PDA

View Full Version : New Beam Black Packaging



Gillman
01-12-2011, 09:44
As documented e.g., here: http://www.moodiereport.com/document.php?c_id=31&doc_id=25794 Beam Black has a new label and it's on the shelves at LCBO. The label states triple-aged, and a rear label explains that that is three times the aging needed under the definition of straight bourbon.

Gary

Brisko
01-12-2011, 09:52
Is this just a Canada thing? I thought it was a little dodgy when they decided that 8 years old would equal "Double Aged." Now 6 years old is "Triple Aged?"

Gillman
01-12-2011, 10:29
I don't know.

So far to me it looks like international only, but again not sure. I'm going to try this and offer taste notes, it's been a while since I've had Jim Beam Black.

Gary

StraightBoston
01-12-2011, 10:37
My understanding is that there's been no change to the whiskey in the bottle. Still a little bizarre that the US "Double Aged" is 2 years older than your "Triple Aged"!

cowdery
01-12-2011, 11:07
If I remember correctly, they took the age statement off the non-U.S. version of JBB a few years ago due to supply tightness, but left the U.S. version alone. Likewise, when the new bottle and label were introduced about a year ago in the U.S., the 'double aged' claim was introduced, premised on white label being 4 years old and black label being 8. This is the same bottle and similar label to the current U.S. version except for the aging statement. It's funny that the younger one is 'triple aged,' but correct as they are positioning it. Where I think this may be a mistake is in the high level of transparency that we have now with travel and communication across national lines. A bourbon enthusiast outside the U.S. has easy access to information about what is going on in the U.S. market and vice versa, so Beam is kidding itself if it thinks these two versions of the black label can exist in blithe isolation.

Brisko
01-12-2011, 11:30
If I remember correctly, they took the age statement off the non-U.S. version of JBB a few years ago due to supply tightness, but left the U.S. version alone.

I found this thread http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7845 in the "similar thread" list at the bottom of the page and it seems to address that specifically.

Gillman
01-12-2011, 12:30
Yes that's definitely the case, and the taste remained basically unchanged, i.e., with all the Beam signatures (little char, yeasty/anise notes, etc.). However, every time packaging changes, I like to try the brand, sometimes they do evolve over the years. Especially if Beam is getting away from palletized warehouses, I'm interested to see if the palate will change change over time regardless of age, although I do feel the move to ironclads is probably to increase the rate of maturation.

Gary

smokinjoe
01-12-2011, 13:44
Yes that's definitely the case, and the taste remained basically unchanged, i.e., with all the Beam signatures (little char, yeasty/anise notes, etc.). However, every time packaging changes, I like to try the brand, sometimes they do evolve over the years. Especially if Beam is getting away from palletized warehouses, I'm interested to see if the palate will change change over time regardless of age, although I do feel the move to ironclads is probably to increase the rate of maturation.

Gary

So that's what their doing with the Monitor and the Merrimack...;)

cowdery
01-12-2011, 23:30
Gary,

You're making too much of the palletized warehouses. They have like two of them out of approximately 50. They've probably built 15 new rackhouses since the last palletized warehouse was built. Plus the whiskey is ready when the whiskey is ready, it's not on the clock. If the maturation rate in the palletized warehouses is different, and there's no reason to assume it is, then they would simply adjust the duration. It's not going to change the whiskey but if you want that as an excuse to buy another bottle, that's cool with me.

Gillman
01-13-2011, 05:17
I'm not making too much of it, I am speculating that as the proportion of the whiskey from palletized in the bottles goes down, it may impact the taste. It's something I think could happen, an opinion.

For whiskey bottled 6 years ago, does anyone know the proportion of the whiskey that went into Jim Beam that came from the palletized warehouses? Was their capacity - all the different warehouses - equal? I seem to recall that the palletized ones are very large.

Gary

p_elliott
01-13-2011, 10:50
Not trying to change the subject I'm trying to picture this in my head but wouldn't Paleteritized whiskey have less wood exposure as it evaporated than rick barrels? Or am I just not good at math?

