Okay, so the Lions lost a heart breaker yesterday, winter weather finally arrived just in time to mess up your Monday morning commute, and it’s also the first work day of the New Year for many of you. Let’s face it – you could use some good news, right? Right! It just so happens that I have some for you, and it comes in the form of two Jim Beam products that are new to the Michigan market.
The first is their latest release (third overall) in the Signature Craft line, which is called Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask. It may be a mouth full, but I wouldn’t write it off as it is a fairly new idea in the Bourbon market. This blended product all starts with the flagship Jim Beam aged a minimum of 4 years, which is then blended with a number of other Straight Bourbons. Each of these additional Bourbons go through the normal aging process, then are finished or re-aged in smaller barrels (“quarter casks”) for a minimum of another 4 years. By using the smaller casks, it allows each Bourbon to have a drastically different taste profile due to the variations in surface area of the staves that the liquid is exposed to compared to the internal volume. Generally speaking, the smaller the barrel the more of an oak flavor the Bourbon will acquire over a shorter period of time. In this case, since Jim Beam has used multiple sizes of smaller casks, some new and some used, and presumably stored them in different methods for different periods of time, it gives them a wide range of flavor profiles to blend. Think Four Roses (which is a blend of 10 unique Bourbons), but with a wider range of flavors available to choose from prior to blending. At a state minimum price of $39.99 for a 750 mL bottle of this 86 proof blended Bourbon, it may be worth trying this for the new concept alone.
The second new product is Jim Beam Bonded. “Bonded” or “Bottled in Bond” is a special label that means that the Bourbon is aged and bottled under the supervision of the U.S. Government. This was the way all U.S. liquor was produced in the pre-prohibition era, but the rules have since loosened up. To qualify to use this label today, as always, the liquor must be aged in a Government supervised warehouse for a minimum of 4 years, and then bottled at 100 proof. Accordingly, this is essentially your standard Jim Beam “white label,” but bottled at 100 proof instead of 80 proof. If you enjoy stronger Bourbons it may be worth picking up a bottle, and at a minimum price of $24.99 for a 750 mL bottle it is the same price per alcohol content as the 80 proof offering.