Small Batch Collection from Jim Beam

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Small Batch Collection from Jim Beam

Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:32 am

I was going to say something about the small batch collection in the Jim Beam White forum, but realised that what I had to say had nothing to do with Jim Beam White, so I thought I would start a new thread here.

When Jim Beam first released this collection in the early 1990's Chris Morris and I went to a tasting at the Seelbach Hotel with Paul Pacault and Booker Noe. We went though the collection starting from the lowest proof to the highest. I would assume that since that is the way they tasted the collection, then that was their "concept" of how it should be tasted.

The Basil Hayden, according to Paul and Booker, was the different mash bill using Old Grand Dad bourbon at 80 proof. This was designed to be the lightest tasting bourbon in the collection and was marketed to appeal to Canadian whisky drinkers. Knob Creek at 100 proof was to appeal to those who traditionaly drank bonded bourbon and Baker's at 107 proof was designed for cocktails with a flavor strong enough to handle its own with mixers. Booker's of course was designed as the first barrel proof unfiltered bourbon on the market since prohibition. The last three products were all the Beam recipe bourbon.

At the time the "small batch" concept was a way to jump on the "single barrel" bandwagon without making a single barrel whiskey, which involves a heavy investment in bottling facilities and labor costs. Over the next decade the definition of "small batch" was changed several times as Knob Creek became more popular. The fact is that by the present definition of small batch by volume bottled at a time as applied to Knob Creek would make most pre-prohibition bourbons "small batch". Once again everything old is new again.
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Unread postby angelshare » Sun Oct 28, 2007 4:29 pm

How close to small batch volume is Beam Black?
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Unread postby gillmang » Sun Oct 28, 2007 6:39 pm

Thanks, Mike, but despite KC sharing the same recipe as Booker's and Baker's, it is always different in flavour and specifically never has the rye/anise quality these others have. Never. That has to be intentional on the part of the people designing the palate.

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Unread postby cowdery » Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:12 pm

It's often claimed that Baker's is the Beam mash bill but uses a different yeast. I doubt this. It always has been my understanding that the only differences between Knob, Baker's and Booker's are age and proof, but otherwise it's the same distillate as Jim Beam White and Black.

"Small Batch" never referred to anything other than how much is dumped and bottled, and they never gave a number. Maker's tried to get people believing that "small batch" had to be 1,000 gallons or less because Maker's uses 1,000-gallon dump tanks.

Initially, something didn't "become" Booker's or Baker's or Knob until it was dumped, but a few years ago they started a wood management program in which they designate something as Knob, etc., when it goes into the barrel. That doesn't mean that any 9-year-old Beam whiskey couldn't be Knob, but it just helps them manage the aging better, so that at 9 years it is Knob, i.e., it fits the Knob profile.

I don't know the volumes, but I would guess that Beam Black outsells Knob.

I have it on good authority that everything that becomes Beam Black or one of the small batches is made at Clermont. The output of the Booker Noe plant (aka Boston) is all Beam white and stuff like Old Crow and Old Taylor.
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Unread postby bunghole » Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:47 pm

Hey Chuck!

What about that other Beamery in or around Frankfort :?: What do they distil :?:

Which Beamery is getting the new still/expanded operation :?:

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Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:49 pm

According to the late Cecil Withrow, admittedly not an "insider" but certainly closer to the source than thee or me, the first batch of Knob Creek, as identified on the label, was actually the last of the National Distillers' Old Grand Dad product purchased by Beam. They never intended to prolong the profile so they advertised the Basil Hayden (using their own current Old Grand Dad recipe) as related to "Old Grand Dad", and simply let Knob Creek "become" regular Beam 9-year-old 100-proof. They didn't realize then what a hit it would become, but when it started to catch on they did all the right things to promote it.

We have it (on at least equally good authority) that Beam makes no distinction between the two distilleries and, although the employees at the Clermont plant like to think their product is superior, so do the employees at the Boston plant. The fact is that they're both the same. What may give that impression is that all of the plastic bottles are filled at the Forks of the Elkhorn facility, and those would include all of the Old Crow and all of the 1.75 liter bottlings. I think all of the Old Taylor, too. Since that's a lot of the Boston production, the idea that all of their whiskey goes there is often quoted, but actually only MOST of it does. The original Bookers Bourbon was produced at Boston, of course, and we have no reason to think that the current Booker's offering isn't also made there.

