Jim Beam is the top-selling whiskey brand in the world, and that's no surprise. With many great brands under the umbrella of James B Beam Distilling Co. and a stellar core lineup of its own, Jim Beam's influence in the world of whiskey is vast. But what are the best Jim Beam whiskeys available right now? That's what we wanted to find out. Jim Beam's distilling company may have many different brands, but here, we will focus on those sold under the Jim Beam name. As it stands, that includes 13 expressions with plenty of flavored and maturely aged options.
Due to all of these whiskeys being affordable and easy to find, we've ranked this list purely on taste. In our mind, Jim Beam doesn't make a bad bourbon, but some are better than others. If you're a fan of Jim Beam and haven't tried all of its expressions, hopefully, you can use this list to guide you on what to buy next. Let's start our journey through everything this whiskey icon has to offer.
Read more: The 25 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked
Jim Beam Peach
Jim Beam has developed many flavored whiskeys in recent years. Of all of the ones in its current lineup, we feel the Jim Beam Peach is the weakest. Of course, we acknowledge that ranking flavored whiskey is difficult. Whether you enjoy it or not can depend heavily on how much you like the flavor it has been infused with. As with all its flavored products, this expression results from an infusion between a flavored liqueur (such as peach) and Jim Beam's Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It may have been ranked as "worst" on our list, but this drink is still flavorful and aromatic.
Due to the use of Kentucky straight bourbon, all of the flavored whiskeys we look at here will have the common bourbon tasting notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. The ripe peaches interplay with them quite well to give you a refreshing drink. If you are looking for a whiskey to drink in those summer months, this bottle is perfect when served with ice. The sweetness of the peach nicely contrasts with the familiar bourbon notes and makes it a good addition to cocktails. Despite its positives, the flavor infusion here simply doesn't work as well as with some other expressions in its portfolio. It's not bad, but it's not great, either.
Jim Beam Orange
The orange is slightly better than the peach version of Jim Beam. It's still tasty but doesn't quite marry perfectly with those classical bourbon tastes. It still works, as citrus fruits are one of the best ways to upgrade your bourbon, especially if you want to make it a little more refreshing. One of the newer additions to its lineup, the Jim Beam Orange does have a good contrast between the taste of those freshly picked oranges and the oak and light char of the bourbon.
For those who love the taste of orange, don't be put off by this being quite low on the list. For those who aren't the biggest fan of citrus fruits, you can probably give it a miss. As with the peach, this expression shines brightest on those hot days when you need something extra refreshing. A huge advantage of flavored whiskey is its versatility, as this bottle can be enjoyed whenever you want, and either on its own or in a wide variety of cocktails.
Jim Beam Fire
In the tasting notes of bourbon, you'll often see it described as "spicy." These flavors can partly come from the charred barrels in which bourbon is matured, and also from its rye content. If you're able to pick out individual spices, the most commonly found are cinnamon and nutmeg. It's those cinnamon flavors Jim Beam has used here to make a unique and pleasant whiskey. If you prefer more fiery whiskey expressions, you'll love this. The only drawback, and why it's ranked lower in this list, is the cinnamon can be a little overpowering to those who prefer a mellow bourbon.
We mentioned that the orange and the peach are both ideal for those hot summer days. Jim Beam Fire is quite the opposite. If you've been out in the cold all day, sipping this whiskey will warm your soul. The cinnamon immediately hits your palate before the familiar notes come through for a bold and intense sipping experience. For cocktails, it works best when you want to add a spicy twist to classics such as the hot toddy and the cinnamon whiskey sour. It may be too hot for some to handle, but the Jim Beam Fire will be loved by those who appreciate a cinnamon-infused kick.
Jim Beam Honey
There is something about whiskey and honey that absolutely works. Especially appealing to those with a sweeter tooth, the Jim Beam Honey builds on the bourbon's natural sweetness and adds an even more powerful honey addition. The nose is incredible here. We love the smell of straight bourbon, but many others find it too harsh. This honey whiskey has all those delightful smells but without that powerful whiskey aroma. Even those who don't like whiskey can often find themselves enjoying this expression.
The honey influence is warming and will give you a slightly sweet, easy-to-sip whiskey experience. We've talked it up quite a lot here, so why isn't it higher on the list? The answer is that we don't think it's the best honey whiskey out there. If we were to recommend one bottle, it would be the one made by Jim Beam's infamous whiskey-making rivals, Jack Daniel's. For us, the Tennessee brand mastered this flavor, and Jim Beam's version isn't quite on the same level. That being said, if you're a fan of Jim Beam and haven't tried this expression, we'd still recommend ticking it off your list.
