Well, finally grabbed a 200ml Jim Beam white 7yo today, so can compare the two white labels.
First, the differences:
- 4 has a some fresh corn husk in both the nose and palate, while it almost has disappeared by 7;
- 'refinement' -- there's quite a difference in the general flavor sense, with the 4 almost 'raw' (very little flavor till the finish, then almost exclusively corn), while the 7 is less like white dog and more like bourbon, with a progression across the tongue from entry to full flavor to finish;
- both noses suggest cinnamon/Red Hots, but only the 7 manifests the flavors to any significance;
- The 7 has a little finish, while the 4 is extremely short.
- corniness and cinnamon in nose and flavor (though, as noted above, to reversed degrees);
- almost identical color.
Neither offends, but the 4yo is so innocuous that it can't be intended for anything other than mixing and 'easy-drinking' patrons. The 7yo, on the other hand, is really quite simply enjoyable. Granted, it's not going to wow anyone's socks off, or win face-offs with the barrel-proofs, et al, but there's nothing there to put anyone off, either. I might just consider picking up a 750ml bottle as a household 'well' bourbon.
Now, as it happens, I have a third 80-proof Beam bourbon open -- a 4/5-quart from 1975 that is 180 months (15 years) old. This is lovely bourbon. All those years in wood have added the expected maple/caramel- and vanilla-like flavors, but it also presages today's corn-husk/cinnamon motif. I doubt that I would recognize it as Jim Beam today because of its richness, but tasted beside the others tonight, its relation to them seems apparent. You might be able to dilute today's Baker's, for example, to 80 proof and have something very like this.