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Don't Know What You Got: Jim Beam Rye

Posted on by Eric Burke

For a while after moving to Minnesota, I worked as a camera salesman at Circuit City, a big box electronic store. I worked there part-time for a little extra money during the fall and into the holidays. It was an ok job as part-time retail jobs go, but once I was offered a full-time position as a designer at a local ad agency, I left that job behind as quickly as I could.

Being a dedicated Amazon shopper, I didn’t really think about Circuit City again until I heard it was closing a few years later. By this point, I had moved on to yet another design job, but still sort of fondly remembered the time I spent there helping people to pick out gifts for their kids or parents. So I decided to stop in one more time before they were gone for good. The store was having a liquidation sale by this point, selling everything off the shelves for deep discounts and then selling the shelves. In a wonderful example of Minnesotan passive-aggressiveness, the store’s music system was playing Cinderella’s Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) on an endless loop. 

I was a little sad to see it go, until I realized that the reason it was leaving was that it really wasn’t very good. Nobody went there anymore because there really was no reason to do so. Even the deeply discounted items were more expensive than Amazon’s regular price. So after spending a few minutes looking around, I left. I go to that building all the time now. It’s a Trader Joe’s and a Total Wine and it’s a block from where I work.

Recently it was announced that Jim Beam Rye (the yellow labeled one) was being discontinued. It was going to be replaced by Jim Beam Pre-Prohibition Style Rye. According to BeamSuntory PR, this is basically a new label and a higher proof. 

Now, I never thought much about Jim Beam Rye. It was always there, in it’s faded looking yellow bottle. But I never really thought much about picking up a bottle. Once in a while I’d order it at a bar, but only if there wasn’t anything better. 

It was relatively cheap. I liked other stuff better. And there we stood…until the discontinuation announcement. Suddenly I wanted to buy a bottle “for old times’ sake.” I drank that first pour and then I remembered why I never really wanted to buy it. It wasn’t very good. My guess is there weren’t a lot of people buying it because there was no reason to do so. People who knew better, knew better and those that didn’t wanted something that cost more and and came in a pretty bottle. 

So don’t be sad that it's going away. Be happy that the repackaging comes with a proof bump, a name change and even a prettier bottle.

Jim Beam Rye (yellow label)

Purchase Info: $17.99, 750 mL, Total Wine & More, Burnsville, MN

Details: 40% ABV

Nose: pencil shavings, spearmint leaves, chamomile

Mouth: Thin. Grassy. Chamomile and mint with just a hint of a burn.

Finish: Slight lingering tingle in the mouth that fades quickly to be replaced by chamomile and a slight bitterness.

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Thoughts: Meh. Just meh. It isn’t bad. In fact, if you love chamomile tea, you may love this. But much like chamomile, it isn’t very interesting and might even help you to sleep.


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