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DrinkSpirits
05-13-2013, 07:51
15369

We just posted our review of the new Jim Beam Signature Craft (http://www.drinkspirits.com/bourbon/review-jim-beam-signature-craft/) offerings.

These will be out in August 2013, $39.99 a piece at 86 proof. The 12 year is very much Jim Beam and will definitely appeal to existing Jim Beam drinkers looking to step up, but not interested in many of the big bold whiskies in the premium space. The Rare Brandy is an interesting experiment, but not as good as the 12 year. One thing to note is that Jim Beam went with screw tops for these, which is nice as there's no cork impact which seems to plague many of the premium bourbon releases that use natural cork.

Would love to hear your thoughts on our review.

Geoff

smokinjoe
05-13-2013, 08:42
Not sure how many premium bourbon releases are "plagued" by their use of natural cork. You reference the premium whiskies PVW, GTS, and PHC in your review, but I have not heard of problems associated with their use of cork. Certainly, there are personal preferences for and against the use of cork, which have been well discussed here on SB. And, there is always the potential for tainting in poorly stored bottles utilizing cork. But, I don't see where there's "...cork impact which seems to plague many of the premium bourbon releases that use natural cork." Though, we'll probably begin to see this problem increase, as Robert Parker's wine fans begin to horizontally store their newly hoarded cork closed premium bourbons in their wine cellars. :D

DrinkSpirits
05-13-2013, 08:49
Honestly my experience with Cork issues is more on the Scotch whisky side. I had a legendary bottle of Highland Park that I was offered a dram out of, only to find that the cork had totally disintegrated into the spirit...

IowaJeff
05-13-2013, 10:38
How does the 12 compare with Knob Creek? If it ends up at $40 around here it will be a little bit more than regular KC and a little less than KC single barrel. I really like the KC single barrel so the 12 would have to be pretty darn good for me to pick it over the KCSB.

How does the spanish brandy finish compare with Angel's Envy, or the PHC Cognac finish? I know they are not finished in the same type of liquor, but they are the only comparables I can think of off hand.

On the screw top issue: I'm split. The pragmatic side of me knows that a screw top is superior to a cork in every way. But my romantic side really likes popping the cork off when I open a bottle; and corks generally look cooler, and I haven't had any problems with them.

portwood
05-13-2013, 11:32
Would love to hear your thoughts on our review.
Geoff
In your page "About Drinks Spirits" you state:
Spirits are often provided by the manufacturer but we do not bias samples sent vs ones bought. We ultimately evaluate everything within the context of retail pricing. Some distillery visits are done and paid on behalf of visitor bureaus and some brands, but again this does not positively or negatively impact our content and evaluations.

What percentage of your reviews are based on purchased products vs freebies?
Did you buy the two Jim Beam products?

DrinkSpirits
05-13-2013, 11:56
Portwood. I did not buy the 2 Jim Beam products, they were sent as preview samples for us to review. I do buy a fair number of spirits (my monthly bill from Kappy's is painful), but we are also sent a ton of samples. Everything we review we take price into consideration and most things that come in after they are tasted, tested and review are given away to friends.

More importantly, no one on our editorial staff deals with any of the advertising on the site. This is a much more important space as some notable spirits pubs have editorial and advertising handled by the same person, which can create conflicts.

We're very transparent about what we do, so I'm happy to discuss this.

DrinkSpirits
05-13-2013, 12:01
IowaJeff. I like Knob Creek better, it's denser with more body and character. Having said this, Signature Craft is much more "Jim Beam", it's something I think wil really appeal to the traditional Jim Beam drinker. For my money, I'm a big fan of the Knob Creek Rye.

In terms of the Spanish Brandy, it's finished by ADDING brandy into the bourbon while Angel's Envy finishes it in Port barrels. I like barrel finishing much better, it integrates more and drives up the complexity. I think both Angel's Envy and Big Bottom Whiskey do a good job integrating port with bourbon. Same goes for PHC, although it took me a little while to warm up to that release.

I agree with you about screw top, I like the feeling of cork. Brugal does a synthetic cork for their 1888 which is a nice middle ground.

squire
05-13-2013, 13:28
Very through review Geoff, I believe you covered the bases.

