Saturday, March 7, 2020

Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $22
- 86 Proof
- Kentucky

I feel like I've been ignoring the Jim Beam lineup for far too long. I enjoyed the bottled-in-bond, and I really liked the double-oak.  The other day, I found myself looking at the Beam section of the liquor store shelves, and I realized I've never had the black label, nor the Distiller's Cut or Repeal Batch, and so I made some lower dollar purchases to get them in the queue.

Although it's lower proof, I've heard good things about the black label, and the price certainly can't be beat. I figured at the least I'd be out $22, and at best perhaps I'll find that regular sipper at a good price.

Despite its lower proof, the nose on this bourbon was pretty pungent. I got a decent amount of spice, kind of like a stick of cinnamon. Underneath that spice was something between a woody and a nutty note, kind of like pecan. I also got some brighter fruits, like black cherry and black raspberry (perhaps the label was creating a bit of a pre-disposition towards "black" fruits).  On later pours, the woodiness of the nose seemed to stick out a bit more, but it all worked together, and I couldn't stop sniffing my glass.

The first thing I noticed on my first sip was the thin texture. It was very watery, but that's to be expected given the proof. However, it delivered far more flavor than I was expecting, and in that respect it did not match the texture.

Caramel and vanilla led the way throughout, with the vanilla being the first flavor to hit my tongue, and the caramel being the flavor that seemed to stick around after every other flavor had left the party. The caramel reminded me of a sweet, sugary caramel, like the caramel syrup Starbucks drizzles into fancy coffee drinks.

To balance the sweetness there was a little bit of wood, and even a light char note. That char note, mixed with the caramel, reminded me a bit of creme brulee, with the cooked caramel sauce. It had that certain burnt sugar note that I'd associate with such desserts. I also got distinct pie notes. There was a bit of that bakery taste that reminded me of pie crust, as well as a light baked apple note that worked really well with the caramel. At times I also got some light anise notes.

All in all, the flavors in this bourbon were more pronounced than I ever expected, and they all worked really well together. If I have a knock on this bourbon, it's that it was too sweet for my taste, which is something I certainly did not expect. Despite the notes of wood and char, it was still full of those caramel and burnt sugar notes. Nonetheless, this was delicious, and certainly a pour I'd never turn down, especially for the price!

Grade: B+

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