Tasting Notes From A New York International Spirits Competition’s Double Gold Winning Bourbon

We’re deep into spirits award season and the accolades continue to drop. This week, the Internation Beverage Competitions — which runs spirits, beer, and wine competitions in Berlin, Melbourne, New York, and Hong Kong — just dropped their list of 2020 winners from the New York slate of spirits. All told 42 spirits across eight categories were awarded the coveted “Double Gold” this year. While there were a lot of favorites in the mix (shout out to Uncle Nearest), Jim Beam Single Barrel also popped up in the Double Gold winner’s list. We dig it.

Jim Beam often gets overlooked for being too big a brand with too many expressions. That’s a shame. Standard Jim Beam is solid workhorse bourbon to have on your shelf. Their rye is a delight. And their single barrel is a damn fine bourbon at one of the most accessible price points for any single barrel bourbon out there.

This is a bottle you should have on hand. Let’s break down why with our tasting notes.

Jim Beam Single Barrel

Jim Beam

ABV: 47.5%
Distillery: Jim Beam, Clermont, KY (Beam Suntory)
Average Price: $35

The Whiskey:

A classic mash of corn, rye, and malted barley is the base of this bourbon. Where this expression veers from the inexpensive standard most people know is the aging that goes into this dram. While standard Jim Beam is aged for around four years, this single barrel expression goes as long as it needs (though there’s no age statement).

The barrels are hand-selected by Jim Beam’s head distiller when those barrels hit just the right point of both look and taste. That means that less than one percent of the barrels in the Jim Beam rickhouses are used in this expression.

Tasting Notes:

This is a classic bourbon in every sense. The nose opens with a clear note of oily vanilla pods next to campfire embers spitting wisps of smoke. Fairground kettle corn dripping in caramel and crisp, tart apples mingle with heavily charred oak with an orange zest edge and ground dark spices. That spiciness edges into pepper territory as a billow of dark chocolate powder comes in on the end, especially with a few drops of water. The sip tends to fade away at just the right pace as your body warms and senses come alive.

Bottom Line:

I tend to keep this on hand to pour after dinners with a single rock. People are always pleasantly surprised when I tell them it’s just Jim Beam. And, at around $35 a bottle, you can actually keep this one stocked.