DrinkSpirits
05-13-2013, 13:30
Thanks Squire. I am working on putting together a Google Hangout with Fred Noe to talk about the releases (and to just talk Beam). Will keep you posted.

squire
05-13-2013, 13:38
Please do, I appreciate a review that gives me information rather than some generic tasting notes and an arbitrary numerical rating.

DrinkSpirits
05-13-2013, 13:41
yeah number ratings are complete BS. We used to have star ratings but those aren't much better. Ultimately I see my job as giving readers as much info as I can about the spirit, my thoughts about it and the context for the release. But I know we can always do better, so I'm always open and interested in feedback and/or letting us know when we say something dumbass or miss the mark (it does happen).

IowaJeff
05-14-2013, 09:00
Thanks for the follow up RE Knob Creek comparisons. Sounds like the 12 is more of an extension of JB Black rather than Knob Creek. I'll probably give it a try if I see it around here. I don't know about the brandy one. I'll see if I can procure a taste of that before I shell out any $$ for it.

B.B. Babington
09-28-2013, 19:11
I'm not sure why more folks aren't talking about these. I'm sipping both now, and enjoying them.

I pulled out an 8 yo black label distilled about the same time as the 12 yo. Color near identical. 12 yo had little more nose. 12 yo was like the 8 yo but more depth, more richness, longer stronger aftertaste. It's not like the makers vs makers 46 where ya just about need to sip side-by-side to notice difference. I wish Beam would do more with age, perhaps I could get more excited by Beam products if they did. I'd love to try this in a 16 yo barrel proof! Makes me wonder if an 18 yo would develop more interesting complexity like ya find with other older whiskey/whisky and which is generally lacking in Beam products.

The Brandy Craft is an interesting attempt at complexity. I know it's more likely marketing ploy rather than real attempt to produce great product, but it is an interesting attempt at something unique that a whiskey drinker might like, rather than adding cherry or maple or some such nonsense.

MyOldKyDram
09-28-2013, 19:15
I'm not sure why more folks aren't talking about these.

Price and proof.

The standard 12 is pretty good though for a lighter whiskey.

B.B. Babington
09-28-2013, 19:38
I'm not a Beam fan, so it's a moot point to me. But people pay 3x for ER17 when it's only a little more than half again the age of ER10. Whereas this is only $10 or $15 more for half again more age than black label.

LCWoody
09-28-2013, 20:22
I never drink Jim Beam but I did get both of these, it's worth it, something different

zillah
09-28-2013, 22:39
I bought a bottle of the 12 because I enjoy the black. Really good stuff. Nice nose, super sweet, and very easy to drink. It is quite pricey for what it is though. If it says signature craft on the label they could at least offer it at 92 proof (a nice progression from the white and black) and non-chill filter it. Ah, well. Won't buy another but I won't say I didn't enjoy it.

Flyfish
09-29-2013, 07:00
On the screw top issue: I'm split. The pragmatic side of me knows that a screw top is superior to a cork in every way. But my romantic side really likes popping the cork off when I open a bottle; and corks generally look cooler, and I haven't had any problems with them.
That's pretty much my experience. Have opened hundreds of bottles and never had a problem with cork. I am one lucky bourbon drinker.

camduncan
09-29-2013, 15:54
Can't wait for this stuff to hit our shores here in Australia. It sounds like it would be right on the money for my taste preferences.

jburlowski
09-29-2013, 18:53
I found the 12 yo to be thin and insipid. I had flashbacks of being an adolescent and sneaking a sip of a "grown-up" drink: a blended whiskey mixed with water.

Pass.

