Provenance: Kentucky (USA)
Typology: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Ageing Barrels: Charred American Oak
Additional Coloring: No
Owner: Jim Beam (Beam Suntory)
Average price: € 30.00
Official website: www.knobcreek.com
The American arm of Japanese giant Suntory, Beam Suntory, is the third world giant in whisky production, behind only Diageo and Pernod Ricard, and has one of its diamond tips in the Jim Beam distillery.
Founded in 1795 in Kentucky as Old Tub by Jacob Beam, the distillery will take its current name from one of his sons, James Beauregard Beam, with the family emigrating from Germany (whose original name is Böhm) who have been in control for several generations.
Prohibition blocks production during James’s management (who takes advantage of the newfound freedom to devote himself to the cultivation of lemons), taking back the reins of the company by rebuilding it from head to toe in 1933-34 in Clermont, Kentucky. And it’s in 1935 that the James B. Beam Distilling Company was born, at the will of Harry L. Homel, Oliver Jacobson, Harry Blum and Jeremiah Beam.
The production of Bourbon by the distillery proceeds smoothly over the years, with several Master Distillers following each other, among which it should be remembered Booker Noe who, in 1987, introduced the Bourbon that bears his name (Booker’s), the company’s first cask strength product.
Suntory acquired the distillery in 2014, giving birth to Beam Suntory.
Twice the fire destroyed Jim Bean’s deposits: in August 2003, sending 13,000 barrels into smoke and causing a huge environmental disaster in the neighborhood, and in July 2019, destroying 45,000 barrels and with some of the Bourbon pouring into nearby rivers for an estimated total damage of $45 million.
Several labels are produced by Jim Beam, in addition to the Jim Beam you find the aforementioned Booker’s, Basyl Hayden’s, Baker’s and Knob Creek.
Of the bottle I’m talking about today, there is a declared ageing version (9 years), and it’s made following the same procedure like during the period before prohibition (or so they say).
Also present in the portfolio are a 12yo and a Rye (always 100 proofs, i.e. at the alcohol content of 50%), a select Bourbon and a single barrel with 120 proofs and a select Rye at 115 proof.
Dark amber in the glass.
Leaving time to the whiskey to ventilate and release the initial alcoholic sting, the classic soul of Bourbon emerges powerfully on the nose, with maple syrup, caramel, cinnamon, freshly cut wood, vanilla. The resinous texture of the nose becomes thicker as the minutes go by, increasing the spicy and warm charge of the distillate.
The alcoholic charge is also well balanced on the palate, offering a tantalizing peppery tip that revives a less incisive whole than on the nose, calm in the flavors of caramel and wood where malt (and corn) stand out more at the expense of sweeter tones. Dry and spicy, less full-bodied than might have been expected, it proves capable of elegance and a certain sobriety.
Fairly long finish of wood, caramel, spices, maple syrup.
A very loaded sense of smell corresponds to a more sober but not flat drink, pleasantly dry and woody, that lasts for a long time after the end. Not very complex but with personality, and for such an affordable cost almost unexpected.
More from Jim Beam in the blog:
Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon