Jim Beam is the best-selling bourbon whiskey brand in the world so it’s obviously good but there are plenty of people who really really don’t like their products – to put it mildly. I decided to look into all this more closely so that I could add my two cents and here’s what I found.
Jim Beam whiskeys are good as they’re simple, sweet and easy to drink. Some are not suited to being sipped neat, but they are great for mixed drinks, cocktail and shots. I would recommend Jim Beam White Label as the cheapest, Devil’s Cut for being a more intense version and the Single Barrel expressions for being the most flavorful.
In the rest of this article, I’ll go into more detail about each of the 13 current Jim Beam whiskeys to see what they offer, where they go wrong and where they stand compared to each other.
How I Determined Whether Jim Beam Whiskeys Are Good
I didn’t want to present just my own personal opinion about these whiskeys but rather a more general consensus, so I gathered a team of experts (translation: anyone who would help me with this project and who knows a thing or two about whiskey) and amalgamated all our tasting notes. I left out those aromas and flavors that were found by only one person and focused on those experienced by more than one member of the group. Descriptors that appear earlier in the coming lists were detected by more people.
Everyone scored each whiskey out of 100 and I calculated the average.
The notes after each table are my summary of the general consensus and the combined results present a pretty clear picture of these whiskeys.
Here’s what we found:
Jim Beam White Label
- Price: $23.99 approx. for 1L & $30.99 approx. for 1.75L
This is the standard (and original) expression and the one responsible for making Jim Beam the best-selling bourbon whiskey brand in the world. It’s made from corn (at least 51%), rye and malted barley and aged for four years in new, charred, American white oak barrels.
|Nose||Corn, ethanol, peanuts, caramel, sugar, oak, spice, fruit, vanilla, grass, apple|
|Taste||Corn, oak, peanuts, vanilla, ethanol, brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon, nuttiness|
|Finish||Short – medium: Peanut, vanilla, cinnamon, spices|
|Average Score – 61|
Jim Beam White Label is certainly a good whiskey. It’s pleasant and easy to drink with simple, sweet and inoffensive flavors. It can be enjoyed neat but it’s definitely great in mixed drinks (coke and sprite) and cocktails.
Which is why so many people like it and why so many people don’t.
This may sound bizarre but it’s not. The simplicity of this whiskey will make it boring and one dimensional to more experienced whiskey drinkers who want lots of complex flavors in their drink, but it also makes it accessible to a wider number of people – which is how you become the world’s best-selling bourbon whiskey brand.
And the low-cost price helps too. You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam White Label here.
Jim Beam Rye
- Price: $22.99 approx. for 750ml & $39.99 approx. for 1.75L
This is the Jim Beam rye expression. The only difference between it and the White Label is the mash bill which is unknown but obviously, at least 51% rye.
|Nose||Rye, vanilla, caramel, spices, banana|
|Taste||Rye, caramel, vanilla, toffee, spices, fruit|
|Finish||Short: Wood, spices|
|Average Score – 71|
This is also a good, sweet, drinkable whiskey. It’s fairly tame for what’s meant to be a spicier whiskey, but the rye character definitely comes through so it would be great for those who want to get into rye whiskeys by starting with something more mild.
Once again, its simplicity means experienced whiskey drinkers will not want to drink it neat but it’s great for cocktails, especially those that require a spicier whiskey (Sazerac, Manhattan, Old Fashioned) and especially if you want your spicier whiskey to be not too spicy – if you see what I mean.
You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Rye here.
Jim Beam Apple
- Price: $17.99 approx. for 750ml & $26.69 approx. for 1.75L
Jim Beam make several drinks that are not technically whiskeys (due to their lower than 40%ABV and the fact that they contain additives) but a mix of White Label with different flavored liqueurs – in this case apple.
|Taste||Apple, bourbon, honey|
|Finish||Short – medium: Apple|
|Average Score – 64|
As you can see from the table this is an even simpler drink than the White Label. It’s mostly apple flavor but you do get some of the underlying whiskey. You can drink it neat if you like a sweet and apple flavor although for those of us who found it too sweet you may want to add ice, but it’s certainly good as a shot or in a cocktail.
