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Jim Beam White Label

Back To The Basics #1: Jim Beam

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@SquidgyAshReview by @SquidgyAsh

18th May 2012


Jim Beam White Label
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I need sample bottles, badly, for a whisky swap with my friend Systemdown. Now I'd scored three of them when I purchased the Auchentoshan sample set, but I needed more.

But where was I to get them? Then I had a what I hope is / will be a great idea. Dan Murphy's has sample bottles of Jim Beam White Label, Jack Daniels, Chivas Regal 12 yr old, Johnnie Walker Black and Red Label. I would pick up a sample of each of these bottles and review it.

Now most of the reviews I've seen so far have been brief, basic, pretty much "Good as a mixer"

Fair enough. But I'm a whisky geek. I wanna tear a whisky apart and KNOW it.

And even better for me hahaha is I've never had Jim Beam, any bottle, or Johnnie Walker Red and Black Labels.

Now the first bottle, Jim Beam White Label, I should add by all technical definitions is no longer a bourbon.

I bet that made you blink.

Didn't it?

See bourbon is supposed to be bottled at no less then 40%ABV. Over here in Australia the Jim Beam White Label is bottled at 37% ABV, as are several other bourbons on the market.

Now to me, a purist, this bugs me because as I said, it's no longer a bourbon, but continuing on.

So I purchase these sample bottles on the way home from work and decide to crack open the whisky I haven't tried and have heard things about for years.

Jim Beam White Label.

I crack open the sample, pour it into my glencairn and notice immediately the bourbon smells that are oh so familiar to me, but with a hint of roughness.

Smells of oak, touches of vanilla, cherries, some licorice are present throughout the nose. But it feels, subdued.

I nose the glencairn for roughly 40 or so minutes, trying to tease more out of the whisky. There might be a touch of honey, but not much else.

I then take a sip, and am surprised, blinking my eyes. It's whisky water.

That's right. Whisky water.

There is practically no mouth feel. I might as well be drinking funny flavored water.

The flavors that stand out are oak, touches of vanilla, some honey and traces of cherries. But for all intents in purposes this is water.

The finish is pretty much nonexistent and is just gone with a faint oak aftertaste.

People say it's a good mixer whisky, I disagree. When I use a whisky in a cocktail I want at least some of the whiskies flavors to come through. With this, the flavors are so muted that I doubt that would occur.

This isn't bad whisky per say, it's just horribly watered down and rough. It runs roughly $35 AUS, which for most people makes them say sure why not, however with much better whiskies available for only five to ten dollars more, why not splurge and get the better whisky.

Look elsewhere if you're interested in a bourbon.

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Victor commented

Since 40% is almost always too dilute for bourbon, I can only imagine 37% abv. I've never had a sip of any whisk(e)y at 37% abv. The US doesn't allow whiskeys below 40% abv. Beam White at 40% is not bad whiskey, but merely very basic whiskey which has been diluted for use in mixers. There is plenty of good whiskey up the food chain at Jim Beam. Drink some of that.

11 years ago 0

Fons commented

37% ABV? That's just ridiculous. Shame on you Jim Beam.

11 years ago 0

Pudge72 commented

Is this Jim Beam's doing, or is there a Australian law or regulation that requires this stuff to have a lower ABV? What might be the reasoning for the sub-40% bottling? Is this stuff bottled in Australia? If it's bottled in Kentucky, I would think they would have to use a different label since it cannot be called straight bourbon. Enquiring minds want to know... :)

11 years ago 0

systemdown commented

Can you see why I was put off "bourbon" in my youth, when this was what all the cool kids were drinking? Awful. Anyway.. thanks for taking one for the team @SquidgyAsh! At least you'll be able to replace the contents of the sample bottle with something considerably nicer!

@Victor @Fons Agreed that 37% ABV defies belief. Shame indeed.

@Pudge72 It's not a legal requirement at all. I suggest there's a "loophole" here that allows Jim Beam to sell the stuff at below 40% ABV and/or they pay less taxes on it if it's under 40% (speculating). Being Aussie I should probably look into it. I'm sure it just means Beam can simply make a larger profit on the stuff.. it might still be bottled in Kentucky if it's earmarked for Australia, they're probably allowed to label it however they like as long as it doesn't break Australian law (again, speculation - I would not think it's bottle here in Aus).

11 years ago 0

SquidgyAsh commented

@Victor Agreed. I was curious as to finally experience Jim Beam, but mainly wanted the sample bottle for the whisky tasting for System. I REALLY am missing the US at times like this, because those 5 bottles are the only ones I've seen in a normal liquor store over here compared to the US.

@Fons Agreed. Sadly they're not the only bourbon over here bottled at 37% which is just ridiculous.

@Pudge72 I think it's more a Jim Beam thing instead of an Aussie thing. There is another bourbon, Cougar Bourbon, which sits at 37% ABV. All the other bourbons I've seen sit at 40% or higher.

@Systemdown Anything for friends :D I figured it was a good cause!

@Everyone I think the lower ABV is due to an alcohol tax, although I could be wrong. I've heard the high cost is to prevent underage, but what happened is that lots of cheap wines, beers, and Jim Beam flooded the market. So a normal good scotch which might be say 50 bucks in the US gets knocked up to 150 bucks. Where as the cheaper stuff floods into the country at lower prices.

I've heard that they're debating making a new alcohol tax (please repeal the old one) where the tax won't be so much based on the value of the alcohol, but on just the volume instead, this tax I've heard is the latest effort to bring down underage and aboriginal drinking from what I've heard.

I'm sorry if my comment there didn't make much sense, but I've just woken up hahaha.

Tonight another review!

11 years ago 0

Donski commented

completely agree with that score, i'm not a fan of jim beam

11 years ago 0

Jason0142 commented

I think this score is pretty spot on, Jim Beam White @ 37% is a sad little whiskey. They can make good bottles though, check out Bookers, Bakers and Knob Creek from there small batch range. It may be a little hard to believe after trying the White label but Jim Beam actually can make a fantastic bourbon.

11 years ago 0

SquidgyAsh commented

One of my personal all time favorite whiskies is actually Knob Creek. Makes me so sad that it's such a pain to get here in Australia. I haven't tried Bookers or Bakers though, but one day soon!!!

11 years ago 0

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