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View Full Version : why not a Jim Beam branded small batch??



NorCalBoozer
10-26-2005, 10:05
I don't know a lot of the history of Beam, so if the following is off, please correct me.

I am a bit perplexed with Jim Beam. It is a long established name, ala JD, yet they have what?? JB White, Black, Choice, Rye?? all under a $20 pricepoint and they are great bourbons for the price. But I don't understand why they don't have some higher end stuff with the beam name.

yes they have the small batch, but nothing with "Beam" on the label. I think it would be a slam dunk to have a small batch type bourbon with "Beam" on it. I bet it would be their highest small batch seller.

I mean you are getting built in consumers who already know the name. Most people don't know Bakers, Bookers, Basil Haydens are associated with Beam.

have they had this type of product in the past??

thoughts???

bobbyc
10-26-2005, 10:58
I don't know if this will help but the latest interstate Billboards they have put up say they didn't spend 210 years developing a label, It's what's inside that matters most.

I too wonder as you do, sometimes, they do have a stable of labels and could load the shelves with as diverse offerings as BT does. And they don't do it. I really think they are geared only to high production, even a Small Batch of Bookers is 150 or so barrels.

I'm good for a bottle or 2 of Single Barrel Old Taylor anytime they can get to it. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif

TMH
10-26-2005, 11:51
Interesting question.

My guess would be that the customers who are attracted to the Jim Beam name are not aware of or interested in small batch bourbons. Other factors may play a role in their purchasing JB, like price or nostalgia. The customers who are interested in small batch bourbons already know about JB's other offerings (KC,Bakers,Bookers).

Also, by introducing another label you run the risk of cannibalizing other products, like JB Black or KC.

The simpler the product offering, the less confusion, and the less potential for lost sales.

NorCalBoozer
10-26-2005, 12:26
good points. what is interesting is the effort Beam has made to distance Small Batch from Jim Beam. There is no mention or link to Small Batch site from Jim Beam site.

It's like Beam doesn't want the consumer to link Jim Beam to Small Batch. why? maybe for the reasons you mentioned.

and I do have to give props to KC. It's the star of the small batch group in terms of name recognition, sales, taste and price point.






Interesting question.

My guess would be that the customers who are attracted to the Jim Beam name are not aware of or interested in small batch bourbons. Other factors may play a role in their purchasing JB, like price or nostalgia. The customers who are interested in small batch bourbons already know about JB's other offerings (KC,Bakers,Bookers).

Also, by introducing another label you run the risk of cannibalizing other products, like JB Black or KC.

The simpler the product offering, the less confusion, and the less potential for lost sales.

barturtle
10-26-2005, 14:11
I think that customer perception is a key point here. If they were to market a small-batch wih the Beam label, many of their regular customers (by this, I mean, the ones who don't pay attention to top-shelf stuff or who wouldn't know that the small-batch collection is taken from the "same" stocks as Beam's other whiskies) might be lead to believe that Beam has taken the "good" whiskey out of the regular bottlings and put it in this much more expensive bottle. Many of there customers would be very upset and possibly switch to another bourbon.

...of course these same customers, not knowing any better, might just switch to another Beam product http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

camduncan
10-26-2005, 14:31
They distribute 2 other bottles that we see Downunder & Duty Free. Both are Jim Beam Brands. The Bonded is available Duty Free (it has 'seeped' into the retail market over the last year or two), and the Small Batch has port added and seems to only be available in our market.
However, I too am perplexed at the marketing choices they make..

The first picture shows the Jim Beam Bonded on the left with its box to the immediate right of it.
The 2nd picture shows the Jim Beam Small Batch with Port added..

camduncan
10-26-2005, 14:33
And the 2nd picture -

cowdery
10-26-2005, 15:16
I can provide a little historical context, as well as some strategic marketing context.

Prior to 1987, Jim Beam was pretty much a single brand company. Jim Beam (white label) bourbon was the flagship and the only product that said "Jim Beam" on the label, but just about everything else they sold had "Beam" on the label in some context. Some of these were higher-end products, such as the original "Beam's Black Label," which was an 8-year-old straight bourbon. Some were blends and other cheaper products. They even had a tequila they called "Beamero."

