Whiskey Review: Jim Beam Kentucky Dram Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Jim Beam Kentucky Dram Whiskey

Kentucky Dram

Photo by Zach Braunstein. Image copyright The Whiskey Wash.

You can’t bring up bourbon without giving a nod in the direction of Jim Beam. We’ve written about the distillery before, and I can promise you we’ll be writing about them again.

The history of the company could fill a library (and, indeed, there have been a number of books already written on the subject), so, for the sake of brevity, here’s the abridged history: the first Jim Beam whiskey was made by founder Jacob Beam, a first generation German immigrant, in the late 1700’s. The company, like the young nation, expanded outward. The distillery was sold during the Prohibition – a dark time all around for whiskey lovers – and reinvented by James B. Beam in the 1930’s.

Jump forward a few decades: Growth, diversification (picking up brands such as Maker’s Mark along the way), you get the picture. In 2014 Jim Beam was, in turn, purchased by mega group Suntory Holdings Ltd. for an ungodly amount of money (the purchase of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Teacher’s Highland Cream, and Laphoraig cost all together over $13 billion), thus creating in Beam Suntory the third largest spirits distributor in the world.

Whew. You still with me? Good. That last little detail – in particular the consolidation of Jim Beam and Teacher’s Highland Cream into Beam Suntory – did more than just make the stock market bounce… it also led the way to Jim Beam’s newest (and perhaps funkiest) creation: the Kentucky Dram Whiskey.

We’ve been looking forward to this one. Advertised on the bottle as “[…]Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey with a touch of peated scotch whisky.” I am, by and large, not a big fan of the whole “big company eats smaller company and becomes bigger” thing… but sometimes there’s a light at the end of that particular tunnel: Every once in a while, when the moon is in phase and the planets are aligned, you end up with these neat little Frankenstein babies that probably wouldn’t have been born otherwise. Though Beam Suntory isn’t the first company to dabble in whiskey hybridization, it’s the first I’m aware of to actually combine finished bourbon and scotch together into a unified blended spirit.

The bottle comes in a limited edition run, sold only in travel shops (a nod, perhaps, to it’s intercontinental origins?) and comes in a neat collectible tin… but it’s not the fancy tin, or the limited run, or the mad-science cross-combining of whisk[e]ys that makes a good drink. It’s only how the thing tastes in a glass that really matters. With that said, let’s dive in and see if the Kentucky Dram Whiskey lives up to the Jim Beam name.

Tasting Notes: Jim Beam Kentucky Dram Whiskey

Vital Stats: The Jim Beam Kentucky Dram Whiskey comes in a 1 liter bottle, and clocks in at 80 proof. A mix of Kentucky straight bourbon with peated Scotch (the word on the street is that the mix is made from Jim Beam White Label and Ardmore scotch), the bottle has no noted age statement. Sold only in travel shops (ie, duty free), it comes in a commemorative tin and retails between $40 and $55, depending on where you get it.

Appearance: In the glass the Jim Beam Kentucky Dram is a pale clementine-amber.

Nose: The nose is sweet and smooth: toffee and cloves with just a hint of smoke and freshly turned earth.

Palate: Delicious. It opens up quite sweet, but doesn’t step over that fine line to become cloying. Apricots, licorice, and vanilla. After a moment the Scotch part of the blend shows itself… it’s subtle, but absolutely noticeable. An earthy back of the tongue finish that lingers pleasantly until the next sip.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes when I’m reviewing a whiskey I just know that I’ll never finish the bottle. It’ll get relegated to the back of the shelf, or conveniently forgotten at a party somewhere. That will not be the case here. To give you an idea: Upon the writing of this article, my one liter bottle is currently half-empty. Yeah, this one’s not lasting long… the combination of smooth, sweet, and peat all hit the right spots for me. It’s a bit on the pricier side, but in my opinion worth it. Next time you’re passing through customs, I highly recommend leaving some room for a bottle in your carry-on.