As I state in my Statement of Ethics if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Jim Beam for providing this sample to me with no strings attached.
There are times when more of the same is all that is called for. I’ll occasionally have myself a bratwurst for supper. And when that happens, someone inevitably asks me “what do you want with it?” My normal answer is “ another brat.” You see, I feel that there are some things in life that are good enough to just do again right away. A good bratwurst is one of them.
Apparently Jim Beam knows the feeling I’m talking about. This September they are going to be releasing a barrel-finished bourbon called Jim Beam Double Oak. A barrel-finished bourbon that is finished in a second new, charred oak barrel. Bourbon gets most of its flavor from the new, charred oak barrels it ages in and I like the fact that if Beam is going to barrel finish their bourbon that they do it with more of what makes bourbon taste so good in the first place.
So why is this different than just leaving it in the barrel longer? As we’ve discussed in the past, there are multiple things that happen when you put distillate into a barrel. The one that we are concerned with today is infusion. Let’s think of this like we were making tea. When you first dunk your tea bag into the cup of water, a lot of color is extracted right away. It takes a little while longer to get the optimum flavor, but if you leave it in there too long you will get some of the compounds that take longer to dissolve that do not taste quite as good. But say you want a tea with more “tea flavor.” You could leave your tea bag to steep longer or you could grab a fresh tea bag and do a second infusion.
That’s basically what Beam is doing here. They are putting four year old bourbon (that would otherwise be going to Jim Beam white label) and giving it a second boost of the quickly dissolved sweet oak flavors without needing to worry about it getting as bitterly tannic or “woody” as they might if they just left it in the barrel longer.
Jim Beam has put out expressions before that amp up the wood influence in both Jim Beam Black and Devil’s Cut. Each uses a different method to do this. Black is just left in the barrel longer and Devil’s Cut uses water during a special process to leach the bourbon that had been trapped in wood of the barrel. They then cut the bourbon with that woody bourbon water instead of plain non-woody water.
Because of this I wanted to see how this upcoming release would stack up next to their two previous tries. I bought a pint of Devil’s Cut and pulled one of the samples of Beam Black out of my sample library. What I found backed up what I had expected based on the process above. The Double Oak had a nicer mouthfeel and was sweeter than the Black. The black was drier. I found the Double Oak to have a spicier and more flavorful finish. I’m assuming due to the increased proof. The Devil’s Cut was very similar to the Double Oak in flavor but I found the Double Oak to have a nicer mouthfeel. Once again, I’m guessing that proof had something to do with the relative finishes since Devil’s Cut is a higher proof and had a spicier and longer finish.
Jim Beam Double Oak Twice Barreled
Purchase Info: PR Sample provided by Beam’s PR folks. They didn't supply a price point, but I see other sites claiming it’ll be in the mid to low $20s.
Details: 43% ABV
Nose: Just like the inside of a Beam warehouse: dusty oak. I also get green apples and wet rock.
Mouth: Nice thick mouthfeel. Spicy with nice heat. Earthy honey, cinnamon, oak and touches of brown sugar.
Finish: Of a decent length with lingering oak and cinnamon red hot candies.
Thoughts: I seldom find a Jim Beam branded product that I can honestly say I like. I love Knob Creek, but when it gets into a lower age and proof range it normally doesn’t line up with my palate. I fully expected the same here. So it was with some surprise that I found myself reaching for this over some of the other choices on my shelf. In fact, you’ll notice the bottle above is empty. It still tastes like a Jim Beam bourbon, but this one is working for me.
My wife really liked it and though I liked it a bit less than her I found it quite enjoyable as well and will have no problem picking up a bottle of this when it hits store shelves. If you are a Jim Beam fan, this is an easy recommendation but even if you aren’t see if you can’t find a bar that has it, give it a try and see what you think.
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