Then, in 1987, they merged with (acquired, really) National Distillers and gained a huge portfolio with brands in just about every distilled spirits segment, including more than 40 different bourbon brands. They spent a lot of time paring that down. I think that experience gave them a healthy regard for out-of-control brand proliferation.

During that period, they also got rid of "Beamero" and the other cats and dogs they sold under the "Beam's" name, since they had any number of old National names to use for any segment they needed to be in. They also held to their strategy of not putting the full "Jim Beam" name on anything except white label. It was a fairly big deal when they came out with "Jim Beam Black Label." So they are very concerned about diluting the brand or confusing consumers about what the brand stands for, which is authentic bourbon whiskey at an affordable price.

The big thing you have to remember is that white label is a high volume, low margin product while the small batch brands are low volume, high margin. The "Jim Beam" brand is in the former business, not the latter. The difference between the two is huge. For about 50 minutes of every hour the two Jim Beam whiskey distilleries are operating, they are making Jim Beam White Label. Everything else is made in the remaining ten minutes.

NorCalBoozer
10-26-2005, 15:26
great pictures! so is that bonded a 12 y.o. at 100 proof???

hows it taste? what's it go for?

camduncan
10-26-2005, 15:45
I'm not sure if it's a 12yo - actually, I can't recall an age statement on the bottle. I'll have a look tonight when I get home.
It retails for about $65au in shops and about $35 duty free from memory..
As for taste, I haven't had any in some months, so can't really offer a good opinion. Maybe I can rectify that this weekend http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

NorCalBoozer
10-26-2005, 16:20
i did a little internet research, it's an 8 y.o. at 100 proof.

Chaz7
10-26-2005, 16:35
great pictures! so is that bonded a 12 y.o. at 100 proof???

hows it taste? what's it go for?


I beleive by law (bonded) it is required to be 100 proof. Am I right on that one?

RedVette
10-26-2005, 16:55
The law is US law, the bottles in the pictures are from Australia. Chances are that it is 100 proof, but there is no guarantee on Export products. We have seen enough 74 proof "Bourbon" to know that export markets are different.

US law also says that Bourbon can't have anything added, and the small batch has Port added. By US law it would have to be whiskey, not Bourbon. It does say, "Bourbon with Port added", but I would guess that would not fly in the US.

Gillman
10-26-2005, 18:16
Excellent chronology and insights. At the taste level, I feel things have dropped off significantly since around 1980. I've tasted Jim Beam White label from that era and it was better then in my humble estimation (more like Black Label is now). Whereas, say, Old Forester 100 proof was and is superb, arguably better than the premium brands of B-F. Wild Turkey, while not the best of the Pernod Ricard whiskies, is I would say better than Beam White Label. The regular Ancient Age (and certainly Buffalo Trace) trumps Beam too, and it goes on.. For a brand which values highly the name Jim Beam, the white label should (in my opinion, again) taste better than it does.

Gary

Edward_call_me_Ed
10-27-2005, 07:31
Hi Gary,
I believe I read somewhere, couldn't say where, that there was a lot of older whiskey in warehouses in the 80's, so the Jim Beam of that time was older than it typically is now. Anyone know for sure? I do know that in the early 90's I drank a lot of White Label here in Japan. At the time I kept an eye out for labels that were all in English and had a fake tax stamp, or maybe it was a real tax stamp,if it had a Japanese label on the back I thought the bourbon wasn't as good. Maybe, just maybe, that bourbon was six or more years old despite what it said on the label.
Ed

Gillman
10-27-2005, 07:35
Good point, Ed, and I now recall Chuck Cowdery has said something similar in the past. But even if so, the 1980 I sampled not that long ago did not remind me even of Black Label today, it seemed better than that. I suppose everything changes a bit over time and we'll never know for sure unless we can do a proper vertical tasting. Based on some decanter tastings I've done at Gazebo events, the 1960's and 70's Beams were very good. These though seemed older than the White Label (usually at least 7 years old and often much more), so I can't say for sure White Label was similar without doing a vertical tasting covering the relevant periods. I can say though that the current White label palate is (in my opinion) a bit disappointing. Chuck describes it well in his book, referring to a "vegetable" taste, and I can't improve on that description.

