Double the oak and what do you get? Something that still tastes like Jim Beam, but with something a little extra. Something a little spicy. Something a little fiery. Brace yourselves, boys and girls, for the Kentucky Balls of Steel…
Double the oak – double the wood smoke
Launched in 2016, Jim Beam’s Double Oak gets a double dose of new charred oak. The official party line is that it has ‘all the classic flavours of Jim Beam White Label, but with added spice…’ and we tend to agree with Jim Beam on this one. As for the venerable Jim Beam themselves, they probably don’t much need an introduction but we’d be remiss not to give their history a few digital column inches…
The guys from Clermont Kentucky have been making bourbon (with one small interruption/prohibition) since 1795 – when founder Jacob Beam sold his first barrel of whisky. The distillery gets its name from James ‘Jim’ Beam, who rebuilt the business once prohibition was over and they were allowed to sell booze once more. Today things are run and overseen by Jim’s great grandson Frederick Booker Noe III. Great name…
We Drink It, Stuff Happens
Fum-fi-fo-dee, I smell fire and lots of heat. This is unmistakably bourbon with honey dried fruit. It appears not to have departed far from the tried and tested Jim Beam formula.
Weighty with a big nose. I could make a joke here but I won’t ;3
Also herbaceous – what’s that stuff they put in potpourri ? Imagine that WITH FIRE BEHIND IT. Lots of brown sugar, some citrus – marzipan and orange peel, wood glue. Maybe lavender? This will later translate nicely into the finish and live happily ever after alongside the creamy oak flavours.
All this herbaceousness reminds me of the kind of smells you may have experienced in expensive Indian restaurants or a perfume shop that specialises in the Indian subcontinent. If, of course, one of those restaurants/shops happened to be located next to a lake of barrel aged whiskey…
Still, dial down the heat coming off of the booze and this could be perfume. Though wearing it would be a waste. Still, with this much heat – it feels a little unready and young.
Bittersweet and spicy from the moment it hits your tongue. I have found that if you can taste the spicy – even before swallowing – that you’re either going to get burned, or you’re in for a mouth adventure. Or both. On that note, it does burn a little more than I’d like. Swallow and yes, more spice than some of the distilled things from Kentucky you may have tried – but very familiar.
Then comes a little hint of blackcurrant or something ‘berry like’. It fights with thunder and oak and chalk and orange peel and the possibility of marzipan or Battenberg cake – and you stand on the metaphorical sidelines, breathing it all in with great curiosity. Now peach(?), raisin and resin – and something metallic and medical.This is a kind of bitter sourness, cutting with a metallic note straight down the middle – sharp like steel.
Average in length – leading you onto those creamy dreamy oak notes – creamy dreamy right out of your nose on every exhale for the next two minutes. There’s that kind of grapeskin, grappa note on your tongue – which always tends to linger. Plus something ‘spicy’ that is infuriatingly familiar but I can’t find a name for. I keep wanting to say allspice but it’s not quite allspice.
And of course, all of the herbaceous lavender characteristics merging and having a mouth party with the creamy oak notes. OK.
This doesn’t feel hugely different from the original, but it certainly has character – that herbaceous floral lavender combination that is distinctive to this whiskey.
This is not watered down for popular consumption and this is not ‘smooth’. This has Kentucky balls of steel. It has wood-charred character that manifests in a metallic kind of note. I find it to be a bit much too drink too much without something to warm up with beforehand, but you don’t doubt that this thing’d hold up nicely in a Blood and Sand!