Every Standard Bottle Of The Jim Beam Whiskey Line, Ranked

Jim Beam is the world’s best-selling bourbon whiskey. But even with something as ubiquitous and recognizable as a white-label bottle of good ol’ Jim Beam Bourbon, it’s still not a monolith. Jim Beam has eight core straight whiskey expressions under the “Jim Beam” shingle, which is part of the wider James B. Beam Distilling family featuring several different brands of American whiskey, bourbon, and rye. That in turn is then part of Beam Suntory, which is a massive multi-national spirits conglomerate that makes and distributes booze from all over the world.

I’m not here to break down every bottle of whisk(e)y made by Beam Suntory or even every bottle made at the James B. Beam Distillery, that’s a monster project for a later date. I’m here to rank all eight bottles of Jim Beam that you can pick up on pretty much any shelf, nationwide (and internationally), right now.

Look, these bottles are crazy cheap all things considered. It’s 2022 and a good $20 bottle of whiskey is getting a little harder and harder to find these days. What’s amazing about Jim Beam is that you could go to your local liquor store and buy all eight of these bottles and still spend less than what you’d likely pay for a single “premium” expression which, honestly, isn’t going to be that much better. Bourbon might get crazy expensive these days, but there’s a ceiling on how good it can be. Yes, there’s some amazing stuff that costs $200 a bottle. There’s also great juice that costs $20 per bottle (see below).

For this ranking, I’ve adhered to Jim Beam’s main line. I’m not adding in Knob Creek or Booker’s. I’m also leaving out special releases you find at Duty-Free or on international shelves. This is about the Jim Beam that you can actually get everywhere.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months

8. Jim Beam

Jim Beam

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $15

The Whiskey:

This bourbon is made with Beam’s classic low-rye mash bill and special yeast that was pulled from the window seal in James B. Beam’s kitchen back in the 1930s. That heritage is the core of every Beam product. This straight bourbon is aged for four years before the barrels are blended/batched and it’s all cut down to 80 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a classic sense of “bourbon” on the nose with notes of mild caramel, buttered popcorn, peanut brittle, vanilla pudding, mild Cherry Coke, and a dash of apple orchard. The palate largely leans into the nose’s vibe with a deep sense of cherry/vanilla pudding next to candy corn and dry straw. The end is light and short thanks to that proofing water but does carry notes of cherry tobacco, old tobacco leaves, and a hint of dry oak with a sense of maybe some pecan-chocolate clusters lurking in there somewhere.

Bottom Line:

This is basic bourbon at its best. It’s not going to challenge you or linger. But it delivers a classic profile that’s not overly steely or sweet (for a bourbon). It doesn’t feel as cheap as a lot of other bourbons at this price point.

All of that said, this is for shots and mixing highballs. You don’t need to take your timing nosing and rolling it around your mouth to find the nuances — though I’m not stopping you.

7. Jim Beam Repeal Batch

Jim Beam

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

This bourbon was released in 2018 to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. To do so, the team at Beam recreated the first batch of bourbon made by James B. Beam after “our long national nightmare” ended in 1933. The juice is largely the same as the standard Jim Beam White Label with a few tweaks in the distilling, batching, and proofing process. The bourbon was a hit and has become a yearly release from the brand.

Tasting Notes:

Bananas Foster with a lot of vanilla, brown sugar, and butter draws you in next to a vanilla malt with a cherry on top and a touch of caramel drizzle. The palate adds a sweet grits vibe with honey and cinnamon sugar next to a woody sense of apple and pear. The end is full of woody spices over buttery apple pie filling and Cherry Coke with a hint more of that banana, though now it’s more a banana bread with nutmeg, cinnamon, and walnuts.

Bottom Line:

This is a nice step up from the standard Jim Beam White Label thanks to that little bit of higher proof. There’s a tad more fruit and spice at play that makes for a good cocktail or highball base, but we’re still far from neat sipping territory.

6. Jim Beam Devil’s Cut

Jim Beam

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

The “angel’s share” is the distillate that evaporates into the air as the spirit ages. The “devil’s cut” is what’s left in the barrel at the end. For this expression, that “devil’s cut” is a six-year-old Jim Beam that’s batched and proofed down to a sultry 90 proof for bottling.

Tasting Notes:

A hint of that charred oak comes through on the nose with a sense of creamed honey and Bing cherry next to apple skins and maybe some spicy apple cider with a mild sense of vanilla cream and maybe some poppy seeds. The palate is lush like a cream soda spiked with cinnamon-cherry syrup and paired with salted apple chips and dry chewing tobacco with a whisper of old oak. The end leans into the woody spice and tobacco with layers of vanilla husk, cornmeal, and cherry pits with a warming finish.

Bottom Line:

This has a pretty solid throughline of cherry and spice with a touch of wood. It’s not bold but it’s not washed out either. It’s just easy to drink and offers a solid overall flavor profile. I actually don’t mind this on the rocks with a dash of bitters. Though I still mostly use it for basic cocktails.

