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Jim Beam White Label

Don't Be Afraid to Drink it Neat

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@jerryclydeReview by @jerryclyde

2nd Dec 2014

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    80

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Way back in the 60s, White Label (with ginger ale or cranberry juice) was my drink of choice. Since then, I really hadn't drank much of JB and hadn't given in much thought. Then a friend from Quebec brought down a couple bottles to share. One of them was a liter bottle of JB (some gift, I thought) the other a 10 yo Whistle Pig (nice!!). We enjoyed the Whistle Pig, but the next afternoon, much to my surprise, I noticed my friend sipping on White Label NEAT. He pronounced it "quite good." I tried it neat and was pleasantly surprised. This was not the same stuff I remembered. I

Color: Old Gold

Nose: Very light and floral. Some vanilla.

Palate: Surprising change from the nose as the palate is quite full bodied. A nice mouth feel with up front brown sugar highlights. Vanilla and licorice make an appearance late with tingling spices.

Finish: Short but solid.

This is never going to be a first tier bourbon, but this bottling was far beyond some of the 50 ratings it has received previously. Try it with an open mind.

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4 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

Like most large batch brands, Jim Beam White Label can vary quite a lot from batch to batch and from year to year. 40% abv is usually too dilute for my taste to make a good sipping bourbon. These 40% abv bourbons are generally intended for cocktails, anyway. The best barrels Beam has in inventory will go to the small batch bourbons and other special releases, then to the Jim Beam Black Label, and now to the new White Label Single Barrel releases. Standard Jim Beam White Label is what is left over after all the best barrels have been combed over and re-combed over for aging for the premium products. It is no wonder that the Jim Beam White Label is the lesser quality product which Beam has to offer. Any informed person should know in advance that deciding to buy Jim Beam White Label is deciding to buy the lowest quality of bourbon which Beam Suntory has to offer. It should be no surprise that Beam White is usually not a great sipper. I agree with you @jerryclyde that Jim Beam White Label is usually much more than a 50-something pt whiskey. I don't think I've ever done a review of Jim Beam White Label. I expect that my score would be within a few points of your own, though I haven't had a taste of it in years.

5 years ago 0

@jerryclyde
jerryclyde commented

Victor, thanks for your note. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@jerryclyde, I like your broad taste. There is much to be said of a man who is unafraid to go back to Jim Beam White Label after he has had George T. Stagg. A continuously fresh take, 'beginner's mind' is what is required to live in the whisky moment and retain an unbiased honest perception. Bravo!

5 years ago 0

@jerryclyde
jerryclyde commented

Victor, I like your idea of the "beginner's mind" as it applies to the enjoyment of whisky. That is certainly the approach I take, trying to be open minded and casting prejudices to the wind: as if the whisky I'm about to taste is my first whisky experience. I'm pretty much a solitary taster (my wife loves to nose whisky, but prefers her pinot noir) and have not been exposed to a lot of social whisky tastings. I attended Whiskey Fest in NYC a couple of years ago (the very weekend of Super Storm Sandy) and I must say I had a very mixed reaction. The selection of whiskies and the buffet were all first rate, but some of the attendees really pissed me off. It was educational to watch people choose which expression of a given whisky they were to sample. All too often, the choice was predicated by price and/or reputation - so at the Ardbeg table (for example), the spectacular 10 yo was essentially neglected in favor of the more expensive expressions. If most of the tasters were experienced with Ardbeg's expressions, I could see them going right to the Uigeadail, but by the nature of some of the questions asked the distillery represenatives, they were obviously not experienced whisky drinkers, and were looking for the "good stuff". In other words, they were not exhibiting "the beginner's mind" and missing an opportunity to learn something about Ardbeg and its whiskies - not to mention, missing out on that 10 yo. Have a good holiday!

5 years ago 0

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