Gillman
01-13-2011, 11:11
There are numerous factors to consider. I know studies were done in Scotland on the effects of maturing whisky in the old dunnage (stone and earth floor) warehouses versus steel buildings where the barrels stand end to end. The top or head space of each barrel is different, the temperature variations won't be the same (nor too for each dunnage and more so where in different parts of the country), etc. So many variables... And in the U.S. again it will be different as between iron clad warehouses, brick ones where the barrels stand as in iron clads, and palletized type which I understand are temperature controlled (no hundreds of windows as in the iron clad type). I have never tasted the same new make as aged in each type for the same time, so I can't offer any thoughts based on actual taste tests, but it makes sense to me - it's a belief or opinion - that the results can't be the same and therefore, a bourbon drawn from all iron clad will be somewhat different from one drawn from one of other types and so will a bourbon featuring a different proportion of these. And so when I read some years ago that all new storage for Beam bourbon will be built in the old way, I thought long-term this might have some impact on the palate, beneficial likely I thought. And this is why or one of the reasons I still buy Jim Beam. This may sound odd to some ears but it is a reasonable way to look at it IMO.

Gary

cowdery
01-13-2011, 11:43
All of the warehouses have roughly the same capacity although I believe the newer rackhouses are a bit larger. I estimate about 4% of Beam's whiskey comes from the palletized warehouses, which I contend is unlikely to have an effect on the overall flavor profile, even assuming some discernable difference between the two types, which I reject.

All Beam warehouses, including the palletized, are metal-clad.

In the palletized warehouses the barrels stand on end and are stacked on pallets and moved around by huge fork lifts. The building is just a big open shell with large truck bay doors at one end and massive vented fans at the other to provide air circulation.

I was told that the biggest problem with them was leakage. They worked fine as far as maturation but they lost too much through leakage.

p_elliott
01-13-2011, 12:13
No body answered my question

callmeox
01-13-2011, 12:29
No body answered my question

My mental math says that there would be less air surface in a partially filled barrel standing on end than one on its side, assuming they contain the same volume. Assuming that this exposed surface is the main location for oxidation, a vertical barrel will oxidize less than one stored horizontally.

Do the barrelheads impart the same, more or less flavor than the staves? A barel on end has exactly one barrelhead comtacting the whiskey as it ages but one on its side has more than that untl it is half full, then the barrelhead contact is less.

So, to you want greater oxidation and barrelhead contact or less of each?

Gillman
01-13-2011, 12:40
Paul, I think barrels on pallets must have less exposure to the wood than racked ones, you are right. The top (barrel end) surface is lost or will be after a few months aging. And so with greater wood contact in racked warehousing, one would think such barrels would age faster. And they do, Waymack and Harris state that aging is 20% slower in palletized warehouses. They don't quote a source for this statement but it is in a section dealing with Beam's two warehouses of this type and in which they interviewed Booker Beam. There may be other factors for that 20% too, e.g., the air may not circulate the same way as in racked warehouses albeit Beam uses no temperature control or so is my understanding.

Such bourbon therefore to my mind can't taste exactly like its counterpart aged in a racked warehouse but if it's only 4% of the bourbon in the bottle - if - I agree the taste can't be affected very much.

Gary

Gillman
01-13-2011, 12:45
Scott, I follow your logic but I've always understood the aging comes from direct contact with the wood, the "breathing" and cycles of movement in and out you get with the weather changes. There would be some oxidation on the top (exposed) layer, similar perhaps to that standing in a bottle, but I don't think that's where the active principles of maturation are most at work.

Gary

ErichPryde
01-13-2011, 12:55
Gary,

I'm kind of curious as to how much change there will be as well. I have various beam running from 1968 to current, and the differences from there to here are less apparent than some of the similarities.

Of all the bourbons out there that can be sampled on a long time frame, Beam might actually be one that has changed the least. It has changed, it's gotten better, worse, better, &c, but the signature notes have remained the same throughout.

Gillman
01-13-2011, 16:10
Erich,

I'll offer taste notes on the "new" Beam Black in a moment, but must say I disagree with you regarding the profile over the period you mention. I have had numerous Beams issued between about '68 (i.e., distilled circa-1960) and 1990. In that period, whether from bottle or decanter, I found the taste quite different from Beam after that time. In particular it did not have the anise/orange rind taste I find characteristic of Beam in the last 20 years or so. As an example, I cite Doug Philip's Beam's Choice from the 1970's which was a rich rummy bourbon the likes of which I wish I could buy today.

