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.
Jim Beam is one of the quintessential bourbon brands, and has a well-deserved reputation for crafting exquisite whiskies. The Clermont, Kentucky based distillery was founded in 1795 and produces a massive array of bourbons that can please the interests of any drinker. Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask whiskey is an interesting new direction for the company. It is a blend of typical Jim Beam whiskey that has been aged for at least five years and whiskey that has been aged for four to eight years in smaller, quarter cask barrels. By placing and aging whiskey in smaller barrels than those conventionally used, the woody flavor develops much more quickly and is imparted more successfully than in larger barrels.
Sold in a 750 mL bottle, it is 86 proof, or 43% alcohol by volume, and is ideally enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Using small barrels for aging whiskey can produce some dramatically different results for the final product. Smaller barrels are popular among craft distillers, because they give a greater amount of surface area contact for the whiskey being aged, and increase the woody flavors in the whiskey. Drinkers who do not like such a taste may have a lower opinion of small barrels, which also can sometimes result in creating drier whiskey.
In a glass, the whiskey retains its same opaque appearance it had in the bottle, with the color of ripe pumpkin. One has to lean in and breath deep to capture the scent, which is predominantly woody and smoky and communicates the taste closely. If one concentrates, a sweet aroma is also palpable.
The taste is immediately pleasing and inviting, and has a diverse combination of splendid flavors. It’s amazing how soft the sensation on the palate is, and it’s a testament to how much talent and effort went into distilling this whiskey. However, the sweetness is accompanied by pulses of fiery bitterness and an aura of smoky heat.
One can easily notice and revel in the flavors of corn, rye, and barley in each mouthful. The aftertaste brings a subtler layer of sweetness, followed by pleasant tanginess vibrating along the tongue and lingering smokiness in the mouth. There’s not a hint of sharpness or spikiness that can disrupt appreciation of a whiskey. Everything that is present is meant to be present, and this drink is a demonstration of great skill in distilling.
This is a fabulous whiskey to enjoy, with complexity and richness in its taste. While it could have a more distinguished finish, Jim Beam Quarter Cask is absolutely worth buying and trying. It’s fun to relax with this whiskey, sipping and teasing out the various components that come together in synthesis to make such a great drink. With a general selling price of around $40, it is a fair amount to ask for, but it has a level of professionalism and depth to its taste that not many other bourbons can match.
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Derek Sun hails from hot and dry Los Angeles and currently enjoys living in cold and rainy Portland. He taught himself to appreciate whiskey through many glasses and a few hangovers, and is always trying out new drinks around the world.