Whiskey Review: Jim Beam Brown Rice Bourbon

Jim Beam Signature Craft Brown Rice

image copyright The Whiskey Wash

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

As fellow The Whiskey Wash reviewer Margarett Waterbury noted in her recent review of sister spirit Jim Beam Signature Craft Soft Red Wheat, the sextuplet set of “lost” craft whiskey Beam experiments from the early 2000’s, has finally been released. Ranging from red wheat to barley to whole rolled oat to triticale to high rye to brown rice, the set boasts alternative solutions to the typical bourbon mash bill.

Although described by Beam-Suntory as alternatives to the typical bourbon, their tasting notes for the set tell a very different story. It is clear that the brand does not aim to stray far afield from their expected range in terms of branding, taste or audience.

I tasted the brown rice iteration, known as Jim Beam Brown Rice Bourbon, of the recently discovered and subsequently released Harvest Bourbon Collection. The brown rice spirit did not offer significant visual changes from a typical bourbon, proving the expected golden brown hue in the glass. Its richness in hue did hint at a certain age, however—indeed denoting its 11 years in cask.

Immediately on the nose, heavy oak and warm caramel suggest typical bourbon characteristics. As the whiskey opened, toasted nut butter—specifically peanut butter—were present on the nose. On the palate, high sugar and starch strike first, followed by a certain heartiness. It is beyond me whether or not the heartiness experienced sprung from my conception of brown rice as an actual food, or from the spirit itself.

Rounding the dram out was a molasses and dark brown sugar element, relatively expected in a bourbon. The finish hinted at dulche de leche and milk caramel. 

As compared to Margarett’s less than perfect experience with sister red wheat, mine with Beam’s brown rice experiment was surprisingly enjoyable. Although not entirely worth $50 for 375 ml, this whiskey was one I’d happily drink again. Nearing cloying, but settling into expectedly warm, Jim Beam Signature Craft Brown Rice, certainly has something to offer the comfortable whiskey aficionado, but may not suffice for the more adventurous set.

A reasonable 84 seems appropriate for this dram. 

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Savannah Weinstock

I am a graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR whose Environmental Studies thesis focused on “Scotch Whisky, Sustainability, and Commodification of Nature & Culture”. While writing my thesis, I spent time living and studying in Glasgow, Scotland where I visited and interviewed distilleries nationwide, concentrating on the...