That said, I find this new format (international only I think) Beam Black excellent. You should see the legs it throws, and taste is clean, deep, rich and inviting. The mouthfeel is soft and well-integrated, for a bourbon claiming only 6 years it is very mature. It is very similar to the best Knob Creek I've had but with a lesser proof. Very nice and well worth the $$.

Gary

kickert
01-13-2011, 16:34
of course once the barrel drops below 50% there would be less barrel head influence than a horizontal barrel.

cowdery
01-13-2011, 17:30
Most barrel heads are not charred. Only Woodford chars the heads, so far as I know. Therefore, head contact is of little consequence regardless of the orientation of the barrels.

Don't lose sight of the fact that no more than 5% of Beam's whiskey has ever come from palletized warehouses (my estimate).

The palletized warehouses were new when I saw them in 1991-92. So far as I know there were never more than two of them and also so far as I know, they are still in use.

Since we're all making assumptions, I assume the maturation experts at Beam would have made every possible adjustment to ensure aging consistent with their flavor profile. That would have been job one and that part of the experiment would have concluded by the mid-90s.

In Beam's case, I believe the palletized warehouse was a reaction to the decline of the labor-intensive practice of barrel rotation. Much like Jack Daniel's and Maker's Mark, and unlike Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace, because so much of Beam's output is in one expression maturation uniformity is a very high priority.

The palletized warehouse was, due to the forced air circulation, an effort to ensure more uniform maturation. The use of pallets and fork lifts was also a way to move barrels around within the warehouse in a more cost-effective way.

If they found that the palletized warehouses took 20% more time, that meant that with the addition of that time, the result would be the same, hence undetectible, hence that fact is of little consequence in this discussion.

All that said, I wouldn't be surprised if leakage was a reason for deeming the experiment a failure, but less than optimal maturation might also be a reason but they choose not to reveal it, which would be a very Beam thing to do (or not do).

However, if the results were really unsatisfactory, they would have stopped using those warehouses years ago and moved the barrels into rackhouses. It was my understanding that they weren't going to build more of them but they were going to keep using the ones they have. Presumably they're also still trying to tweak them.

So I think you're chasing nothing if you think you can taste the palletized whiskey in any Beam releases. Unless they do an all-palletized release, this discussion is moot.

warehouseman
01-13-2011, 20:28
Theirs not ant difference in rack houses and palletized, Its kinda like the barrell made from an oak in Mo and an oak tree in Ky

warehouseman
01-13-2011, 20:33
Theirs not ant difference in rack houses and palletized, Its kinda like the barrell made from an oak in Mo and an oak tree in Ky
But i got some JB to go drink

T Comp
01-13-2011, 21:24
Erich,

As an example, I cite Doug Philip's Beam's Choice from the 1970's which was a rich rummy bourbon the likes of which I wish I could buy today.

That said, I find this new format (international only I think) Beam Black excellent. You should see the legs it throws, and taste is clean, deep, rich and inviting. The mouthfeel is soft and well-integrated, for a bourbon claiming only 6 years it is very mature. It is very similar to the best Knob Creek I've had but with a lesser proof. Very nice and well worth the $$.
Gary

Here are my prior tasting notes about the current Black USA label (double aged) versus a Beam's Black label from 1978, aged 101 months and 90 proof: The current is light anise, white bread yeast, green fruit of apple and pear, flowers, pepper and hay. I'd further describe it as lively, fresh and mellow. The old Beam's Sour Mash Black Label is just much more heavier, intense, dark and brooding. Nothing mellow here. Any anise is more candied black licorice. The yeast is of a multi grain sour dough. There are combined complex tastes of corn, brown sugar-molasses and caramel. The rye leaves a perceptible zing on the back of the tongue. This for me is up there with some of the best bourbons I've ever tasted but if you prefer lighter, fruitier and drier then the current is for you.