Gary

Edward_call_me_Ed
10-27-2005, 07:37
Hi Bobby,
Is Booker's a batch bourbon? I know that two of the bottles I have had were single barrels, had the barrel number on it and all that. The one I have open now doesn't have that information. Is it batched or has the label simply been lost or not put on in the first place. Either way, it is top shelf stuff. I have noticed in the past that Booker's with handwritten barrel labels tends to be more expensive than Booker's without one.
Ed

kbuzbee
10-27-2005, 08:49
Hey Ed, the Booker's here has an adhesive label near the neck with the age (in years and months) and the proof on it. It also lists a batch number, not a barrel number. It runs about $50 here in Ohio.

Hope this helps,

Ken

NorCalBoozer
10-27-2005, 10:01
Thanks Chuck, that is really helpful. Wow 40 different Bourbon brands???? that is amazing.

I can understand having the lower end stuff that they wouldn't want to have "Beam" on, but they also produced quite a few decanters with Beam at over 14 years old. Was this older bourbon only used in the decanters? I wasn't born yet so I don't have a reference. Seems like they were good sellers back in the day.




I can provide a little historical context, as well as some strategic marketing context.

Prior to 1987, Jim Beam was pretty much a single brand company. Jim Beam (white label) bourbon was the flagship and the only product that said "Jim Beam" on the label, but just about everything else they sold had "Beam" on the label in some context. Some of these were higher-end products, such as the original "Beam's Black Label," which was an 8-year-old straight bourbon. Some were blends and other cheaper products. They even had a tequila they called "Beamero."

Then, in 1987, they merged with (acquired, really) National Distillers and gained a huge portfolio with brands in just about every distilled spirits segment, including more than 40 different bourbon brands. They spent a lot of time paring that down. I think that experience gave them a healthy regard for out-of-control brand proliferation.

During that period, they also got rid of "Beamero" and the other cats and dogs they sold under the "Beam's" name, since they had any number of old National names to use for any segment they needed to be in. They also held to their strategy of not putting the full "Jim Beam" name on anything except white label. It was a fairly big deal when they came out with "Jim Beam Black Label." So they are very concerned about diluting the brand or confusing consumers about what the brand stands for, which is authentic bourbon whiskey at an affordable price.

The big thing you have to remember is that white label is a high volume, low margin product while the small batch brands are low volume, high margin. The "Jim Beam" brand is in the former business, not the latter. The difference between the two is huge. For about 50 minutes of every hour the two Jim Beam whiskey distilleries are operating, they are making Jim Beam White Label. Everything else is made in the remaining ten minutes.

Edward_call_me_Ed
10-27-2005, 15:25
Same here about the handwritten label, but not always.
Ed

bobbyc
10-27-2005, 15:51
Is Booker's a batch bourbon?



Yes and to illustrate further, they do around 150 barrels at a time, actually I read it was from 100-150, and that would yield a little over 30,000 bottles. I guess there are different definitions of "small".

Edward_call_me_Ed
10-27-2005, 16:03
I just looked at a label and it does say batch not barrel. Also, I don't think it is handwritten, but is printed to look handwritten. Not all bottles have it. I have seen two bottles on the shelf one with one without the little label. The prices were different. I don't know about you but I don't like to pay 30 bucks for a bit of paper....
Ed

cowdery
10-27-2005, 16:40
Booker's is small batch, not single barrel. Beam doesn't offer a single barrel product. "Small batch" means whatever the maker wants it to mean and usually refers to the number of barrels in a bottling batch. Compared to Jim Beam white label, Booker's is Tiny Batch.

This idea Beam pushes that its recipe is unchanged for 210 years is a joke, because Beam (like every other maker) has fiddled with its taste profile over time to suit consumer preferences. When bourbon sales plummeted in the 70s, Beam set out to make white label a mild-tasting, easily mixed whiskey.

Because of the decline in sales and the long bourbon aging cycle, the producers did find themselves with a lot of older whiskey in the 1980s. This led eventually to the creation of extra-aged products, but also many standard bourbons, labeled as 4 years old or without an age statement, contained whiskey twice that age and older.

barturtle
10-27-2005, 17:56
Booker's is small batch, not single barrel. Beam doesn't offer a single barrel product.