If Beam had realized early on that anyone would be interested in such details as where the whiskey was fermented or distilled or aged or anything, they could have really developed the differences between Boston and Clermont much more than they did. I think they missed out on a good opportunity by deciding to minimize the differences.
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Unread postby gillmang » Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:29 pm

Well, John's comments confirm in my mind the superiority of the initial KC bottlings. That whiskey was outstanding and now I think I know why.

However they have done it, KC really does preserve a different profile.
It may be that 9 years is the bright line, the point at which that distinctive anise/orange rind taste transmutes into something different. Maybe there is another explanation, whatever it is, KC always (and I have had many samples - it was one of the two whiskeys I identified semi-blind at the recent SB taster of the year event) tastes fundamentally different to me than every other bourbon in the Beam line up including its other top whiskeys such as Booker's and Baker's.

At times, KC has been goodish but ordinary-like (still without the anise notes). At other times, including recently, it attains a good round smoky character with green apple and maple-like notes but nary a hint (that I can detect) of the Beam bourbon signature...

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Unread postby bunghole » Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:48 pm

ima just adores Knob Creek & Jim Beam Black. They've become so expensive that I can only enjoy them a time or two a year as a bourbonic splurge.

But I rate them both a solid Bleeeee :!:

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Unread postby gillmang » Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:11 pm

Beam Black sometimes gets a dark fruit character I like a lot. Other times it seems more in the "anise/orange" area I've been referring to. But it is good, well-matured whiskey.

One of your comments about KC from years ago on another board I will never forget: "a party in the mouth".

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Unread postby bunghole » Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:29 pm

gillmang wrote:Beam Black sometimes gets a dark fruit character I like a lot. Other times it seems more in the "anise/orange" area I've been referring to. But it is good, well-matured whiskey.

One of your comments about KC from years ago on another board I will never forget: "a party in the mouth".

Gary


YES!

Thanks for remembering. That's why I write. Knob Creek just slays me.

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Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:40 pm

Gary, the minute I read that I remembered Linn's posting. Thank you. I'm so glad his comments are available on this forum now.
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Unread postby bunghole » Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:16 am

EllenJ wrote:Gary, the minute I read that I remembered Linn's posting. Thank you. I'm so glad his comments are available on this forum now.


Thank You John, for your kind comments.

I'd much rather write wide open, but have grown weary of seeing thinly vailed plagerisms show up in international publications under the bylines of many well known whisky-writters.

Intellectual theivery angers me, but if I put it out for free on the internet then I have done their work for them and written it better than they ever could have now haven't I?

That's why I don't do it any longer. Now I only comment in a very mundane way, and with-hold all of my signature 'sonic' commentary.

More's the pity.

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Unread postby cowdery » Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:00 pm

I was involved with the SBC at the beginning and Cecil (on this and many other things) didn't know what he was talking about.

Nothing is distilled by Beam in Frankfort. Old Grand-Dad is used for warehousing and bottling. Boston doesn't have any bottling so whiskey is dumped there and tankered to either Clermont or Frankfort for bottling.

Although I reported what I was told, I agree with John. I don't think there is any difference between Clermont and Boston, and they use them interchangeably.

All of the expansion, at least in terms of distilling capacity, is going on at Boston. They've also built several new warehouses and expanded their water treatment facilities there. It's simply geography. There just isn't any more land at Clermont nor any to speak of at Frankfort, whereas they've got a lot of land at Boston and not much nearby. I was surprised when I heard that some of the neighbors were complaining about the expansion. What neighbors? Actually, there are a couple of houses behind the Beam property, but that's it. It's about as empty out there as it gets in Nelson County.
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Re: Small Batch Collection from Jim Beam

Unread postby dickelfanaustralia » Thu May 03, 2012 7:10 am

Im correctly drinking the Beam small batch 6y port finish 40%. it like it stops at the front of corn and rye socked in heavy port. it just sticky there. nothing much else happens to say WOW.
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