The answer is yes.
There is a difference between bottom shelf bourbons. The difference is simple: Jim Beam is the best. It's bourbon (Jack Daniels is not), it's crisp and clean, and at $13 you just can't mess with it. And it's our lifelong companion when it comes to shooters.
We'd like to put Jim Beam white label in a blind tasting against some of the $60/bottle craft bourbons on the market today. We think it would probably do pretty well. Mental note...
Anyway, a friend sent us a sample of the higher end Jim Beam "Signature Craft Series" so we figured why not? We'd put it to the test...
What They Say
Jim Beam Signature Craft Bourbon Whiskey Rare Spanish Brandy Finish is a limited edition bourbon that pays homage to a bourbon that was released in Australia. Rather than finishing the bourbon in casks that were previously used to mature brandy, Jim Beam Signature Craft Rare Spanish Brandy is made by adding a small aliquot of rare Spanish brandy to the bourbon. As a result, the bourbon has sweet notes of dates, raisins and figs that give way to graceful notes of caramel, vanilla and cinnamon. The finish is gentle and satisfying, with a crisp, sweet finish.
What We Say
Nose: Pleasant if a little too sweet, it's got a lot of honey, red grapes, rock salt and char.
Palate: In our professional opinion: It ain't bad. That's about as far as we can go. It's like Beam with a little sweetness, a little more polish, and a little sherry/grape thing going on.
Finish: Nothing too notable here either. It's very smooth, which is to be expected at 86 proof (but can't be taken for granted) and has a fairly nice lingering finish of cherries and honey.
Meh, skip it. Hope we don't sound like jerks here, but this is something for someone who knows absolutely nothing about whiskey to buy as a present because they recognize the brand and it costs a few extra bucks. It you're a whiskey fan (and if you're reading this, you're probably a whiskey fan) then there are so many better choices for the money (Smooth Ambler, Four Roses, and EH Taylor come to mind). If you're a big Beam fan and a big brandy fan, maybe this is for you, but we don't know anyone who fits that description.
Here's what you do...
Instead of spending $40 on this, buy a bottle of Jim Beam white label for $13. Then buy a case of PBR for $16. You'll still have enough cash for a suitcase of White Castle. And make it THAT kind of night. You deserve it. Cheers/SB