Actually Beam does do single barrels, but only for customers willing to buy an entire barrel. Several retailers offer bottles of Knob Creek SB, selected and bottled specifically for them. I also own a bottle of SB Knob Creek that was bottled for a restaurant I used to work for. I had one of these with me this year at the Gazebo. I can't say the the selection process is all that great: they brought out two barrels for us to taste-barrels that they had already tested to make sure it was within the flavor profile of Knob, I'm sure. The best bit was the tour of the distillery proper, given by Fred Noe.

Of course there is basically no evidence other than a small stuck-on label saying "specially selected by..." to prove that it is a single barrel, so I have to trust that Beam actually bottled the barrel we bought and not just stuck on a little label on to a regular batch. If it was my money buying a barrel I'd be willing to go through the label application process to get my own custom label, but that's just me.

matthew0715
10-27-2005, 18:09
...but they also produced quite a few decanters with Beam at over 14 years old. Was this older bourbon only used in the decanters? I wasn't born yet so I don't have a reference. Seems like they were good sellers back in the day.




Are you referring to the Beam 175-month-old bourbon packaged in quite a nice decanter I recently spotted at my local liquor store? They're asking $225 http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif for it, so it won't be coming home with me anytime soon. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Matt

monte
10-28-2005, 00:23
Thanks Chuck, that is really helpful. Wow 40 different Bourbon brands???? that is amazing.

I can understand having the lower end stuff that they wouldn't want to have "Beam" on, but they also produced quite a few decanters with Beam at over 14 years old.



I personally love some of the brands that might be perceived as low end that Beam bought. One of the few I've had the pleasure of tasting is Old Grand Dad, which, when moved to the Beam stills, lost a lot of the flavor and character that the older ND version had.

I'm sipping on some pre-Beam OGD bonded right now and loving it a lot. It's my "go to" bourbon this fall, and it never disappoints, even though I have a pretty well stocked collection of the modern high end stuff.

I would love to try some of the other National Distillers brands, pre Beam, but this part of the country is not really conducive to that sort of thing.

All I know is that this bourbon was distilled with flavor in mind, and it has more of the odd extra congeners that modern whiskey seems to shy away from. For my money, this is the good stuff, and moving the brand to Beam was a downfall.

So, those 40 bourbons involved in the Beam digestion of ND are a real loss IMHO. Even if the brand name (and/or mash formula) was continued, it seems that the elements that made up the flavor of the bourbon were largely lost. Not a good thing!!

From what I see on the Dusty Corners threads, you're in a position to buy some of the old stock from this heyday, as it's scattered about a zillion little stores in your state. If I were you, I'd try to hunt this stuff down and see what it can offer; in my experience, some of the older brands can be quite amazing.


Just my $0.02,

-monte-

NorCalBoozer
10-28-2005, 08:34
there are lots of them on ebay. they come up very often and sell pretty cheap, could easily pick one up for $20-$40 (including shipping) or even cheaper if you're lucky.

just search on 'Beam Decanter' or 'Beam 175'....





Are you referring to the Beam 175-month-old bourbon packaged in quite a nice decanter I recently spotted at my local liquor store? They're asking $225 http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif for it, so it won't be coming home with me anytime soon. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Matt

OscarV
07-02-2006, 04:46
The first picture shows the Jim Beam Bonded on the left with its box to the immediate right of it.
The 2nd picture shows the Jim Beam Small Batch with Port added..

This Jim Beam with Port is interesting.
Did Beam actually add port to the bourbon?
Or did they have some "Distillers Masterpiece, Port Finished" left over that they could not sell and unloaded on the export market?

Oscar

BourbonBalls
07-02-2006, 13:40
This may have been covered here before, but I can't seem to locate it:

What year was the first bottling of Bookers?

cowdery
07-02-2006, 15:45
What year was the first bottling of Bookers?

I may be off slightly on this, but by no more than a year. Booker's Bourbon was a Christmas gift to suppliers and other business associates of the Jim Beam Brands Company for Christmas of 1987. It was released as a product some time in 1988.