Not entirely unlike snowflakes, every bourbon barrel is different. Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon celebrates the individuality of each barrel and the flavours that they produce. It has the caramel, vanilla and oak notes that Jim Beam are known for, alongside unique, spicy flavours.
The Single Barrel Bourbon is bottled at its natural colour, a mellow gold, without the addition of caramel. The pour is quite easy, which is a slight drawback for Scotch, but is to be expected with a bourbon, and the nose is one of honey, vanilla, and spice.
The nose on this bourbon is very inviting. It’s creamy and crisp, but also comes with some nice fruit flavours. The honey is certainly present and it’s a very pleasant nose.
As for the taste, I detect some caramel and honey as well as some apple. Surprisingly, there is quite a good bit of wood here. The finish is the best part and it is long and quite spicy.
Adding a bit of water helps balance and make the taste a bit bolder. It allows the whisky to open up and reveals additional flavours. The addition of water also helps to release the spices.
The best place to try Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon is at the Jim Beam Distillery. Of course, I didn’t have an opportunity to head to Kentucky for a tour. However, when I find one, rest assured that I may be one of the inebriated participants on YouTube.
For the time being, I can instead tell you that the Jim Beam distillery tour is stellar. The tour is very well guided and also very informative. I would suggest that you book online as the tours book up quickly.
The High West American Prairie Bourbon has quite a rich and peaty nose. The initial whiff is of the American oak, which is also partly charred. I can also sense the vanilla and caramel notes, but they seem to be lying underneath the peat. There’s also a floral, herbal character.
As far as the taste, I get some fruit and herbs at the beginning. There is some honey and caramel sweetness, but it is also very earthy and fairly dry. Again, the dry wood flavour is present and it is fairly strong. It is also has an earthy, herbal flavour.
It is not a bad whisky, nor is it great. If, however, you enjoy peaty whiskys, you will no doubt enjoy this one.
The woody, almost olive-like flavour in the background was a surprise and the caramel sweetness was quite nice. With a bit of air, however, the flavours seemed to fall flat.
Fruit and floral aromas. There is a musty, earthy quality to the scent. Also a hint of sweetness. The sweetness is also a nice bit of sugar.
The taste is somewhat bitter, with a bit of anise and black licorice. There are also some flavours of toffee and caramel. The fruit is present, but not particularly strong. The sweetness is constant and prominent.
The finish is quite long with a fairly strong burst of fruity notes. The sweetness remains throughout and is quite evident.
Adding a bit of water really allows the flavours, both the good and the bad, to open up. The bitterness and the black licorice notes become much more prominent. The caramel sweetness is still quite prominent.
The Jim Beam Single Barrel is not an exhaustive list of bourbons. If you’re so inclined, please leave your favourite in the comments section below. While it is true that my taste is honed to whisky, and that bourbon is my favourite, the advice I can give you is the same:
Always enjoy whiskey neat
Adding water will either smooth out a drink, or will reveal more nuanced flavours. However, you do so at your own peril.