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jeff

BOTM, 6/07: Jim Beam Black

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snakster

JBB is what started me on the path of bourbon appreciation. I was drinking margeritas and tequila pretty exclusively, but picked up a bottle of JBB because it included a flask. A funny thing happened, I liked it. Prior to that, the only whiskey I drank was Jack Daniel's.

Ironically (I guess) is that I have not bought another bottle of JBB since that first one. The next bottle I bought was BT (same price in PA basically) and I fell in love. I now drink BT as my regular pour, and expand to more premium brands for variety and I'll buy EC12 for economy (and poker night).

I think with it being BOTM, I may have to return to the beginning (with at least a small bottle) and remind myself where it all began (and see if I still like it as much as I did the first time).

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TNbourbon

I've always loved JB Black's bubble-gum nose (of course, I used to spend my 50-cent allowance on 10 packs of Topps trading cards in order to cop the bubble-gum slabs to chew during Little League games. Boy, does that date me!:bigeyes:). Lovely color -- what I call bourbon-gold. The subtle entry works to its advantage -- I tend to take in a larger-than-usual mouthful (there's almost no sense of alcohol here) before rolling it back on the palate, so I get a full range of flavors all at once: mild black licorice dominates for me, accompanied by some of that bubble-gum flavor and some wood tannins. It's not the most complex flavor set out there, but it's integrated very well. I like it.

Now, I've liked the old 7yo/90 proof, Beam Black 8yo/90, and Beam Black 101-Month even better, but I can live with this at its price point.

Sure, there are 2-3 dozen bourbons I like better, but they're only available here in the house, or at SB.com gatherings. I'd be glad to see this on a commercial back bar.

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Hyperspace

I may have to return to the beginning (with at least a small bottle) and remind myself where it all began

That’s a great idea!!! I think I’m going to visit my beginning also…JBW.

Screw the small bottle however; I’m going for 1.75L! My memory lane is a long trip. :grin: :lol: :grin:

___

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CrispyCritter

JBB is a good solid pour for me - and if I'm traveling and find myself sans bottle in an area with limited selection, it's a go-to.

That being said, I can pick up KC at Costco for just a few bucks more than what I'd pay at Binny's for JBB.

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notyetasmokejumper

Had just finished a bottle of 1792 when I opened a brand new bottle of JBBL. I much prefer the Black to the White. JBBL reminds me of my first "real" car not some polished new SUV or a high performance, high speed low drag sports car of today, or even my grandpa's old polished Caddie. JBBL to me is a long ride in my old 70 Chevelle, windows down, Thin Lizzy blasting out "The boys are back in town." Heading to "The Scotsman" a now defunct drive in place for a Vanilla Coke.

Not a sophisticated pour, nice and caramel-ly (like I prefer) and at a great price point. I dig it.

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ILLfarmboy

I keep a bottle at home for the occasional guest. But I almost never drink any. When I want something Beam (not a very frequent occurrence) I reach for Booker's. It has been remarked many times by different members how JBB resembles Booker's at 86 proof. To my taste they are close but JBB has a certain fruity (overly ripe pears) quality I find a bit distracting.

Curiously, I can't think of any bars or restaurants that stock JBB. If they did I might drink it more often, opting for it instead of other less appealing choices. Knob Creek shows up more often and in places I wouldn't expect it to. I wonder what gives.

I have been meaning to dig out the JBB from the back of the hutch and try an Old Fashioned made with it. The "fruity quality" might make for a good cocktail, but I haven't gotten around to it.

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jburlowski

I have tried this on occasion.. I have not been impressed.

Too many other, better bourbons for a compabable price.

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cowdery

Brad mentioned not seeing JBB in bars. My experience has been different. I see it in bars with some regularity and consider it a welcome option, especially when the only other choices are JBW, JDB and MM. I have nothing against MM but when that's my choice, I usually go with JBB.

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reg

Great shooting whisky. Mixs well with anything. Always in my bar.

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Hyperspace
Brad mentioned not seeing JBB in bars. My experience has been different. I see it in bars with some regularity

I see it in some bars, but not many.

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cowdery

So I'm at a soccer match Saturday evening and as we're entering the stadium, a young woman sticks a bag under my nose and says "free candy."

I don't know about the rest of you, but presented with an open bag and the words "free candy," I still reach in and take one automatically, without hesitation. What I got makes me wonder what else I've been missing. It was a "tamarind flavored soft candy." The "candy" is a paste that is pushed up through a plastic grating, from which it is licked, a whole candy delivery system that is new to me--a dispenser.