ErichPryde
01-14-2011, 00:45
Gary,

I think I was too brief in what I said. The differences ARE very significant at times, and I can definitely tell if I'm drinking a current beam or an older one. Beam has gone through various stages: some Beam DID almost have a rum like texture and quality that I found completely amazing, and I also wish I could find a bourbon like that today. Some of the stuff I have tried has had a barnyard type mildewed sweet hay thing going on. Some of it has been rich and velvety, some of it has been heavy, sweet, and spicy.
I think many of the things I find as similarities lie in the nose, and perhaps some in the taste. Texture has certainly changed significantly depending upon year and proof. There certainly has been a big change between the current black label and earlier examples of it.

However, ultimately what I mean is, compared to other distilleries, Beam whiskey has changed little. Stitzel-Weller whiskey has gone through at least one recipe change and one yeast change that I am aware of, Turkey went from requisitioning their whiskey to distilling their own, Heaven Hill has had things going on (namely: fire) that significantly effected how and where they distilled and aged their whiskey. Old Grand-dad, Old Crow, Charter, Eagle Rare, many of the other names that were purchased and sold multiple times in the 80s and 90s, all of them have changed significantly In how they are made. Has Beam changed nearly as much? I don't know. Hmm... now that I think about it, Perhaps Maker's Mark can also claim to have gone through relatively little change... I'd bet they'd claim to have changed less now that I think about it.

Gillman
01-14-2011, 03:59
Definitely agree in the contextual way you are pointing out, Erich. Also, I would say Beam is more consistent now. I've had that "mildewed" 1960's-70's taste, bourbon with a lot of weather on it I call it. (And it was from a bottle that was not spoiled). The current is lighter, drier, more elegant overall. Still, something has been lost I think...

Gary

Gillman
01-14-2011, 04:03
That's an interesting point about barrel heads. I took a fast look at some Brown Forman Cooperage references online and thought they said all their barrel heads are charred but maybe it depends on brand, customer, etc., and clearly not all distillers do that to the head. But it's still wood and in the atmosphere of the barrel, I would think contact with the head even where not charred would promote aging.

Anyway it's just speculation, I wish I had bottles before me aged entirely in one or the other so I could judge myself. But if palletized is not more than 5% of any bottle it's a non-issue practically, I agree.

And good notes there T Comp, thanks for that.

Gary

ErichPryde
01-14-2011, 11:42
Definitely agree in the contextual way you are pointing out, Erich. Also, I would say Beam is more consistent now. I've had that "mildewed" 1960's-70's taste, bourbon with a lot of weather on it I call it. (And it was from a bottle that was not spoiled). The current is lighter, drier, more elegant overall. Still, something has been lost I think...

Gary


That damp sweet hay "weathered," or natural-type taste/scent, is present in the handles of 1982 beam 52 month white label I picked up just the other day. It's not bad, it's very interesting and different. I think the more common taste from the 80s white label though is the overboiled corn (blah corn, whatever?) type thing that sometimes goes on.

I actually added a couple ounces each of black label 1986, bonded 1969, and choice from 70(something) to this handle, and it's much better whiskey now than it was yesterday. seriously.

Gillman
01-14-2011, 12:41
That mingling makes a lot of sense, the logic is perfect.

I am planning a mingling soon of Baby Saz and the current Beam Black, I think that will work very well. The rich earthy/minty notes of the Saz will blend with the soft caramel and orangey/citric taste of the Beam.

Similar idea but different drink: 50% Heineken from the can (very fresh stock not more than 2 months from packaging) and 50% regular bottled Guinness (non-widget) and Rogue Imperial Stout. It's a half and half and the stout will absorb the pungent Hallertau character of the Heineken but take complexity from it.

Gary

squire
01-16-2011, 14:23
Well, I always say its what's in the bottle that counts, so, we'll see.

nblair
03-07-2011, 13:14
I apologize for bumping this old thread. Found a picture (http://books.google.com/books?id=93geJgMWt0IC&pg=PA115&dq=%22inside+the+innovative+palletized+warehouse+a t+jim+beam%22&hl=en&ei=YTt1Taj-G463tgev8qDrDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22inside%20the%20innovative%20palletized%20ware house%20at%20jim%20beam%22&f=false) of one of the old palletized warehouses at Beam and thought it was interesting. Figured I'd throw it in this thread since there was some discussion on it.

It just looks weird to be honest. Not nearly as romantic as a normal rickhouse, that's for sure.

