The final sample was Jim Beam Black Label. At 86 proof and 8 years of age, it is my understanding that this is the same juice as Jim Beam White Label, except aged twice as long. I am personally not a really big fan of Jim Beam, but I thought I'd throw this in the tasting as something of a ringer. The results were interesting, especially for Jason. The notes:
Nose is green and vegetal. Light and woody notes to begin with, plus a little bit of spice and some bite on the back of the tongue. Short finish, very little lingering taste; what there is is wood and spice.
This is a nice, light whiskey with enough bite to distinguish itself. Quite herbal on the whole without much sweetness at all.
Color and nose: A deep bistre brown through the center, paling through to the edges. This looks like a whisky with something to offer. The nose is luscious, providing bits of rye, bananas, salty caramel, leather, and just a hint of corn. It seems to have more of a punch than most of the recent tastings, but not more (much more at least) than 100 proof.
Taste and finish: The initial taste is strong in peppery spice and sweet corn. The bananas and caramel come through with grass and oak. A strong drink and yet the flavor is quite round, stimulating the entirety of the tongue and roof of the mouth. The finish arrives as a sort of smoke ring of brown sugar and that peppery, rye-like spice, radiating from the back of the mouth to the fore as the last of the taste goes down.
Overall: This is an exceptional whisky. It is complex, but is not complicated. Contrasting flavors – spice and sweet, desserts and nature – are balanced in a refined manner rarely seen in a whisky. They are not only balanced, they manage to amplify each other. This is the Titian of whiskies. I am reticent to rate any whisky as classic, this one included, and give this one a high 94/100. A truly excellent whisky.
Nose: fruity and bright with cherry or pomegranate
Taste: dry and slightly peppery; the fruit is still there, with some oak
Finish: fruit dissipates to reveal some sweet smokiness; tobacco
Note: My notes are going to be biased, as I've already admitted, I typically dislike Jim Beam. Since I purchased the bourbon, I knew what this one was prior to drinking simply by elimination.
Nose: Yeast, cornstalk, earthiness, bread, slightly astringent, popcorn
Taste: Cloyingly sweet, thin mouth feel, very slight barrel influence. It's just very sweet and one dimensional.
Finish: Not much of anything. Maybe a hint of barrel flavor.
Overall: 70. Nothing to see here--just a bland, cloying bourbon worth drinking only if your wife leaves you and takes your dog with her. After a few sips, I drowned mine in Diet Coke.
Final Words: Something of a polarizing bourbon. Outside of a blind tasting, I don't even think it would have done this well, which is one of the awesome things about blind tastings. Jason found a bourbon that he really enjoys for about $20 a bottle. You really can't beat that.