Merrymash Monk
10-16-2013, 14:07
As I really like Beam Black I was excited to try the new 12 yo Signature. I got a bottle of the black at the same time and have been doing some comparisons. On the delivery I find the Signature has a lot more definition to the sweet notes. Instead of a general corn sweetness as the Black initially has, the signature has more defined notes of sweet caramel and vanilla and even some fruit. There is a complexity and distinct quality at mid palate that the Black doesn't have. On the finish, my experience is different than BB Babington's. I get a longer, more satisfying finish on JB Black. There is more oak, char and the distinctive cola note which altogether make up a finish that I've only found only in JBB bourbon- and have come to enjoy very much.
So which expression is better?
Well they're both great IMHO.
The Signature is more refined, complex, and a bit lighter, especially on the finish. It also has a sweeter, more appreciable nose. But the JBB holds its own with its own "signature" taste, especially in the finish. I actually like that it is just a bit rougher around the edges with more char and the touch of wood bitterness in the finish.
I paid $37 for the Signature and $21 for the Black. That's a reasonable premium to pay for the extra 4 years. As some have pointed out, some whiskeys really head skyward in price for just a couple extra years of aging.
But overall, I have to say that with value taken into consideration, JBB is hard to beat. It remains my favorite whiskey in the Beam line up. I hope it doesn't get crowed out. As it is, a lot of folks talk about the White label as an entry level and skip right over the Black to Knob Creek- usually as a good example of premium moderately priced Bourbon. Can't argue with that. But the 8 yo lower proof JBB hits the sweet spot for me.

det
10-25-2013, 16:38
Just appeared on shelves here in NorCal, $31.99. I'm much more curious about it at that price point.

suntour
10-26-2013, 02:10
I'm a known Beam apologist but I'd be all over that for $30.

Thanks M.M. for the side-by-side. It really gave me an idea of what to expect.

hn4bourbon
10-26-2013, 07:47
I got a bottle of the one with the brandy earlier this week but haven't had a chance to crack it open yet. I also felt that the price was reasonable for a try.

MyOldKyDram
10-26-2013, 07:56
I've yet to see the Brandy anywhere. Would probably give her a go, as I do enjoy the 12 yo.

Dolph Lundgren
10-28-2013, 06:01
I bought a bottle of the Brandy a month ago. I really like the Spanish Brandy I've had and I really love bourbon, so I thought this was going to work. However, it was a little too sweet - not cloying but a little off. I haven't revisted the bottle since.

When I get a chance, I'll sit down with it this week and post some better notes/thoughts. For now, you have to go off the fact that I opened it over a month ago, had one drink and haven't touched it since.

Gillman
10-28-2013, 07:24
Dolph, just top up with the regular 12 (or adjust as you like in a different proportion) and you will surely get the balance exactly right.

Gary

toddinjax
10-28-2013, 08:30
I'm not sure why more folks aren't talking about these. I'm sipping both now, and enjoying them.

I pulled out an 8 yo black label distilled about the same time as the 12 yo. Color near identical. 12 yo had little more nose. 12 yo was like the 8 yo but more depth, more richness, longer stronger aftertaste. It's not like the makers vs makers 46 where ya just about need to sip side-by-side to notice difference. I wish Beam would do more with age, perhaps I could get more excited by Beam products if they did. I'd love to try this in a 16 yo barrel proof! Makes me wonder if an 18 yo would develop more interesting complexity like ya find with other older whiskey/whisky and which is generally lacking in Beam products.

The Brandy Craft is an interesting attempt at complexity. I know it's more likely marketing ploy rather than real attempt to produce great product, but it is an interesting attempt at something unique that a whiskey drinker might like, rather than adding cherry or maple or some such nonsense.

Does anyone else agree with the comment about needing a side by side tasting to differentiate between MM vs 46? I sure don't find the difference so subtle.

cowdery
10-28-2013, 13:23
Just an FYI, the Beam Spanish Brandy is not 12-year-old bourbon. It's NAS but they tell me it's about 6-years-old.

Gillman
10-28-2013, 16:45
Then the 12 would improve it all the more.

Gary

Dolph Lundgren
10-29-2013, 11:14
Dolph, just top up with the regular 12 (or adjust as you like in a different proportion) and you will surely get the balance exactly right.

Gary

I'll try and mad scientist it and see if I can come up with something better!

Josh
10-29-2013, 11:45
These are on the Michigan list but I have yet to see any on store shelves.

