Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish is a glass of whiskey history. Released in 1999, it was one of the first super premium bourbons on the market and retailed for the jaw dropping price of $250. Which might not sound that bad now, but 1999 was back in the “glory days”. Back when things like Port Ellen and Brora didn’t cost a small fortune, no one really cared about anything Van Winkle and the idea of dropping thousands of dollars on a bottle was pure insanity. In 1999 $250 must have felt like a giant slap in the face.
In addition to being one of the first super premium bourbons the Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish was one of the first, if not the first, release by a major bourbon brand that featured a cask finish. In every way this was a weird whiskey for the market to absorb back then and is why, until a few years ago, you could see them sitting on the top shelf of liquor stores collecting dust. Though in today’s bourbon boom they’ve all disappeared and go for far more than $250 on the secondary and in auctions.
Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish Info
Region: Kentucky, USA
Distiller: Jim Beam
Mashbill: 77% Corn, 13% Rye, 10 % Corn
Cask: New charred oak & ex-Cognac casks
Age: 18 years
Price: N/A – Auction or Specialty Store
Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish Review
Reddish purplish brown.
Butterscotch, caramel, cherry and fig heavy dark fruit, spice and a light bit of vanilla. It’s a rich deep aroma with complex darkly sweet notes pinned up by a rustic earthy character.
Laden with dark fruits like cherries, figs and plums. That dark fruit is accompanied by a complex ball of dark sweets and light notes of vanilla, baking spice and citrus with a bit of mint that creeps in towards the end. Even though the citrus is light, something about it makes me think of an Orange Creamsicle.
Long and sweet with layers of dark sweets, dark fruit, wood and mint.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Nicely balanced, full bodied and a round oily feel.
The Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish is awesome. We tasted this along with some other legendary bourbons in a LAWS blind bourbon tasting which included an Old Fitz Colonial Decanter from the 60s, Martin Mills 24, several legendary Willetts and some other stuff – and this JBMC held its own nicely. It has a rich deep aroma, bold full palate and long lovely finish that combines in way that excites the senses.
Not too long ago Beam decided to resurrect the Distiller’s Masterpiece label, but from everything I’ve read it’s nowhere near the same level of quality as the originals. Yes I said originals, plural. In addition to the The Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish there was a 20 year port finish released around the same time. I haven’t tried it, but after tasting this and reading some good reviews it went on my bourbon bucket list. Hopefully someday I get to cross that one off!
SCORE: 90-92/100 (A-, not consumed at home)
Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 91
- Palate - 91
- Finish - 91
- Balance, Body & Feel - 91
Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece 18 Years Cognac Finish is a great whiskey and should you get an opportunity to try it do so. I wouldn’t spend crazy money to do it, but if a feasible opportunity arrives go for it.