Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon

In February 2015, Jim Beam/Suntory released Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon, a throwback bourbon with a throwback gold label, reminiscent of Jim Beam bourbons of old.  The JBB mash bill is 77% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted barley, and the bourbon meets the legal criteria to be labeled as "bonded."  According to Fred Noe, the intent was to provide mixologists with a vintage whiskey to create old school classic cocktails.  

Throughout the 1800's, unscrupulous distillers and opportunists were flavoring and coloring various spirits- vodka, gin, whatever.  They were altering spirits with iodine, tobacco, licorice, and other substances to make people believe it was bourbon.  It was killing people and making people sick.  So the Government stepped in and created the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897.

Under the law, to be "bonded," bourbon must not only conform to all the regular bourbon criteria, it must also have been distilled at one distillery, under supervision of the same master distiller, in one season. It must be at least 4 years old. It must be bottled at 100 proof.  The end state is consistency, quality, and a tax incentive for distillers (generally, distillers can defer paying the excise tax for however long the bourbon is aged).  

Heaven Hill produces seven bonded products, but they are otherwise rare in this modern era.  Some experts are calling for and anticipating more bonded products in the near future.  At this price point, we'll be happy if they're correct.
Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon

Beam Suntory
100 proof
$19 at ABC in Richmond, VA
Color: Medium amber.
Nose:  The whiff is all man.  It's tobacco, wood, cinnamon, and leather.  After some air time, I get mint toothpaste, and I love it.  
Tasting Notes:  Sipping JBB neat is a balancing act between butterscotch sweet and cinnamon spice.  The bourbon teases the tongue with a syrupy, cherry sweetness but finishes on the hot, woody, spicy side.  

Overall: B.  JBB is a little too hot.  It's not the easiest sipper, but it wasn't intended to be.  It was intended to find its way into craft cocktails, and it's perfect for that.  The flavor profile is aggressive, but well-balanced and complex enough to buy again.  

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