Jim Beam Vanilla
Vanilla is perhaps the most common tasting note you'll get with bourbon, and it's why so many love this spirit. This familiar flavor will usually be there whether you are trying a bottom-of-the-shelf expression or a rare limited edition. Jim Beam Vanilla is one of the most popular flavored whiskeys, and for good reason. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the one for you. With its dessert-like flavors, this offers an impressive vanilla-infused bourbon experience. It may seem fairly low on the list, but we were still impressed by the flavor of this whiskey.
On the nose, there is enough caramel and oak present to ensure the vanilla isn't overly dominant. You get an enjoyable mouthfeel on the palate as some delightful toffee joins the infused flavor. What's surprising about this whiskey is that it's so smooth and comforting to drink that it's easy to forget you're drinking alcohol at all. It still has a proof of 70, so there is plenty of punch behind its smoothness. The finish is satisfyingly sweet and long and entices you to keep coming back for more.
Jim Beam Red Stag
Black cherry isn't a dominant flavor that you'll often find naturally in bourbon or any other whiskey for that matter. It makes this a bold and innovative expression but one that works. The balance of the rich and smooth profile of Jim Beam with the sweet and fruity essence of ripe black cherries is deeply enjoyable. The cherry is delightful on the nose and combines well with the classic bourbon. On the palate, the vibrant cherry works particularly well with the warmth of the oak to stop its sweetness from being too overbearing.
It combines well with many different types of cocktails, but it makes a particularly great addition to a bourbon sour. However, we think the best place for this whiskey is when just mixed with cola. It gives it a taste of cherry cola, which also isn't too dissimilar to Dr. Pepper. So, if you like either of those soft drinks and are looking for an alcoholic alternative, Jim Beam Red Stag is the whiskey for you. While those are some solid suggestions, this flavored whiskey is more than good enough to be enjoyed on its own.
Jim Beam Rye
Jim Beam's regular Kentucky Straight Bourbon has 13% of rye in the mash bill, but that's dialed up to 51% for this expression. The inspiration for Jim Beam Rye comes from one of the recipes the brand used before prohibition. If you're new to bourbon, its corn content being below 51% means this is not bourbon; instead, it is simply called rye whiskey. Rye at 13% helps to give regular bourbon a bolder flavor with plenty of spice, so those features are much more notable here.
It's similar in spice level to the Fire we looked at above, except that pepper is the dominant spice you'll get here. It's also important to note this is not a flavored whiskey, as there is no infusion here. On the nose, you'll get hit with those spicy notes that can be overpowering initially. The palate has a satisfying balance of that bold rye pepper and the subtle sweetness you'll get from caramel and vanilla.
The result is a whiskey that is dynamic but remains approachable. This bottle is a great option for bourbon enthusiasts as it will give you a greater appreciation of how rye can influence traditional bourbon. The finish is warm and lingering, leaving a pleasant aftertaste that underscores the whiskey's spicy character. Its well-balanced flavor profile and versatility make it an excellent addition to the diverse lineup of Jim Beam expressions.
Jim Beam Apple
The final (and therefore best) flavored whiskey on this list is the Jim Beam Apple. It's a delightful and refreshing expression and showcases how Jim Beam has mastered the infusion process. The succulent flavor of green apples presents a harmonious balance between the inherent sweetness of bourbon and the lively zest of orchard fruits. The nose invites you in as the apple combines nicely with the Kentucky straight bourbon it's blended with.
The palate unsurprisingly unfolds with a burst of sweetness, but a mellow spice comes through, which helps to counterbalance it. It makes for a highly approachable whiskey perfect for various cocktail creations. It can give a vibrant twist to a classic old fashioned or a ginger highball. Of course, its versatility means it can be enjoyed in many ways in a wide range of settings. When enjoyed neat, you'll appreciate its clean and lingering finish, proving this to be a perfect example of why flavored whiskey can be so appealing.
This popular bourbon is so legendary that we simply couldn't rank it any lower. This is the flagship whiskey from Jim Beam and the base for all the flavored whiskeys that we've looked at above. It deserves its iconic status as a versatile and approachable bourbon that has stood the test of time. Aged for a minimum of four years in new charred oak barrels, this classic bourbon embodies the essence of American whiskey. We've already touched on all the tasting notes you can expect from this bourbon: It has those familiar aromas of sweet corn, vanilla, and a subtle touch of caramel.
All of those smells can be found on the palate, which is smooth and well-balanced, especially from a budget bourbon. Along with the sweetness is a gentle spice that helps to give it more warmth and depth. Its accessibility and affordability make it an excellent choice for both newcomers to bourbon and seasoned enthusiasts alike. The finish is clean and crisp, with that gentle warmth on the palate lingering pleasantly. Whether enjoyed neat, with a mixer, or in a cocktail, this is a bourbon you can rely on. As a staple in the world of whiskey, it remains a testament to the craftsmanship and tradition that define the Jim Beam legacy.
