By Father John Rayls
Average Rating: B
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 5 years, you might not have noticed that the world of whiskey has been undergoing some dramatic changes. The record demand for all-things whiskey has brought about an unprecedented explosion in new distillery startups, and there have been new innovations and experimentation from the old and somewhat staid distilleries as well.
Another feature is a major move to on the part of the big distillers to NAS (No Age Statement) expressions. Jim Beam Black Extra Aged Bourbon, previously an eight year old, is one of those that has switched. Sometimes these transitions from age statement to NAS are made to grow a specific brand (i.e. move more bottles) and sometimes it’s more of a supply issue (i.e. not enough aged stock to maintain one or more existing age statement brands).
NAS or 8 year old, Beam Black is popular because it tastes great and it’s quite inexpensive, and it’s also available just about anywhere. The NAS version was declared the world’s top bourbon after winning the 2016 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).
The bottle is very attractive with its beautiful black, gold and red label, and a pour of the bourbon has an attractive dark orange hue in the glass. As the sunlight reflects on and through the glass there are highlights of brightly polished brass. The legs are decidedly visible and slowly descend around the Glencairn glass.
The nose, however, is disappointing. It’s coy, although I noticeed some light oak on top of a very light caramel base with very light cinnamon.
This is a medium bodied whiskey with a light, but somewhat creamy, mouthfeel. It’s an easy drinking bourbon with most of the mouth action near the back. There are flavors of caramel, oak and very light charcoal. The real taste experience is very short and light as it leads quickly to the finish which is long and satisfying. The finish is almost entirely at the back of the mouth at the top. It’s primarily cinnamon and all-spice based. A little bit of heat is generated in the finish, but only enough to make it interesting. Some of the action in the finish creeps up the sides of the tongue and lingers for a significant period of time.
Jim Beam Black Extra Aged Bourbon was a real surprise for me. I recently did some work on the Jim Beam Double Oak and had heard that many people preferred the Jim Beam Black. I prefer the Black Label too. As I mentioned before, this is an easy drinking bourbon and would be appropriate as an inexpensive go-to, for cocktails or mixers.
Addendum by Debbie Shocair
On the nose, this fine bourbon was heavy with sweet raisins and taffy. Breaking it with a ½ teaspoon of water brought the taffy notes forward, along with vanilla notes, loads of vanilla.
The mouthfeel of JB Black was at the tip of the tongue. A modest tingle for an 86 proof spirit. The medium finish on the spirit was sweet, woody and spicy. It was rife with oak, very oaky in fact, but not overpoweringly so.
Jim Beam Black Bourbon treads a fine line. It comes out of a longer maturation, but not so long that any note of high tannins come forth.
You can find Jim Beam Black Extra Aged Bourbon in the neighborhood of $20.00, and even find it as low as 18 bucks. At that price, how can you not give it a try?