Brisko
03-07-2011, 13:37
I found the text as interesting as the photo... the author states that Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's are the same recipe. I was under the impression that KC was the standard Beam recipe and BH was the OGD mashbill.

Gillman
03-07-2011, 13:41
Thanks for that and by the way, the reason I had wondered earlier about a palate associated with such warehousing was in fact the discussion in this book about this form of warehousing. True, the warehouse is mentioned as just one of many owned by Beam and it is clear that most of them were of conventional design, but because Beam gave the interview in this modern palletized warehouse, I had the impression it was the "future" and Beam wanted to give it publicity, showing its most "new and improved design" so to speak. This is sort of an inversion of the usual distillery practices of stressing what it is old and traditional, and you have to laud Beam for not gilding the lily here.

Anyway it appears today and then too of course this warehouse represents just a small amount of the bourbon that is dumped into what becomes Beam and the related brands, so I guess there is really nothing to what I was thinking. But my supposition was spurred by the discussion in that book of the palletized warehouse and the brief mention as I recall it (I don't have the book before me) that it could take longer to mature bourbon there than in a conventional warehouse.

Gary

nblair
03-07-2011, 14:11
I found the text as interesting as the photo... the author states that Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's are the same recipe. I was under the impression that KC was the standard Beam recipe and BH was the OGD mashbill.

I'm almost positive they are different recipes (I have always heard from people more knowledgeable than me that they were different). I do own a copy of this book and think it's good, but I did notice several incorrect statements while reading it.


But my supposition was spurred by the discussion in that book of the palletized warehouse and the brief mention as I recall it (I don't have the book before me) that it could take longer to mature bourbon there than in a conventional warehouse.

Gary, you are correct. They do mention that it can take up to 20% longer to age the bourbon, but Beam said they will just age it as long as needed to maintain the profile. The book says it was pretty much a move to cut the cost of labor and save space (I believe they held about twice as much as a normal rickhouse).

cowdery
03-07-2011, 17:23
At the time they were also very excited to be able move barrels around using fork lifts rather than by hand.

tmckenzie
03-07-2011, 17:58
I heard they are not building any more of them and will be or already tearing them down.

squire
03-07-2011, 22:39
Aren't some one story warehouses now using the pallet way to age Irish whisky.

Gillman
03-08-2011, 04:32
Yes and I understand it's very common in Canadian warehouses too.

Gary

p_elliott
03-08-2011, 08:15
I found the text as interesting as the photo... the author states that Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's are the same recipe. I was under the impression that KC was the standard Beam recipe and BH was the OGD mashbill.

And you would be correct.

squire
03-08-2011, 11:23
Saw that on the Discovery channel, believe it was at a Jamison warehouse in Ireland.

cowdery
03-09-2011, 13:34
A. Smith Bowman, in Virginia, stores barrels on end but I'm not sure if they're on pallets. In the pictures I've seen of Forty Creek the barrels appear to be on end but on shelves.

A full barrel weighs about 500 pounds. Nine to a pallet, that's 4,500 pounds.

cowdery
03-09-2011, 13:44
Mark Waymak and James Harris were doing interviews in Kentucky for their book at about the same time I was doing interviews for "Made and Bottled in Kentucky." Jim Murray was researching his American whiskey book at about the same time. Every place I went one of them had either just been or soon would be. That was 1991-1992 and really marked the beginning of the Bourbon Renaissance, though that's only apparent in retrospect. I didn't realize it at the time, but two book projects and a documentary making the rounds at the same time was unusual then in bourbon country.

squire
03-09-2011, 23:44
The books came out and the next time business required travel in sorta that direction we stopped at Bardstown, early '95, I date such things by how old my son was at the time as he traveled with me everywhere.

Great time there for a first visit, stayed at the Talbott, discovered the Getz, was suffused with Burbonia there and with many questions was directed by a nice lady (probably BetteJo's aunt) to a guy named Mike Veach. Found him elbow deep in papers in a small office and he politely took the time to fully answer my questions.

So after a stop at Toddy's buying a case each of 10 yr HH and AAA we left with my son's mother's commenting are you going to go 1/3 across the country carrying two cases of bourbon in the trunk?

My response was, actually darling, it's 2/3 rds counting the trip back and the answer is, yep.