A few years ago, when bourbon stocks began to tighten, one sign was the disappearance of age statements on the labels of many brands, such as Evan Williams. Most observers predicted that, going forward, age statements would be reserved for only higher end products. Those predictions have proved to be correct.
Recently, Bulliet Bourbon launched a label-stated 10-year-old, at $50 a bottle. Soon Jim Beam will debut a label-stated 12-year-old, at $40 a bottle (and 43% ABV).
When it arrives (the exact date hasn't been announced), it also will represent the debut of the Jim Beam Signature Craft Series. As explained earlier this week by Adam Graber of Beam's Innovation Team, the 12-year-old bourbon will be a permanent part of the series, which also will feature periodic limited editions.
One such will debut along with the 12-year-old, but so far they're keeping it a secret.
Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Years will be the oldest iteration of Beam bourbon ever released, with the exception of the Distiller's Masterpiece Series from many years ago. Jim Beam Black is 8-years-old and Knob Creek, essentially the same whiskey, is 9.
It tastes about as you'd expect, which is like an older brother to Jim Beam Black. That expression uses the claim 'double-aged,' making the 12-year-old 'triple-aged,' if they choose to say so. It's good, well balanced, and not too woody. For many, 10- to 12-years in the sweet spot for bourbons, when they still have all their character from the grains and yeast, before the wood starts to take over. This will be a very welcome addition in that range.
Jim Beam Black, by the way, is a great bargain at about $22 a bottle, and $40 is a good price for a 12-year-old in a fancy bottle. Good for Beam on both counts, for continuing to deliver excellent value.