In 2013 Jim Beam introduced their first finished whiskey in the Signature Craft line which was a Spanish Brandy finished whiskey which had a small amount of Spanish Brandy actually added to it. At the end of 2014 they introduced their latest in the Signature Craft line with the Small Batch Quarter Cask Finished Bourbon. To make this they took some of their traditional 4-5 year old Jim Beam Bourbon (Jim Beam White essentially) and mixed in some bourbon that spent 4-6 years in traditional large barrels before being moved to newly charred 1/4 sized barrels and aged for an additional 4-8 years.
This addition of the extra aged, small barrel bourbon gives the usual Jim Beam white a nuttier and richer flavor and according to the back of the bottle it also “heightens the deep caramel and vanilla flavors and adds a hint of smoke.” I didn’t find the smoke they’re talking about and if anything the caramel and vanilla seemed a bit lighter than it usually is in Jim Beam, but that’s all a matter of perception and I’m sure Mr. Fred Noe is far more perceptive of small changes in his bourbon than I am, but that’s not really important. What’s really important in whiskey is if you like it or not so let’s go find out if I did.
Jim Beam Signature Craft – Quarter Cask Review
Age: 4 years
Distiller: Jim Beam
Mashbill: 76% corn, 13% brown rice & 10 % malt
Corn, raw grain and caramel met me right out of the gate and for a while that’s all I could smell, but after letting it breathe a deeply nutty (peanuts) character showed up along with some vanilla, marzipan and a hint of dark fruit. I’m liking the nose and a bit of water opens it up a bit more and a light spice shows up while the nuttiness gets richer.
It’s a bit like drinking trail mix. Dark dried fruit and nuts permeate the flavor. Some darker sweet notes like butterscotch, peanut brittle and caramel come in and out, but it’s the woody character that actually makes it all come together here. There is a hint of bourbon spice and vanilla and just a bit of water helps to really open up the spice more and round out the palate a bit.
Peanuts, butterscotch, wood and grain combine for a long tasty finish.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
It does feel a tad off, it needs that hidden spice to really center it so without a bit of water it feels a bit off, maybe it will open in the bottle with time. It has a medium body and a soft silky texture without any real heat.
It’s a likable whiskey with a warm nutty character throughout, but I just wish there was more spice to it. I don’t know if it’s because of the smaller casks or what but the spice I usually find in JB products is muted here and if that were coming through more it would get a higher score. Adding a bit of water does open it up a bit and that spice starts to come through, but that’s an odd thing to have to say about an 86 proof whiskey. Still, as far as experiments go, this tastes better and is a much better value than the red wheat stuff so it’s also got that going for it. So all in all, a decent whiskey.