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Jim Beam is an absolutely iconic whiskey, and the distillery puts out some extremely good whiskey (Booker's Small Batch being a prime example). But how about their standard product? I've heard several times that it's a decent mixing whiskey, but to be honest I've never actually tried it myself (since I tend to prefer my whiskey by itself). Recently I was given a bottle, and was interested to see how such a famous whiskey would turn out.
Appearance: pale gold. I generally try not to read too much into colour though, so we'll see how it smells and tastes.
Nose: already this isn't boding well. The nose is weak and the flavours indistinct. Some vanilla, faint glimpses of honey, hints of wet oak, perhaps a touch of cooked apple. Not much else. Neither water nor time can bring out anything more.
Palate: the mouthfeel is incredibly thin and watery, and the flavors are even less intense than the nose. It's also what I would call 'blurry': nothing is distinct or stands out on its own. There are some woody notes, vanilla again, and very strong sweetness of honey and perhaps light caramel.
Finish: Almost absent. A faint, short oak taste and then gone.
Overall impressions: Though I've often heard this described as a 'mixing whiskey' I would have to say that I wouldn't use it in a cocktail myself- it's far too bland and unimpressive. In fact, that's a perfect way to succinctly describe it. It's not actually BAD - there's nothing actively unpleasant about it, certainly. But it's extremely uninteresting. Definitely one to avoid when you're at the liquor store.