By April Manning
Jim Beam is the world’s best selling bourbon brand, and they have introduced yet another addition to the family. Master Distiller Fred Noe made an example of being “innovating while also staying true to (Beam) family’s traditions” by presenting Jim Beam Double Oak.
Noe is a seventh generation distiller in the Beam family, a statement that in of itself indicates just how long the Beams have been in the business of making bourbon. Tradition means a lot to him, and he is reputed to take some of the, oh so important, jug yeast home each night for safe-keeping. This jug yeast is a closely guarded family secret and is the same strain that has been used since Prohibition ended. This helps Jim Beam maintain consistency throughout their bottles.
Jim Beam Double Oak is 86 proof (43% ABV) bourbon with a mash bill of 77% corn, 13% rye, and 10% Malted barley that (as the name suggests) has been aged in two separate barrels. First, it is aged in charred American white oak barrels for four years, and then it is poured into another charred barrel to mature for a second undesignated amount of time. How long the bourbon stays in the second barrel is determined by taste.
Upon first glance the bottle is extremely pleasing and features embossed glass and textured gold labeling on a beautiful dark blue background. This dark hue reflects onto the bourbon giving a false portrayal of being a deeper shade than the classic Jim Beam (which is only aged for four years). A quick comparison outside of the bottle shows that the double oak aging did not darken the bourbon. It has the same golden yellow tint with hints of amber that Beam drinkers are accustomed to.
The nose is not as harsh as classic Beam and gives instant heady notes of vanilla, citrus and earthy oak.
Although the taste is not as special as the process would lead you to believe, there is a difference in flavor between classic Jim Beam and Jim Beam Double Oak. This can be attributed to the extra maturation making the bourbon more complex and intense with exaggerated spiciness. The oak flavor is also expressed more, giving off earthier tones mid-palate. The finish is very long and dry, and the sharpness increases at the end.
The novice bourbon drinker may find this one a challenge to take neat. Adding water does make for more suitable sipping bourbon and over ice (as recommended) is even better.
Expect to pay between $35 – $40 for a fifth bottle (750 ml)