-30% of the barrels/casks of single malt, because the remaining lower 70-80% quality of barrels of malt are well-disguised in the (by those same malt connoisseurs) poorly received 90% of Scotch Whisky, called Blended Scotch. From a large distiller like Beam Suntory 'the better products' gives a still large selection of excellent and very good choices, but Jim Beam White Label is not likely to be one of them.

5 months ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Great post here, @Victor.

That prompts a question in my mind: Does anyone know whether any Scottish malt distilleries sell their product exclusively as single malt?

5 months ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, I do not know whether there are any Scottish malt distilleries which sell only single malt. I too would like to know. I'll bet that every single one of them has barrels which they don't want to use and dispose of privately to some blenders. Even the US malt whiskey distiller Stranahan's in Denver now combines some of its 'single' malt with MGPI bourbon to make the blended whiskey known as Tin Cup. Tin Cup has its fans. I am not one of them.

5 months ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

As far as “best casks” of single malt sold as single malt, I feel it bears noting that “better” refers to these “higher quality casks” working on their own. The “lesser casks” may be too strong/weak in some aspect of taste or aroma, but that doesn’t mean they can’t bring something worthwhile to blends or that they’re inherently inferior.I feel like good whisky blending doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I mean, nobody is going to argue that the best stuff is ending up in J&B Rare (which is truly a dumping ground for Diageo’s trash), but I feel like some blends really are more than the sum of their parts.

5 months ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Victor, I want to say that I heard all of Lagavulin's output was sold as single malt. (Note that I'm not saying it all goes into their OBs—some of their stuff is obviously sold off to IBs, even if it's not always labeled as such.) But I heard that a very long time ago and I'm not willing to put much stock in it today. Besides, didn't they expand production?

Even Springbank, who is my usual suspect to answer any question about which distilleries are exceptional, markets a blend or two of their own, so they too have a dumping ground for their sub-par stuff.

5 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, was White Horse Blended Scotch discontinued? That one contains Lagavulin.

5 months ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Victor, the only White Horses I've ever seen are in pictures posted online by auction-buyers.

If they do still make it, I would want to see some credible source before believing it's still made with Lagavulin. Totally possible, of course—for all the reasons you posted above. But also somewhat unlikely given the demand for Lagavulin.

5 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, I don't know how to prove the distillery of origin for the malt, but we still have lots of NAS White Horse Blended Scotch for sale in my county's liquor system. $ 16.99 x 1.09 for 750 ml; $ 34.99 x 1.09 will get you a 1.75 L handle.

5 months ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Victor, well whaddya know! Maybe I just never looked on the right shelf.

In lieu of any concrete info, do you know whether the rumor-mongers still claim any Lagavulin component?

5 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, I don't have any new or very recent information on that subject.

5 months ago 0

RikS commented

I shall probably never buy a bottle... but nice to see an accomplished review of a very 'common' whisky - in line with the call for more reviews of e.g. the more available Japanese drams. Cause whilst I always enjoy reading about the extraordinarily rare and extortionately costly expressions... I do also come here for just regular purchasing inspiration. Thank you Victor.

5 months ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

Thanks @Victor for a very in depth review!

I like what you say about batch variation. I bought a bottle of this the year before last and it was dreadful, truly dreadful. All wood and spirit. Ice didn't even help and I ended up donating it to my Mum, who, to be fair, thought it was OK.

Fair to say I had a particularly bad bottle. Reckon 60 would have been generous.

5 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@RikS, @RianC, you are welcome! It is very important that reviews be done of products that many people will see and actually consider buying. Yes, very basic whiskeys rarely say, "This whiskey is meant for cocktails" (DO NOT SIP!) on the label. Beam makes a lot of very good bourbon, if you stick to the premium and super-premium releases. Jim Beam Black Label is usually not much more expensive than the White Label where it is sold, but it is a very large step up for the purpose of sipping. The Jim Beam Small Batch Collection whiskeys, Booker's, Baker's, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 60% ABV, Knob Creek Bourbon 50% ABV, Knob Creek Rye, and Basil Hayden's Bourbon, represent good value. You want some good Beam bourbon? Get some Booker's, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, or Old Grand-Dad 114. Old Grand-Dad was an established line acquired by Jim Beam in the 1980s which has a higher rye content (28-30% rye) than the standard Jim Beam mashbill (15% rye). Both the Old Grand-Dad 114 and Old Grand-Dad Bottled In Bond 100 proof are well worth having. Stay away from the 40% stuff. Booker's might not turn out to be your favourite whiskey, but I promise you that you will not be UNDERwhelmed by it! If you want to know Jim Beam, try some Booker's!

