AKA Jim Beam Choice
By Richard Thomas
I sometimes find Jim Beam Choice, or “Green Label,” mistakenly referred to as Jim Beam does Jack Daniel’s because of the charcoal filtration. That extra step isn’t the same thing as the Lincoln County Process, which relies on sugar maple charcoal specifically and is done before the whiskey goes into the barrel. Beam makes Green Label using ordinary charcoal and filters before bottling.
The more suitable comparison is between Green Label and Jim Beam White Label (“Original”). Beam Choice takes two steps up from Original, with the first being the aforementioned charcoal filtering. If you are among those who prefer Jack over Jim, then that ought to catch your attention. Although the two processes aren’t equal, Green Label’s charcoal filtration achieves some of the same objectives.
The second point is that Green Label has an age statement, whereas Jim Beam White (or Jack Daniel’s for that matter) does not. Green Label is a five year old plus, whereas White Label is predominately four years old with some five and six year old bourbon for good measure.
After filtration, Jim Beam Green Label is bottled at the standard 80 proof (40% abv). The appearance, both in the bottle and in the glass, is much the same as with standard Jim Beam: the middle amber look that is part of the stereotype of what bourbon whiskey is supposed to be.
The nose follows in that same benchmark vein: candy corn sweetness, caramel and vanilla with the note of rye spice, but in this case I thought the rye was subdued, as if the spice mix had less of the pungent stuff like ginger and cinnamon.
The palate goes on the same way. An undistinguished texture delivers flavors of expected caramel, vanilla, corn sweetness, plus a tinge of citrus and barrel char, but with a decidedly mellow characteristic. The finish is quite smooth, understated, and only slightly warm.
Jim Beam Green Label is certainly distinct from the White Label, and while Beam is hyping it as a cocktail mixer these days, I think it is better used in two capacities. One is as a low cost introductory bourbon, since its mellow character might make it a friendly choice for those who think of whiskey as too strong a drink. The other is for summertime drinking, because it’s not overly warming as is and retains a good grip on its flavors on ice.
In the US, expect to pay $13, about the same as a normal bottle of Jim Beam. In Europe, this is a pricier import and runs about €22.