Jim Beam Devil's Cut
The volume of liquid that a distiller puts into a barrel isn't the same volume of liquid that comes out. There are two reasons for that. The first is that the spirit will naturally evaporate into the heavens, which is beautifully called the angel's share. The second is that some spirit will be absorbed into the wood, which is called the devil's cut. To meet a palatable and consistent proof, most whiskey is cut with water after it has been removed from the barrel. Even though it's kept a secret, the most likely process for making the Jim Beam Devil's Cut is that the emptied barrels are filled with water. After this, the barrels would be agitated to release as much trapped bourbon as possible, and then this water is used to cut its regular extra-aged bourbon.
That's the likely process, but what does it mean for the final result? It helps to give it a robust intensity with a prominent oaky influence. You'll get deep and smoky notes on the nose and a hint of char. That woodiness is quite pronounced on the palate, considering the reclaimed whiskey has been trapped in the oak. It's a bold and distinct whiskey, much different from Jim Beam's regular offering. The long and lingering finish has plenty of warmth, which completes this adventurous bourbon experience. It's a creative way to make whiskey and is well worth a try.
Jim Beam Single Barrel
Single-barrel bourbons are a unique variation to standard expressions. To maintain consistency and quality, whiskey barrels from the same distillery are usually mixed together. This allows all the bottles to taste the same, so the regular Jim Beam you pick up from the shelf today tastes the same as the one you picked up a few years ago. Single-barrel whiskeys aim to be a little different.
Instead of looking for consistency, they celebrate the diversity found from one barrel to the next. Due to this, each bottle is derived from its solitary cask maturation. This allows it to showcase the distinct qualities of the hand-selected barrel it originated from. The nose here has the familiar smells, but the aromas and palate are a little more complex than you'll get from the regular Jim Beam. Most notably, you'll get a robust combination of oak and char and more subtle notes of toffee and dark fruit. While those are the common notes, each barrel is slightly different, and you can have fun comparing them over time.
Single-barrel bourbons aren't ideal for those looking for something smooth and mellow. Instead, they suit bourbon lovers seeking more character from their whiskey. Many enthusiasts would have the Jim Beam Single Barrel as No. 1 on their list, and it would be hard to disagree. However, we thought the top two had a little more depth.
Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged
Jim Beam doesn't place much of a focus on maturely aged spirits, with the Black Extra-Aged expression being the oldest in its current lineup. Instead of having an age statement on the whiskey, Jim Beam will only bottle its spirits when it meets the required standard. That being said, this expression is thought to be at least six years old. The Black Label used to have an age statement of eight years, but that was discontinued in 2015, presumably because Jim Beam thought it could get similar results with a little less aging. Regardless, this is a brilliant whiskey and better value for money than many other similar bourbons with extended aging. It has a range of sophisticated flavors and a level of refinement that sets it apart.
There's a much more notable wood influence on the nose when compared to regular Jim Beam, with a hint of nuttiness, too. That influence of wood and nuts continues to the palate. They are joined by all the tasting notes you get from the flagship bottle, but these are richer. The mouthfeel has an excellent velvety texture that confirms this as a higher level of whiskey. As with all Jim Beam products, it's more than fairly priced, making it even more enticing. It's no doubt a superb bourbon. However, the incredible interplay of flavors from our top pick means it must settle for second.
Jim Beam Double Oak
Jim Beam Double Oak stands out as the finest expression within the Jim Beam whiskey portfolio. With its distinctive flavor and exceptional craftsmanship, it has a depth you don't find with any of Jim Beam's other regular releases. As the name suggests, this whiskey goes through a double-barreling process. The whiskey is aged in two new charred American oak barrels. It spends four years in the first barrel, before being transferred to the second for the rest of the maturation process. This means that the qualities a whiskey gets from a new barrel are doubled when compared to its standard releases.
As you may well predict, this increases the oak influence in the bourbon. Surprisingly, the double oak aging seemingly intensifies the sweetness of the caramel and vanilla on the nose, giving it a delightful aroma. You get a beautiful taste of toasted oak on the palate, which helps create a velvety mouthfeel. The double aging also showcases nuances of spice, especially nutmeg, and a hint of dark chocolate. The finish is long and satisfying, leaving a warm, lingering sensation that proves why this bourbon deserves to be No. 1.
As with almost every established whiskey brand, Jim Beam has a seemingly endless range of products it has made over the years. However, for this list, we wanted to focus on those in its core lineup that are easy to find and won't be going anywhere anytime soon. That means we haven't included any limited releases or expressions that have been discontinued.
In terms of how I ranked these bottles, that mostly comes down to personal experience with tasting these wonderful whiskeys. While that was the foundation of the ranking, I also wanted to be as objective as possible and sought the opinion of whiskey-loving friends while also checking out a wide range of user reviews. Hopefully, the result is a fair list that celebrates everything this iconic brand has to offer.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.