Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review - Jim Beam Double Oak

The world's largest selling bourbon brand has announced the addition of a new bottling, which will be exclusive to the travel retail sector - the Jim Beam Double Oak. The new whiskey has been matured in new American white oak barrels for four years before being transferred to second charred oak barrels for a further short maturation, giving greater contact with the wood.  This added interaction gives the whiskey an extra boost of intensity.  The Double Oak is presented in the Beam range's new premium packaging that features embossed glass and textured labeling amongst other things.

The Beam family have a long whiskey heritage, with their first distillery dating back to 1795. This was founded in Washington County, Kentucky by Jacob Boehm.  He was a German immigrant whose surname later became Americanised to Beam. The current distillery was founded in 1933 after Prohibition in the USA and is located in the town of Clermont in the state of Kentucky. It is currently run by the seventh generation of his family headed by Master Distiller Fred Noe.  He is the great grandson of Colonel James B. Beam who gave his name to the famous brand.

“Throughout the decades, we have always enjoyed pushing boundaries and innovating while also staying true to our family’s traditions. The Jim Beam Double Oak is the latest example of this.”
Fred Noe - Master Distiller at Jim Beam.

The Jim Beam Double Oak is bottled at 43% ABV and will launch in European travel retail in July. The price will be £21/€26.50 for a one litre bottle.  Other sizes are expected to be rolled out in selected domestic markets later in 2016.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow with a hint of brown/amber and the nose is full of heady and intense aromas.  There are immediate notes of vanilla, toffee and oaky wood spices.  Underneath are further aromas of bitter orange peel, burnt caramel and cinnamon.

The intensity increases on the palate.  The vibrant oak spices grip the taste buds and creates an instant dryness.  However, this is brief as the sweeter notes then join in to create more balance.  First come the soft and sugary notes - think of fudge, toffee and butterscotch - and then something a bit darker, which is most reminiscent of the slightly burnt caramel from the nose.  Then comes a distinct cereal characteristic, which adds further depth and structure, and some vanilla pod.  There is a late hint of fruitiness including elements of candied orange peel and maraschino cherry in the background.  The heavy oak spices are never far away.

The finish is long and becomes increasingly spicy, especially once the sweet notes begin to fade.  This is especially true of the butterscotch and toffee.  The cereal and wood spice characteristics linger much longer and make the finish grip to your mouth and become impressively dry and warming.

What's the verdict?
The Jim Beam Double Oak is a lovely bourbon but one that in our opinion offers a slight challenge when taken neat.  This is because the extra maturation has made the whiskey very spicy and intense, which some may find too much on its own.

However, it is very nice over ice and ideal in a cocktail - here the exaggerated flavours stand out and compliment the other ingredients, especially the delicious sweetness and drying spiciness.  At the UK launch event they had created a series of cocktails.  Easily the best was a classic Old Fashioned, so we will definitely be attempting that again very soon.


Anonymous said...

Is the second charred oak barrel new oak or refilled oak?

RunDougRun said...

From their website, though not definitive that it's a new barrel...

"Jim Beam® Double Oak is first aged in charred American white oak barrels, then we pour it into another freshly charred barrel..."

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