You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Apple here.
Jim Beam Honey
- Price: $23.09 approx. for 1L
This is a combination of Jim Beam White Label and honey liqueur for some honey sweetness.
|Taste||Honey, vanilla, oak|
|Finish||Short – medium: Honey|
|Average Score – 68|
The consensus here was that the whiskey part of this drink is pretty much absent. The honey completely dominates, making this drink smooth and very very sweet. Ice cubes or water will tone down the sweetness if you want to drink this neat, but the rich honey makes it great for mixed drinks and cocktails.
You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Honey here.
Jim Beam Fire
- Price: $17.99 approx. for 750ml
Jim Beam Fire is a combination of White Label and cinnamon liqueur for a more spicy, fiery drink.
|Nose||Cinnamon, bourbon, vanilla|
|Taste||Cinnamon, bourbon, vanilla|
|Finish||Short – medium: Cinnamon|
|Average Score – 69|
As you can see, although the cinnamon does dominate this drink you do get some of the whiskey too. Despite that it has less cinnamon heat than other cinnamon flavored liqueurs so if you want a cinnamon spicy drink that’s somewhat toned down you can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Fire here.
Jim Beam Red Stag
- Price: $18.69 approx. for 750ml & $23.99 approx. for 1L
Jim Beam Red Stag is a combination of White Label and cherry liqueur.
|Finish||Short – medium: Cherry|
|Average Score – 71|
It’s interesting that in some of these whiskey – liqueur combinations there is more balance between the two but in others the liqueur flavor completely dominates the whiskey. In this case it’s the latter as all we could pick up was the cherry and none of the underlying whiskey.
Nevertheless, it is a pleasant and sweet drink. Some found it too sweet but adding some White Label will allow you to adjust the cherry to whiskey ratio to your own taste.
You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Red Stag here.
Jim Beam Vanilla
- Price: $17.84 approx. for 750ml & $28.59 approx. for 1.75L
This is a combination of Jim Beam White Label and vanilla liqueur for more vanilla sweetness.
|Finish||Short – medium: Vanilla|
|Average Score – 65|
As you can see, in this drink, the liqueur dominates the whiskey but that’s not too terrible as vanilla tastes very good. Some of us enjoyed this neat but others found it to be too sweet for that so it will depend on how much vanilla sweetness you like. You do have the option of adding more White Label but there are also plenty of mixed drinks and cocktails this can be used for.
You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Vanilla here.
Jim Beam Peach
- 32.5%ABV (yeah not a typo)
- Price: $17.99 approx. for 750ml & $22.22 approx. for 1L
This is a mix of Jim Beam White Label and peach liqueur for some fresh peach flavors. For some reason it has a lower ABV than all the other whiskey flavored drinks.
|Taste||Peach, bourbon, vanilla, oak|
|Finish||Short – medium: Peach|
|Average Score – 72|
In this drink the peach flavor is not too prominent, and you can taste some of the underlying whiskey. Some of us are not a fan of peach flavors so didn’t really like this drink but if it’s a flavor you’re into you can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Peach here.
Jim Beam Orange
- Price: $16.99 approx. for 750ml & $21.99 approx. for 1L
This is the last of the whiskey flavored drinks, this time combining White Label with orange liqueur.
|Taste||Orange, vanilla, oak|
|Finish||Short – medium: Orange|
|Average Score – 65|
This drink is basically orange and sweet, although some of us found this too sweet while others thought it wasn’t sweet enough. Once again, whether you like it or not will depend on whether you’re into orange flavors and if you are, you can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Orange here.
Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged
- Price: $23.73 approx. for 750ml & $31.49 approx. for 1L
This is Jim Beam White Label that has spent more time aging in the barrel (how much more time is not clear) to improve its flavors. We wanted to see if that worked.
|Nose||Caramel, vanilla, oak, alcohol, brown sugar, spices, corn, honey|
|Taste||Oak, vanilla, caramel, spices, corn, alcohol, honey|
|Finish||Short: Oak, caramel, spices|
|Average Score – 69|
It did. This whiskey certainly has more character and flavor than the White Label, although the improvement still doesn’t make it the complex whiskey that more experienced whiskey drinkers love to drink neat.
Nevertheless, it’s a sweet, easy to drink whiskey for those who want something better yet still simple. You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged here.
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut
- Price: $23.09 approx. for 750ml & $31.99 approx. for 1L
During the aging process some of the whiskey evaporates and some of the whiskey gets trapped deep inside the barrel walls. Since the former is known to whiskey drinkers as the angel’s share, when Jim beam found a way to extract the latter, they decided to call it the devil’s cut.
It’s blended with some extra-aged whiskey and bottled at a higher ABV to make something with extra depth and complexity.
|Nose||Vanilla, peanuts, charred oak, pepper, caramel, sawdust, wood, ethanol, corn, brown sugar, spices|
|Taste||Vanilla, caramel, wood, tannic, corn, char, oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, leather|
|Finish||Short: Oak, vanilla, spices|
|Average Score – 60|
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut is better than the White Label and the Extra-Aged. It’s still not that complex but the flavors are much more intense and the char and oak balance nicely with the regular Jim Beam sweetness. It also has almost no burn for 45%ABV.
It certainly would be good, neat (although obviously not for those who want complex flavors) but also as a mixer since the bold flavors will stand out. The slighter higher price is reasonable since the whiskey is slightly better. You can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Devil’s Cut here.
Jim Beam Double Oak
- Price: $22.99 approx. for 750ml & $32.99 approx. for 1L
Jim Beam Double Oak is first aged in new, charred, American white oak barrels for four years as usual but is then transferred to a second freshly charred, white oak barrel for an unknown amount of time, to give it more intense flavors and a smoother taste.
|Nose||Oak, vanilla, caramel, corn, toffee, leather, nuttiness, cinnamon, grains, ethanol|
|Taste||Oak, vanilla, caramel, corn, peanuts, toffee, fruit, spices, maple|
|Finish||Short – medium: Oak, spices, earthy, bitter, vanilla, caramel, leather, nuttiness, alcohol|
|Average Score – 70|
This is a good, enjoyable, sweet whiskey that’s basically the Jim Beam flavor profile with more oak depth. It’s definitely better than the White Label and the Devil’s Cut which means the double barreling has been a success (although we’re still not at the level of complexity some whiskey drinkers want).
The price for this whiskey is certainly reasonable considering what it is, and you can buy a bottle of Jim Beam Double Oak here.
Jim Beam Single Barrel
- 47.5% – 54%ABV
- Price: $39.19 approx. for 750ml
The expert distillers at Jim Beam select certain barrels that due to various circumstantial factors such as placement in the rack house, the intensity of the season and length of aging, produce a more flavorful whiskey and use them for their Single Barrel expressions. Obviously bottles from different barrels will vary slightly, but here’s what we found in ours.
|Nose||Oak, peanuts, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, cherries, fruit, corn, honey, sawdust, citrus, berries, nuttiness, char|
|Taste||Vanilla, nuttiness, oak, caramel, peanuts, corn, alcohol, citrus, toffee, fruit|
|Finish||Medium – long: Oak, cherry, spices, char, dry, vanilla, nuttiness, pepper, oak|
|Average Score – 81|
This was certainly the best Jim Beam whiskey we tasted. It’s sweeter, smoother and more flavorful than the other expressions with a lot more fruit and spices, and it’s all very well balanced. Yes, it’s still won’t be complex enough for some but if you like the Jim Beam profile then you’ll certainly like this.
It’s more expensive than the others but not by much and considering the improvement it’s certainly worth the price. You can buy one of the Jim Beam Single Barrel expressions here.