It tastes like tamarind, which I know from Chinese food. It was sweet and fruity, plum-like, with a sharp, peppery bite. I didn't care for it.

Today I thought of that candy as I drank some Jim Beam Black, but I don't mean that to sound unflattering. Jim Beam is distinctive for being a very clean spirit, but it still tastes green in the white label incarnation. In the black, all of that greenness is gone. Instead I get plummy sweetness and vanilla, similar to the tamarind candy except without the parts I didn't like.

In a way, Jim Beam Black reminds me of Maker's Mark, because it is perfectly enjoyable to drink, but mostly for being so inoffensive. Both are like bridges between the ordinary or too green whiskeys and the more genuinely top shelf, among which I would include the Small Batch offerings.

In other words, the attributes the product actually delivers are perfectly in tune with its marketplace positioning, a noteworthy accomplishment.

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Sweetmeats

Good post. I agree.

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hokiedave92

On a recent flight to the UK, JBB was the only bourbon on the cart, so I had a couple to put me in the right mood. This was my first sampling, and I thought it was quite good. Smooth with a nice hint of vanilla. Even the lady next to me thought it smelled "lovely".

Dave

p.s. - They did try to foist JD on me, but I wasn't playing along.

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whiskeyhatch
Hmmm,

I tried to order this once, but when I ordered "Beam Black" they poured me a glass of Jack Daniels Single Barrell. I didn't complain :-)

I would love to know where some of you who like it rank this in comparison to Knob Creek and JBW. I've never bought it because in general I don't care for bourbon under 90 proof and Knob Creek is typically around $22 in these parts...

Joel

With Knob Creek in the mix, KC would be a 10. (Absolutely wonderful on its own.) JBBL would be a 5 or 6. (Got ice?) And JBWL would be a doable 3 or 4. (Make sure there's ice!)

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Stu

I opened a new bottle and compared against KC and Bookers. I agree with Chuck that the flavor profile is closer to Bookers than KC. Next I cut the Bookers to the same proof as JBB and discovered something interesting. The flavor profile was very close, but I actually preferred the finish on the JBB. Bookers finish was very slightly astringent with a metallic hint. I know that Bookers is a single barrel, and SBs can vary from barrel to barrel. Has anyone else experienced this, or could it just be the barrel that filled my bottle? Next I compared against

Basil Hayden. World of difference - but then I seem to remember reading that BH is a wheater. My question is: where does Baker's fit in this jumble? I may be weird but I enjoy JBB and Will buy another bottle. I guess I should buy a bottle of JBw to try as well.

Stu

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cowdery

Booker's is not SB.

Basil Hayden is, in effect, Old Grand-Dad, so it has about twice as much rye in it as Jim Beam does, and uses a different yeast.

I've always understood that Jim Beam makes two bourbons, the high-rye one that is OGD and BH, and another that is everything else, which would mean Beam white, Beam black, KC, Baker's and Booker's are all the same whiskey, just at different ages and proofs and with different profiles. However, I have other information that says Beam only has the two different mash bills, but also makes the Beam mash bill with a different yeast and it's that whiskey which they bottle as KC and Baker's, as well as some cats and dogs like Old Crow and Old Taylor, but my authority for the "second yeast" theory is not great.

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ILLfarmboy

...I have other information that says Beam only has the two different mash bills, but also makes the Beam mash bill with a different yeast and it's that whiskey which they bottle as KC and Baker's, as well as some cats and dogs like Old Crow and Old Taylor, but my authority for the "second yeast" theory is not great.

I dug out a bottle of booker's and the neck tag claims "Baker's Bourbon utalizes a special strain of jug yeast that has been in Baker's family for over sixty years"

So, if your "second yeast" theory is correct with respect to those cats and dogs and Knob creek that certainly makes thing interesting. We all seem to agree that Booker's and Beam Black are closer to each other than KC is to either. So, maybe it isn't just age, barrel selection and warehouse location, its the yeast.

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StraightBoston

Haven't checked in for a couple months -- happy to see this choice for BOTM.

Like one of the other posters, the only time I really drink JBB is on United Airlines overseas flights (though I have a bottle on the shelf for my brother-in-law.)