5. Old Tub

Jim Beam

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

Back in 2020, Beam decided to release this “distillery-only” expression nationwide. The classic Jim Beam juice is a tribute to what the brand was before Prohibition. “Jim Beam” used to be “Old Tub” as a brand back then. Anyway, the juice in this bottle is Beam’s low-rye bourbon that’s batched to comply with Bonded laws, meaning the barrels are from one distilling season, from one distillery and distiller, and bottled at 100 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Milled yellow corn meal with a slightly butterscotch edge mingles with raw honey, vanilla pods, cherry bark, sweet Saigon cinnamon, eggnog, and a hint of sawdust on the nose. The palate has a caramel corn vibe that leads to toffees and Almond Joys next to black cherry tobacco and woody broom bristles. The end has a touch more of that dry sawdust next to spicy cherry tobacco with a hint of apple core and stems, burnt orange, and dry lawn furniture.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the better cocktail whiskeys on the list. Part of that is that the 100 proof is perfect for cocktailing. That said, this does work well on the rocks with a little bitters or a splash of fizzy water.

4. Jim Beam Double Oak

Jim Beam

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

Originally only released on the international market, the expression became so popular that customer demand led to it hitting U.S. shelves a couple of years ago as well. This is standard Jim Beam that’s aged for around four or more years that’s then re-barreled into new oak barrels for another, shorter, rest. Finally, those barrels are batched and proofed for bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a hint of dry firewood sitting in black soil on the nose that leads to more classic Beam notes of cherry vanilla cream soda, dry apple, buttery caramel sauce, and a hint of old oak staves. There’s a sweet sense of creamed honey on cinnamon toast on the palate that leads to singed marshmallows and spiced-cherry tobacco leaves with a hint of cedar lurking behind it. The end has a nice sense of woody vanilla pods and cherry bark next to dark chocolate laced with cinnamon and tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is really nice for a $20 bottle of bourbon. There’s nuance and depth here. It’s on the lighter end, sure. But this isn’t a barrel-proof product. It’s an easy drinker that delivers some good flavor notes for cheap. What else could you want?

Fine, it also makes a nice old fashioned.

3. Jim Beam Rye Pre-Prohibition Style

Jim Beam

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $22

The Whiskey:

This rye was designed by Master Distiller Fred Noe as a return to the bigger and bolder days of rye before Prohibition defanged a lot of the industry and its recipes. The juice is a throwback recipe to the 1920s version of Beam’s rye, giving the whiskey a fruitier and spicer edge in the process. Beyond that, the recipe and details on aging are whispered but not really known.

Tasting Notes:

Tart berries and sourdough apple fritters dusted with cinnamon sugar mingle on the nose with a sense of candied cherry and lemon pepper. The palate opens with a lush vanilla base next to butter toffee before a hint of rye bread crust leads to a whisper of black pepper and caraway with a twinge or star anise. The end pops with sweet floral honey next to salted black licorice and mint chocolate chip with a hint of dry sage and plum pudding.

Bottom Line:

This punches so far above its price point that it’s almost unbelievable. It’s not mind-blowing rye whiskey but it’s damn good rye whiskey. It also makes a solid Manhattan or Sazerac.

2. Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged

Jim Beam

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $19

The Whiskey:

This expression replaced the old Jim Beam Black Label 8 Year, which was a huge favorite amongst the old-school Beam heads. The whiskey in this bottle is aged longer than your average four-year-old Beam, but there is no age statement on exactly how long. I’ve heard things, but only rumors. The best way to think of it is that it’s aged for as long as it needs to be before batching, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

A clear sense of expensive vanilla beans next to apple cotton candy, honey-buttered cornbread, soft oak staves, and Dr. Brown’s Cherry work through the nose. The taste has a hint of sourdough apple-cinnamon old-fashioned doughnuts next to vanilla pound cake with a hint of poppy seed and orange zest, a whisper of clove and anise, and a smidge of pecan pie. The end has a dried vanilla tobacco vibe by way of spiced apple cider and old cinnamon sticks next to a hint of raisins and bruised peach skins.

Bottom Line:

This is another bottle that has no business only costing $20. Beam could easily charge $30 or $40 for this and I doubt anyone would bat an eye. Not that I want that to happen, that’s just commentary on where bourbon whiskey is in 2022.

I also know from experience that this is what Fred Noe, Beam’s legendary Master Distiller, drinks at home. If it’s good enough for someone at that level of whiskey, it’s good enough for everyone.

1. Jim Beam Single Barrel

Jim Beam Single Barrel
Beam Suntory

ABV: 54%

Average Price: $24

The Whiskey:

Each of these Jim Beam bottlings is pulled from single barrels that hit just the right spot of taste, texture, and drinkability, according to the master distillers at Beam. That means this juice is pulled from less than one percent of all barrels in Beam’s warehouses, making this a very special bottle at a bafflingly affordable price.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with classic notes of vanilla sheet cake, salted caramel, wintry mulled wine spices, and a sense of cherry pie in a lard crust next to a hint of dried corn husk, old broom bristle, and dark chocolate pipe tobacco. The palate layers in floral honey and orange zest next to sticky toffee pudding, old leather, and cherry tobacco layered with the dark chocolate with this lingering sense of coconut cream pie lurking somewhere in the background. The finish leans into more woody winter spices (especially cinnamon bark and nutmeg) with rich toffee and that cherry-chocolate tobacco braided with dry sweetgrass and cedar bark.

Bottom Line:

This is the high water mark of Jim Beam. Again, this is bafflingly affordable for a single barrel bourbon whiskey in 2022. It’s not perfect or life-changing, but it tastes great and goes down easily while delivering an actually deep flavor profile.

It’s great on the rocks, in cocktails, and even offers some fun neat in a Glencairn as a slow sipper.

×