I love doing whiskey reviews but I get so few whiskey’s in for review. This week I have the privilege of testing Jim Beam‘s 4-Year Old (white label) and seeing how it stacks up to my palate. It poured a very light amber/orange something close to polished copper in tone which I can clearly see-through.
For those that don’t already know, this Jim Beam is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and reads, “The World’s Finest Bourbon” on the label all arriving at a 40% ABV. There are other varieties to the bourbon so knowing some of the key elements and label color makes a big difference. You’ll also find the age on the back under the UPC, so you can tell it from the 7-year old white label which looks virtually the same (with a slightly golder liquid).
The nose is quite obvious to me: Sweet oak, light brown sugar, a bit of organic cherry notes with super subtle cinnamon. A second attempt at nosing the glass gives me the defined vanilla, something that usually comes along with the oak and some slightly burnt caramel.
The nose and taste have a lot in common, lots of creamy oaks with hints of black cherry, caramel, butter and a bright burn around the mid-palate with a finish that leaves behind a bit of wood and light burn. Unfortunately the finish begins with a slight sourness before it mellows out and end; it’s just not as “clean” as I was hoping from a Bourbon Whiskey. I’d not classify Jim Beam 4-Year as smooth, but it does hold a good weight if not a bit rougher around the edges.
It should also be noted that I start all my initial reviews of whiskey at room temperature without ice, and just a dash of water. I let the bourbon sit for about five minutes before beginning. I then dropped in two cubes of ice and swirled it around, let it sit for another five minutes and tried again.
On ice, you’re getting much more charred oak but the nose diminishes to almost nothing but caramel and sweet oak. I enjoyed the aroma prior to adding ice but the taste is much lighter, taking on a more smooth texture with a very light burn on the finish. Again, icing down Jim Beam 4-Year really kills off some of the flavors but does make it a bit better in texture.
I can see Jim Beam working well in a cocktail that needs to bring some caramel and oak to the party. Is this the best Bourbon in the world? No, not even close to the best bourbon but to it is probably one of the best bourbons for the price. You’ll find yourself spending between USD $10 and USD $15 for a bottle of Jim Beam 4-Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon and that’s a hugely desirable price tag.
I never expect to spend around $13 and get a superb sipping experience because, if the spirit is that good, they’ll raise the price to meet people’s expectations. What you’re getting in Jim Beam 4-Year Old is a versatile low-cost bourbon for mixing drinks and socializing with friends. Don’t forget, Jim Beam makes other products that will cost you a bit more and presumably bring a more complex tasting experience.