For whatever reason, this bourbon is the one which I seem to hear about the least of the bourbons in the Jim Beam small batch collection. It’s odd, perhaps, because it is a solid bourbon, and the price is good. It comes in at 53.5%, is aged 7 years, and is fairly available. Each bottle has a batch number on it – this reviewed batch is B-90-001.
This whiskey was introduced in 1992 as part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection – it was modelled after the whiskey and recipe made by Basil Hayden, a distiller in the late 1700s. The whiskey used to carry an age statement of 8 years, but is now “artfully aged”, i.e. not as old. Likewise, it used to be a “straight” bourbon – but now no longer carries that description. This whiskey has the lowest alcohol content (40%) of any of the Jim Cream Small Batch Collection (which includes the Knob Creek line, Booker’s, and Baker’s), and is crafted to be a lighter bourbon. This bourbon is unique in that it has a higher rye content (the recipe uses about 30%), which is nearly double that of the other Jim Beam products.
This bourbon is part of Diageo’s “orphan barrel” series, where a number of “orphan” barrels have been put together for a number of bourbon releases ranging in age from 15-26 years old from different distilleries. Of course, barrels aren’t just “lost” but the range has released a number of decent whiskies. This whisky, despite remarks trying to claim some link to Stitzel Weller (where the famous Pappy Van Winkle bourbons were distilled), was produced at the Bernheim distillery. This whisky is aged for 20 years, which is a very long time for a bourbon, which is typically in the range of 5 years – these whiskies are both very hard to find and very expensive.
This whisky 8 years old – older than the average bourbon, and very much done more in the style of a “modern” bourbon – a bit more of a silky and soft sort of bourbon. The distillery is owned by Sazerac, who also own Buffalo Trace Distillery, and they give quite a nice and different distilery tour which I quite recommend – it’s a bit more industrial than the others if you’re in the area and it’s not even on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The 1792 on the bottle refers to the year that Kentucky became a state Recently the bottled was changed and, to me, the new bottle looks much more like a cognac bottle than a bourbon bottle. Too bad, really – I quite like the look of the old bottle (as pictured above).
This whiskey is branded to be “triple aged”, as it is aged three times the minimum requirement for bourbon, carrying a 6 year old age statement (though it used to be 8 years here). Similar to Canadian Club Reserve, which also carries similar branding and bottling (owned, of course, by the same company).
This whisky is produced by Wild Turkey, a distillery near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and home to the longest tenured master distiller in the world (in Jimmy Russel). This whisky is aged 6-8 years in heavily charred oak barrels, after being distilled to a proof of 62.5% and then watered down to 55% to be put into the barrels. This level is relatively low, but it is utilized by Wild Turkey because they say it retains more flavour.
Maker’s Mark is a distillery which has been run by the Samuel’s family since 1780. The present distillery was built in 1953 by Bill Samuels after prohibition. Though his family had been in the business for some time, the whisky which was produced was not very drinkable. Bill Samuel’s wanted a return to making whisky, with a slightly different bourbon – a bit lighter and more premium than before.