Nonetheless, in my great unpublished bourbon tasting map, Jim Beam Black is my "reference bourbon" -- not because I prefer it over others, but because it is so middle-of-the-road in so many ways. I can compare other pours as more or less oaky, more or less sweet, more or less corn on the nose, more or less burn on the tongue or throat, more or less complex, darker or lighter, etc. (For the price, BT would be my flagship, but it's too far on the "good" side of those characteristics to be a good reference point.)

To those who stay away because Jim Beam White is swill -- there is something in the extra aging that takes the edge off the "spray paint" aromatics in the white label. I've never identified kinship between the Black and the SBC (though I must confess that I find KC and Booker's overrated, Baker's underrated, and BH a whole different beast...)

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TBoner

Agreed that JBB is somewhat middle-of-the-road. It is an excellent reference point for other whiskeys, and a much cheaper way than the mid- and top-shelf stuff to get people interested in bourbon. I have used it in a beer I make in the winter, an Imperial porter with bourbon and vanilla added, because it doesn't have a dominant spicy, or sweet, or oak, or fruit flavor. It's just a balanced whiskey.

This is also an example, unfortunately, of a bourbon that is ruined as soon as you taste previous incarnations. The 101-month version from decades gone by is so outstanding (one of my favorite whiskeys ever - wish I had more than 600 mL left) that it makes the current version look dull. Even the 7 yr/90 proof is a better drink, IMO.

But, I like to keep JBB for mixing on occasion, and as a pour to offer neat either as part of a tasting or as an example of the transition from mid-shelf to top-shelf. Also, my father-in-law loves it, and it's not as high-proof as some others I like (which he won't drink). For $17, it's hard to argue with.

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jeff
Booker's is not SB.

Basil Hayden is, in effect, Old Grand-Dad, so it has about twice as much rye in it as Jim Beam does, and uses a different yeast.

I've always understood that Jim Beam makes two bourbons, the high-rye one that is OGD and BH, and another that is everything else, which would mean Beam white, Beam black, KC, Baker's and Booker's are all the same whiskey, just at different ages and proofs and with different profiles. However, I have other information that says Beam only has the two different mash bills, but also makes the Beam mash bill with a different yeast and it's that whiskey which they bottle as KC and Baker's, as well as some cats and dogs like Old Crow and Old Taylor, but my authority for the "second yeast" theory is not great.

When we took a tour of JB a few years ago, they confirmed that there were only two mashbills, and that JBW, JBB and the Small Batch collection were all of one mashbill, but they said that they altered the operation of the still for the small batch whiskeys. If that's true, then they do pre-determine what whiskey will be a Small Batch, at least to an extent.

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cowdery

Well, I wonder what "altered the operation of the still" means?

When the Small Batch started, they didn't pre-determine. A few years ago they started to, but I am under the impression that is primarily about wood management. In other words, they decide a barrel is going to be Knob Creek, thus aged at least nine years, and they place it in the warehouse accordingly. That doesn't mean the distillate is any different.

That probably was the same tour I was on, a very good one. I don't recall that exact exchange. One thing I recall learning on that tour is that their best whiskey is made at Clermont. What is made at Boston is used only for JBW and the bottom-shelfers like Old Crow.

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Gillman

I would think it means, the still is adjusted so the distilling-out proof is different than for non-Small Batch products. But higher or lower? I would guess the former.

Gary

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Bob O.

A couple pours of JBB. I was at a wedding and it was offered alongside JD and JBW. It's a nice balanced Whiskey...doesn't make me go wow, but pretty good for $16 or so. Much better than the two bottles it was next to. I can only imagine that the older higher proof offerings would have been a bit better. Lets just hope the proof doesn't drop any more.

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blux

Marketview Liquor in Rochester is selling a 1 ltr bottle JBB for $22.99! After reading the postings here, I was already to buy a bottle and try it out. Instead, I spent an extra buck and bought a bottle of Eagle Rare SB 10 (750ml).

Maybe next time.

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Eggman

Howdy,

This is my first post. I've not taken a drink of alcohol since 1979! It was 5 cans of Budweiser in 30 minutes, LOL.

OK, on to JBB. I'm trying to start taking a nip of good Whiskey every night for my health. Seriously. I chose JBB. I poured 2 oz into a glass with chilled bottled water. 4 oz. water, btw.

I could only smell liquor, my experience being nil, compared to all of you. I managed to drink it, but being so accustomed to Diet Coke, it tasted hot and strange. I noticed a burning sensation in my stomach.

I'll maybe try it over crushed ice for tomorrow's nightcap. Sorry for not being more helpful, but I'm learning from all of you.

Eggman

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