Whiskey Name: Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 years old
Distillery: Jim Beam
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Release Date: General release
Mashbill: 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley
Introduction/Background: The non-limited entity in the Jim Beam Signature Craft series. Doesn’t seem to get the same quantity of online chatter as, say, Eagle Rare 10 or Elijah Craig 12. I wonder whether that’s because of the ubiquity of the Jim Beam name. Certainly the Beam products most talked about online tend to be those without “Beam” in their title.
In any case, a 12 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the biggest player in the state for less than £40. Surely worth investigating?
Appearance: Rather light for the age. Copper.
Nose: Very fruity. Strawberries and jelly sweets. Rounded; obviously there’s no blast of alcohol at 12 years old and 43%. A dab of sawn wood reminds you of the age, then back we head to the sweet juicy thing. It actually reminds me just a little of the Wild Turkey 13’s nose; another from the light, summery school of aged bourbon.
Mouth: Palate shows a little more overt wood and spice. Dryer, certainly, though still with that hint of strawberry laces. Takes a turn for the nutty; toffee-coated cashews perhaps. A touch of bitterness – perhaps a smidgen more oak than a bourbon of this weight can fully cope with. More flavour than proof would suggest, but an understandably light body.
Finish: Those cashew nuts seem to persist.
Value for Money: Very reasonable.
Summary: Not perfect, and certain to be a little light for many a bourbon drinker. For me, the nose was ahead of the palate. However, I was quite pleasantly surprised. A lot of newcomers to neat spirits can be put off by heavy booze; it’s easy to forget, when one has become accustomed to cask strength kit, that there was a time when all but the lower proofs would cause fire and gasping.
For that reason I think that Jim Beam 12 is an important bourbon. It’s a clear step up from white label, Devil’s Cask and Double oaked, occupies a different point on the flavour map to Elijah Craig or Eagle Rare, and offers a lot of accessible, attractive fruit and demonstrable maturity for a very reasonable sum.
Overall Verdict: A tasty, useful bourbon for converting friends to the cause. Perhaps a little simple for those who have already put the long yards in.
Words by WhiskyPigrim