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Every Whiskey Brand From The Jim Beam Distillery, Ranked

Jim Beam’s American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky is a cornerstone of Kentucky bourbon and American whiskey in general. The distillery is where the world’s best-selling bourbon is made, Jim Beam. But like the Buffalo Trace Distillery down the road, Jim Beam’s Clermont campus doesn’t only make Jim Beam. Nine brands are pulled from the stills and rickhouses in Clermont.

Today, we’re going to rank all nine brands and call out the one bottle from each brand that’s worth investing your time and money in. We’re not going into the wider world of the Beam Suntory multinational conglomerate just yet. That includes dozens and dozens of brands spread out all over the globe. We’re also not including Maker’s Mark on this list. Although the brand is owned by Beam, it’s still made at their own facility in Loretto, Kentucky. This is all about the Beam juice that’s made in Clermont.

If any of these bottles pique your interest, click on the prices to give them a try yourself. Okay, let’s dig in!

9. Old Crow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Beam Suntory

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $13 (1-liter bottle)

The Whiskey:

This is a classic bourbon that became part of Jim Beam about 30-odd years ago. Until then, it was famed for being the drink of choice of President Grant back in the 1870s, which gave it a lot to hang its hat on, as a brand. The juice in the bottle is a year younger than a typical Jim Beam bourbon but still holds up to any other bottle in this price range.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a bit of sweetness on the opening that’s very reminiscent of Beam while leaning into caramel and vanilla. An undercurrent of popcorn draws the sweetness back. The body of the sip is hot and not for the faint of heart while touching on caramel apples, more popcorn, and plenty of that vanilla.

The end is shortish, hot, and has a slight salted and buttered popcorn flourish.

Bottom Line:

The nickname for this bourbon is “rotgut.” Need we say more? (Okay, we will — it’s a mixer and a budget one at that.)

8. Old Grand-Dad — Bonded Old Grand-Dad

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $22

The Whiskey:

The juice is made with a mash bill of 27 percent rye, offering a very clear picture of what that grain can bring to bourbon. The whiskey is then aged for at least four years in a bonded warehouse and bottled at 50 percent, which lets a bit more of the aged juice shine in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of green spice counterpointed by a creamy vanilla pudding with a touch of brown sugar and spices. There’s an orange blossom floral/fruity nature that sharpens to an orange oil cut with Christmas spices, which leads towards more of that vanilla pudding with a touch of oak. The finish leans into the vanilla, green pepper, dark spices, fruit, and oak as a final note of corn arrives to remind you this is bourbon and not rye.

Bottom Line:

This is the most nuanced Old Grand-Dad by far. Still, this is a mixer more than anything else. That being said, no one’s going to stop you from shooting this one with a beer back.

7. Old Overholt — Old Overholt Bonded

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $28

The Whiskey:

This rye hails from the Pennsylvania rye traditions of the early 1800s. The brand was moved to Kentucky almost 200 years later thanks to Beam. The juice in the bottle is a bit of an enigma since Beam doesn’t disclose the mash bill (a rarity for them). It is aged for four years and bottled at 100 proof per bottled-in-bond laws.

Tasting Notes:

This leans a bit more towards a high-rye bourbon than an out-and-out rye whiskey, with hints of vanilla, dry oak, and sweet corn. The taste really leans into the vanilla with a creamy pudding vibe leading towards salted caramel, more dry wood, roasted almonds, and a final spurt of heavy spice with a grassy edge. The finish stays dry and nutty as the spiciness stays more woody than peppery with a green edge to it.

Bottom Line:

This is a nice and fairly unique rye. The thing is, there’s not a lot of depth to any of this, and it really feels like a mixer more than anything else.

6. Legent Bourbon

Beam Suntory

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This bottle from Beam Suntory marries Kentucky Bourbon, California wine, and Japanese whisky blending in one bottle. Legent is classic Kentucky bourbon made by bourbon legend Fred Noe at Beam that’s finished in both French oak that held red wine and Spanish sherry casks. The juice is then blended by whisky blending legend Shinji Fukuyo.

Tasting Notes:

Plummy puddings with hints of nuts mingle with vinous berries, oaky spice, and a good dose of vanilla and toffee on the nose. The palate expands on the spice with more barky cinnamon and dusting of nutmeg while the oak becomes sweeter and the fruit becomes dried and sweet. The finish is jammy-yet-light with plenty of fruit, spice, and oak lingering on the senses.

Bottom Line:

This is where we break into true workhorse whiskey territory. This is a great cocktail base that also works perfectly well as an on the rocks sipper. It’s deeply flavored while also being soft and accessible to a passive whiskey drinker.

