Jim Beam is the world’s biggest and best-selling Bourbon and Jim Beam distilleries produce ⅔ of the bourbon that is distilled in Kentucky. Jim Beam’s story dates back to the 18th century, when Bohm’s family moved from Germany to America and settled there in the Kentucky area. At that time, whiskey was already made in America, but rye and barley were used just like in Ireland and Scotland. Johannes Böhm was one of the first farmers in the Kentucky area to use corn to make whiskey. The first batch of whiskey went on sale in 1795 under the name “Old Jake Beam Sour Mash”. John’s son David continued to follow in his father’s footsteps and grew, especially when the railways boosted distribution and sales, so Kentucky whiskey began to gain a foothold across the country.
David’s son James inherited the operation of the distillery, which ended completely under the Prohibition Act. After 13 years of silence, James rebuilt the distillery and continued to produce whiskey. During World War II, Beam’s distillery supplied whiskey to U.S. soldiers around the world. That has been a major contributor to the global popularity of Beam’s whiskey. The last Beam, Jeremiah Beam, renamed the whiskey to Jim Beam in honor of his father’s memory. In 1945, Beam’s family sold the company’s ownership, but has remained in business ever since and is currently run by a seventh-generation representative. Jim Beam Distillery has changed owners a couple of times, eventually ending up with its current owner, Japanese brewer Suntory, in 2014. The company is currently called Beam-Suntory.
The recipe for the mash is a secret, but it contains at least 51% corn and smaller amounts of rye and barley. It is matured in charred oak barrels for 4 years. A 50 cl bottle costs about 15 € in Estonia.
The nose of Jim Beam is promising, it is strongly corny and fruity, the oak comes with a hint of vanilla and caramel. However, the taste is more monotonous, with sweet corn and oak. During the four years of maturing, it has brought a bit of woody bitterness, but it is not too disturbing. The alcoholic burn clearly exists, but in a very short way. The aftertaste is quickly gone and leaves just the fruity sweet notes. Sipping it neat does not offer passions, but it cocktail very well and is quite competitive in price, especially when it is almost constantly on offer in stores.