Gillman
10-29-2013, 14:11
Dolph: you can't lose (really)! Just try it in the glass first, say 3:1 Brandy to 12.

Gary

Dolph Lundgren
10-29-2013, 14:36
I think I got it figured out: 2 parts Brandy, 1 part 12 year and 8 parts Coke - simply amazing!

hn4bourbon
10-29-2013, 17:20
I think I got it figured out: 2 parts Brandy, 1 part 12 year and 8 parts Coke - simply amazing!

Hmm...that doesn't sound too promising. I cracked mine open last night and didn't like it that much but I wondered if it was because it was following a big pour of the excellent FRSmB2013.

Merrymash Monk
10-31-2013, 18:10
I've found as I slowly work my way through the Signature, the more I like it. Just one thing though. As a Bourbon nerd I tend to parse labels and can't help but notice that Beam does not specify that this is a "straight" bourbon. Can't help but wonder why they would leave that out, especially if it is aged 12 years. Sure hope they aren't adding anything to it.

393foureyedfox
10-31-2013, 18:13
im guessing that aging it in sherry casks imparts some sherry to it, making it not a straight bourbon technically

Gillman
10-31-2013, 18:30
That whiskey and Coke sounds good. Someone should give it a name. :)

Gary

Gillman
10-31-2013, 18:31
How about the MDA? Short for May-December-in-Atlanta. Get it?

Editing to say I tried it with Maker's, EC 12 (since I don't have the others), and Coke, in the proportions mentioned. I added a lemon slice.

Excellent and the dose of older bourbon does really improve it but it's still fresh and lively.

Gary

Dolph Lundgren
11-01-2013, 06:32
How about the MDA? Short for May-December-in-Atlanta. Get it?

Editing to say I tried it with Maker's, EC 12 (since I don't have the others), and Coke, in the proportions mentioned. I added a lemon slice.

Excellent and the dose of older bourbon does really improve it but it's still fresh and lively.

Gary

Are you sure the citrus from the lemon wasn't too overpowering? I'm a stickler for balance.

Gillman
11-01-2013, 08:07
I agree lemon can "ruin" a drink and it is a powerful flavor. This is why I think the old books advise to twist some of the oil from the skin on the rind and leave it at that.

I cut my lemon slices (for any drink) very thin and use just a portion of that, helf or less of the wheel. Works well because also, the drink doesn't last long. :)

Gary

Merrymash Monk
11-01-2013, 08:09
Yes Foureyed. The Spanish Brandy one is finished in brandy casks so that could be why there's no "straight" designation But the Signature Craft is not. That's the one I'm talking about. Haven't tried the Spanish Brandy one yet.

HighInTheMtns
11-01-2013, 10:40
Yes Foureyed. The Spanish Brandy one is finished in brandy casks so that could be why there's no "straight" designation But the Signature Craft is not. That's the one I'm talking about. Haven't tried the Spanish Brandy one yet.
Don't think it's finished in brandy casks; rather, they just vat it with some brandy prior to bottling.

Merrymash Monk
11-01-2013, 14:07
Yes High, you're right. Guess I didn't pay close enough attention to the Spanish Brandy version as it didn't really interest me so much as the standard one.

hn4bourbon
11-03-2013, 21:51
I tried a few pours of the Spanish brandy version. I have liked this ok tonight. The difference is I drank this first before anything else. I have also had a period a while ago where I drank exclusively brandies. So, it was good to taste some of it in this.

cas
12-02-2013, 14:39
These are on the Michigan list but I have yet to see any on store shelves.
Anyone seen this yet in Michigan?
Craig

weller_tex
12-02-2013, 14:51
I bought the JB 12 year on sale at Spec's for $32.99. I really, really like it. The front side reminds me of Baker's (which I like as well)..kind of a nutty candy bar taste with a hint of vanilla. The finish has quite a bit of cinnamon and just a brief hint of mint. It is a bit watery at 43% ABV, but all in all it is one of my new standard pours.

adub23
12-02-2013, 17:39
Anyone seen this yet in Michigan?
Craig

I actually just saw a bunch of both types on the shelf of the store I was just at. If you are looking for them, pm me.