5. Basil Hayden’s — Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Rye

Beam Suntory

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $78

The Whiskey:

This is Beam’s high-end brand and their high-end rye within that brand. The barrels are the ones that made it to ten years and hit just the right marks of flavor and texture to be batched, proofed down to a very accessible 80 proof, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The result of the ten years of maturation is a softening of the spicy rye, giving this offering a much richer, more approachable flavor. Before you even take a sip, you’re met with aromas of peppery rye, subtle toasted oak, and lingering vanilla. The sip leads you into a symphony of sweet toffee, rich caramel, and warming rye spice. It’s all finished with a flourish of warming cinnamon and smoky dark chocolate.

Bottom Line:

Basil Hayden’s is a great line of whiskey. The one drawback is that all the bottles are only 80 proof or 40 percent ABV. That makes them very easy to drink, but sometimes they can feel a bit shallow.

4. Baker’s — Baker’s Single Barrel Minimum 7 Year

Beam Suntory

ABV: 53.5%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

This is a newish release from Beam’s high-end line. It’s also the first single barrel release from Baker’s, which intends to phase out its small-batch expressions in favor of this bottle. The juice comes from hand-selected barrels from specific spots in the Beam warehouses, with whiskey that’s at least seven years old. In this case, we’re talking an eight-year-and-seven-month-old barrel.

Tasting Notes:

This is so different than the last sip that it’s jarring — in a good way. There’s a big note of holiday spices with a rich and creamy vanilla backbone next to soft leather and a touch of old cellar beams. There’s a whisper of vanilla pound cake next to wet apple tobacco. The taste then veers towards savory herbs with a nod towards rosemary stems and … maybe tarragon and … dill.

Bottom Line:

This is pretty new so it’s hard to judge it against bourbons I’ve been drinking for decades. Still, this is such a funky and delightful departure from the whole Beam vibe that it’s hard not to dig it. This also benefits from being the first release and sparking a lot of anticipation for what’s coming next.

3. Jim Beam — Jim Beam Bonded

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $22

The Whiskey:

This bourbon is Jim Beam’s high watermark when it comes to Kentucky bourbon. The juice is aged in a bottled-in-bond facility for four years where it’s also bottled at 100 proof with no bullshit. This is the standard Beam bourbon mash bill (77 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and ten percent malted barley) but there’s just something extra happening that makes this expression shine.

Tasting Notes:

This bourbon beckons you in with notes of toasted oak, red cherry, and vanilla. That leads to fresh honey, sweet caramel corn, rich toffee, bold vanilla, crisp apple, more of that red cherry, peppery spice, and a note of fresh mint. With a little water, the dram edges towards bitter dark chocolate with a nice billow of pipe tobacco while holding onto the mint, toffee, and vanilla oakiness.

The end is long, meandering, and full of warmth, fruit, spice, and bourbon goodness.

Bottom Line:

I really wanted to rank this higher (yes, I toyed with number one). It’s absurd how well-rounded this whiskey is at this price point. I’ve tasted bourbons that cost three times as much that are far more muddled or one-note than this. But, the next two bottles really are stellar.

2. Booker’s — Booker’s Rye

Beam Suntory

ABV: 68.1%

Average Price: $386

The Whiskey:

This limited release from 2016 was Booker’s first rye release from some of the last barrels laid down by Booker Noe back in 2003 before he passed away. Those barrels were racked in Booker’s favorite spot in his favorite warehouse. His son, Fred Noe, kept an eye on the barrels and pulled them in 2016 to be barreled without filtration or cutting with water.

Tasting Notes:

There’s softness on the nose that draws you towards mild doses of fine pepper, crusty rye bread, soft leather tobacco pouches, and a drop of salted caramel. The taste explodes with dark holiday spices, leaning heavily on allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and black licorice. A counterpoint of dried orange peels arrives with a touch of eggnog creaminess as the spices continue to build. As the sip starts to fade, you’re left with a chewed cinnamon stick in the back of your mouth and a spicy tobacco head buzz layered atop a full Kentucky hug of warmth.

Bottom Line:

This 2016 limited release is a bit of a unicorn now. Still, if you can find this one, buy it. It’s something from another time that hits every note true. This is the ultimate sipper where you take your time and just think about it, your life, and the universe itself more deeply with every sip.

1. Knob Creek — Knob Creek 12

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $70

The Whiskey:

This is classic Beam whiskey with a low-ish rye mash bill of 77 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and ten percent malted barley. The juice is then left alone in the Beam warehouses for 12 long years. The barrels are chosen according to a specific taste and married to create this higher-proof expression.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with that classic Beam cherry that has dark chocolate and brandy candy depth alongside clear Christmas spices next to a hint of menthol tobacco. The spirit carries on those paths as it layers in buttery and sugary streusel over tart berries with plenty of that spice next to a nice dose of salted caramels covered in a bit of bitter dark chocolate. The finish is spicy and sweet and fades gradually.

Bottom Line:

This Knob Creek hits so many high marks. The most important one being that this is amazingly easy to drink while still having serious depth and nuance. Better still, you can easily get this pretty much anywhere for a reasonable price. There are ten-year-old bourbons out there that cost two or three times as much as this and aren’t quite as refined. That makes this today’s winner overall.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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