The Jim Beam Choice review
Company: Jim Beam
Age: 5 years
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley
Price: c. £25 (When bought in 2016)
As you’ve come to love and expect from the Gents, we are always down with the kids and try to be first with reviews of those must have bourbons. So in time honoured fashion, we thought we’d review Jim Beam Choice. Mr Pie locked himself away in his study and began the quest of finding all those interesting facts, points of interest and reasons why you must seek out this whiskey. A short time later, “no, no, no!” was the cry! Mr Pie immediately phones Mav.
Mav - “Hey”
Mr Pie – “Hello Mav”
Mav – “You sound weird, what’s up?”
Mr Pie – “You know that Jim Beam bourbon we’re reviewing?”
Mav – “What, you mean Jim Beam Choice?”
Mr Pie – “Yep, that’s the badger. Guess what? You can’t buy the bloody thing anywhere. It’s no longer made”
Mav – “You are joking. What’s the point of the review now then if our readers can’t buy it?”
Mr Pie – “You know why Mav. We do it for our fans. If we don’t write regular reviews, they get upset. We simply have to deliver what the public wants, time after time. The backlash would be hard to take”
Mav – “OK, well let’s hope we don’t give it a good score then and recommend to everyone they have to to try it!”
Mr Pie – *Makes a gulping noise and hangs up*
Jim Beam Choice was first made available in 1957 and survived the cut for 60 years until it ceased production around 2017. Originally known as Beam Choice and made from an old family recipe, it was one of their distillers favourite bourbons, hence the name - Choice.
Over the years it has been different ages and different proofs but the final version made was 5 years of age and at the minimum alcohol by volume figure of 40%. It is the same mash bill as the regular Jim Beam White Label but aged for a year longer. Not very original so far you might think, but here’s the curve-ball, after the whiskey is dumped from the barrel it is then charcoal filtered to produce an allegedly smoother, creamier and some have said a delicious smoky aftertaste. Let’s see how the Gents found this unusual bourbon.
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – If it is ever possible for anything to smell dry then this is it. Aromas of oak, mint and apple but overall the nose is quite weak. Mav noted that it is perhaps unsurprisingly similar to Jack Daniels and very unbourbon like. Mr Pie also found smoky charcoal. The nose is not inoffensive nor is it particularly interesting
What they say we should get - Soft vanilla and caramel with a muted hot pepper note. Some slight nutmeg spice
What we got – A pleasantly warming whiskey to begin with. Burnt wood, dry oak, traces of caramel with lots of white pepper. Mr Pie found it a little too astringent for his liking
What they say we should get - Very soft mouth feel, much more so than white label. The flavour develops quite quickly through the caramel and pepper found on the nose through to a vanilla custard note with cherries and faint orange
What we got – Sweet caramel but a very short finish and not particularly rewarding
What they say we should get - Short and sweet with prominent vanilla and maraschino
Now the obvious assumption with Jim Beam Choice is that it is (or was) their very own version of Jack Daniels, but there is one very clear difference. The charcoal filtering of the whiskey for Jack Daniels is run before it hits the barrels for ageing, whereas for Jim Beam Choice this process happens after barrel ageing. We are not too sure why the whiskey needed to be aged for a full 5 years as we can’t imagine it has made a huge difference to the profile compared to the standard Jim Beam 4 year old but their distillers have without doubt forgotten more about whiskey distilling than we will ever know.
Scoring a whiskey which cannot be found in the stores seems almost seems pointless, but both scores we have given are lower than average. The charcoal filtering process just does not deliver anything towards our preferred flavour profiles. Saying that, if you do find this bourbon out there in whiskey land, then you simply have to buy it, not only for its unique attributes, very distinct taste but for its sheer rarity.
4 out of 10 - Mav
4 out of 10 – Mr. Pie