@Hewie, thanks for making that very good point about the reference to Lagavulin on the White Horse Blended Scotch bottle label. My bottle of standard White Horse Blended Scotch opened in December 2014 still has that reference printed on it:

"WHITE HORSE Blended Scotch Whisky is a fine matured blend containing at its heart the unique flavor (sic!) of LAGAVULIN single malt whisky from the island of ISLAY in the Hebrides."

5 months ago 3Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor - I got lucky a few months back and picked up a Booker's for an excellent price (all things considered). Can't wait to try it - will probably wait for Xmas now.

What with this 25% EU tariff on US spirits coming into effect soon I'm glad I did as buying bourbon might have to be off the menu for a while . . .

5 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC, your bottle of Booker's is of a proof which will hold up well after the bottle is opened. The intensity of Booker's will likely lead you to drink it sparingly, too. I think that you will be happy if you open it soon, in keeping with the tastes of many to drink bourbon during the warmer weather. If you try some now, I expect that you will still have some left for Christmas.

One thing to note with Booker's: the batches vary quite a lot and have individual personalities. So knowing one batch of Booker's is most definitely not knowing all batches of Booker's. Most but not all batches of Booker's are excellent.

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor When I first tasted Booker's in 2014 I was sure that it would be my go-to bourbon forever more. Even then, my first bottle lasted over a year.

Then you and @paddockjudge corrupted me further and I no longer have a go-to bourbon, there are too many that I like... so it is a rare bottle that will last less than 2 years for me now, unless it's so good that I have to get samples to all my connosr friends (like OGD 114).

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan, experience changes everything, does it not? One does not know what a genre has to offer until one experiences for oneself the better examples of that genre.

I always like to compare whisky appreciation to understanding the quality of gemstones. When I browsed the Bangkok sapphire stores it was looking at the $ 20,000 stones, not the $ 50 stones, which made me understand what to look for in a sapphire.

4 months ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor - Well you were right about opening the Talisker 57 North so maybe I'll take the bait . . . smiley

4 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC, the tools to broaden your world right now lie completely within your own hands! Experience what lies within your reach. Booker's has blown quite a few minds, especially those who have said, "That doesn't taste like Jim Beam White Label!" No, it doesn't.

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

@GoHabs
GoHabs commented

All I get from Jim Beam White Label is PEANUT. (I gave my bottle away.)

4 months ago 0

@GoHabs
GoHabs commented

All I get from Jim Beam White Label is PEANUT. (I gave my bottle away.)

4 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@GoHabs, peanut? Interesting. I can't say I have ever tasted peanut in bourbon, or in any other whisk(e)y. I don't go advising anybody interested in buying a bottle of bourbon to buy a bottle of Jim Beam White Label, either, though I have known people who liked it. That surprised me at the time because these were US people who had access to many good inexpensive alternatives to Beam White Label.

I think that the best way to understand bottom shelf bourbon is to see its parallels to inexpensive wine. As with wine, and especially in the US, it doesn't usually take much of an additional financial investment to greatly increase the level of the quality obtained when buying bourbon. The big problem is that the cheapest most mass-produced stuff usually makes its way around the world first and often acts as the only ambassador for the brand in places where selection is low. For a US resident with a plethora of bourbons omnipresent it is a 'no-brainer' for a whiskey-lover to select Jim Beam Black Label or one of the Beam "small batch" products over Jim Beam White Label.

It would be accurate, I think, to describe Jim Beam White Label as Jim Beam's mass-market blending bourbon, and Jim Beam Black Label as JIm Beam's mass-market sipping bourbon. Of course, Knob Creek and the other "small batch" Beam products are also "sipping whiskeys", but what Jim Beam Black Label has is a domestic price point only a few dollars higher than the price point of JIm Beam White Label. If Jim Beam White Label represents roughly the bottom 60% of barrels of Beam's standard mashbill bourbon, then Jim Beam Black Label probably represents the 60th to 80th percentile of their barrels by quality.

4 months ago 2Who liked this?

You must be signed-in to comment here

Sign in