By Father John Rayls
Jim Beam 12 Year Old Small Batch was released in 2013, as a part of the Jim Beam Signature Craft Series. That somewhat overlooked series also included The Harvest Collection, a 12 Year Old finished in Spanish Brandy casks, The Quarter Cask Bourbon and The Masterpiece finished in PX Sherry casks, among others. New Signature Crafts continue to come out periodically, and the old ones are either still in production or (at least) fairly available.
This 12 Year Old Bream is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey bottled at 86 proof. The coloring is a darker shade of copper, with beautiful polished brass highlights catching the light. The legs are thin and prolific.
The nose lies in the medium to assertive range, and is filled with oak, leather, sweet roasted corn and light caramel. The alcohol is noticeable, but not the point of burning.
If you are a long time Jim Beam fan, what you should observe here is a much older version of a familiar flavor profile. The whiskey is light, despite the higher proof, and doesn’t really coat the mouth. Almost all of the tasting experience occurs at mid-mouth with both upper and lower activity. It does drink slightly hot (at 86 proof!), but adding water will simply dilute the flavors too much. The flavors are light and match the nose, with oak, leather, sweet corn and very light caramel and vanilla.
The finish is also hot, with a slight touch of cinnamon that fades into pepper. Don’t let my noting the heat throw you though; in the main, this is an easy drinking whiskey that is just a touch hot.
Jim Beam 12 Year Old is available nationwide for between $40 and $50. Three packs of the Signature Craft series, including this one, are available for around $120.