Jim Beam Bottled in Bond (1976 export)

Having recently reviewed a 1977 Jim Beam White Label, as well as a modern iteration, I figured I’d strike while the iron was hot and review a 1976 export. Curiously, this whiskey is bottled in bond at 86 proof. Uncommon nowadays, but allowable by law. Sláinte! (export cheers)


Pour: 1976 Jim Beam Bottled in Bond Bourbon (export)
Proof: 86
Age: 5 years
Color: amber rose
Nose: butterscotch, apple cider, frosted pastry
Taste: vanilla candy, butterscotch drizzle, light oak
Finish: moderately short – caramel, candied pear, faint spice


Overall: I’ll have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. While far tastier than today’s Beam, it’s a notable step down from the 1977 80-proof domestic bottling. I can only assume the bottled-in-bond “one season” clause limits the batch to younger bourbon.

Rating: One-trick dusty.

Jim Beam White Label (1977)

You don’t hear much about dusty Jim Beam Bourbon. Perhaps it’s because the label has changed very little. Perhaps it’s because people see so much of the modern iteration, a vintage bottling conjures little excitement. I know I felt that way, until a generous friend stepped in.


Pour: 1977 Jim Beam Bourbon a/k/a “White Label”
Proof: 80
Age: 5 years
Color: dense rosy copper
Nose: butterscotch, maple syrup, heavily steeped tea
Taste: funky molasses, blood orange, blackberry jam
Finish: moderately long – brown sugar, burnt caramel, oak char, dark citrus


Overall: To say I’m stunned is an understatement. It’s virtually everything I seek in a vintage whiskey profile, packing it all in at a “whopping” 80 proof to boot. Curiously, this ‘77 Beam has a finish akin to today’s Knob Creek Single Barrel. Noe kidding.

Rating: An awakening.

Jim Beam White Label

Here’s one we all know – Jim Beam “White Label.” In my pre-enthusiast days, this was bourbon (as in the only bourbon that existed). I’ve come a long way since, but I must admit, I carry a strange fondness for this classic label. Memories … good and bad in the very best way.


Pour: Jim Beam Bourbon a/k/a “White Label”
Proof: 80
Age: at least 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: nutty vanilla, caramel popcorn, nutmeg
Taste: vanilla, buttered corn, lightly roasted nuts
Finish: moderately short – toffee, mild oak char, faint spice


Overall: Look, I’m not going to try to convince you that you should buy this whiskey. It is what it is, but what it ain’t, is awful. The early bourbon snob in me would’ve snarked. That early bourbon snob was an ass. Jim Beam does the job it was made to do.

Rating: Party bourbon.

Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Once labeled “small batch,” Baker’s Bourbon was rebranded as a single-barrel expression in 2019. Thankfully, it maintained its 7-year minimum age and signature 107 proof. But what of its flavor profile? Does it occupy similar territory? I suppose that now depends on the barrel.


Pour: Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon b. CL-D-186433
Proof: 107
Age: 8 years, 6 months
Color: copper
Nose: English toffee, nutty caramel, orange peel
Taste: vanilla extract, sweet oak char, maple-citrus
Finish: long w/ molasses, brown sugar, dense baking spice


Overall: An ideal combination of age and proof, not to mention a profile that stands out among its Knob Creek cousins. For $60, Baker’s Single Barrel has far more to offer than its specs suggest – richness, depth, and well-balanced bourbon character.

Rating: Dark horse.

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut

Part innovation, part obligatory liquor store window wrap, it’s Jim Beam Devil’s Cut. But seriously, what is it? Essentially, whiskey extracted from staves of emptied barrels batched with standard Beam bourbon. (If it were good, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?) Moving along.


Pour: Jim Beam Devil’s Cut
Proof: 90
Age: at least 4 years
Color: dense copper
Nose: whole-grain bread, sharp vanilla, sappy oak
Taste: polished leather, black pepper, astringent spice
Finish: moderate length – Splenda, singed maple syrup, walnut shell


Overall: Imagine similar oak notes to Knob Creek, only sharp, astringent, and strangely bitter, that’s Jim Beam Devil’s Cut. Unpleasant, yet admittedly drinkable, it’s exactly as the name implies. But let’s give the devil his due – there’s worse for $20.

Rating: Tolerable Hell.

Knob Creek 9 Year

Having reviewed Knob Creek 12 and 15, it seemed only appropriate to review the affordable and widely available 9-year expression. If it weren’t for Wild Turkey 101, Knob Creek might just be my table bourbon. But then, I’m spoiling this review. Let’s do this right.


Pour: Knob Creek 9 Year
Proof: 100
Age: 9 years
Color: rich amber
Nose: nutty toffee, vanilla, sweet citrus
Taste: brown sugar, zesty oak, baking spice
Finish: moderate length – caramel, nutmeg, mild pepper


Overall: I don’t just like Knob Creek, I love it. It’s not going to win major awards or destroy competition twice its price, but it doesn’t need to. This is the profile an everyday bourbon should be. No youth, no tannins, just 100-proof, $30 goodness.

Rating: A modern classic.

Knob Creek 12 Year

2020 was a banner year for Knob Creek bourbon. Its original 9-year age statement returned, a reasonably priced 15-year limited edition was released, and a new 12-year expression was introduced. Having just reviewed the 15-year, I thought I’d give the 12-year a go.


Pour: Knob Creek 12 Year
Proof: 100
Age: 12 years
Color: dense copper
Nose: honey-roasted peanuts, maple, orange tea
Taste: caramel-apple, brown sugar, baked cinnamon
Finish: moderately long – dark fruit, sweet charred oak, autumn spice


Overall: Possibly the most well-balanced Knob Creek expression I’ve tasted. While there’s maturity, there’s an equally present fruitiness not commonly found in Knob Creek Single Barrel selections of similar age. For $60, Knob Creek 12 is a winner.

Rating: Right on the money.

Knob Creek 15 Year

The best thing about Knob Creek limited edition releases is they’re relatively easy to find. 2020’s Knob Creek 15 was no exception. For $100 one could – and still can – purchase a 100-proof, 15-year Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (sans sourced whiskey mystery bullshit).


Pour: Knob Creek 15 Year
Proof: 100
Age: 15 years
Color: dense copper
Nose: woody cherry, fragrant oak, Coca-Cola Classic
Taste: earthy vanilla, chewing tobacco, sweet sassafras
Finish: moderately long – singed plum, clove gum, leather


Overall: I can’t help but compare Knob Creek 15 to the slightly younger but cheaper Knob Creek 12. While I generally prefer the 12-year’s profile, I remain impressed with the 15-year’s surprising elegance. This is well-aged bourbon done right.

Rating: Mature, meticulous.

Old Tub

A not-so-attractive name with important historical significance. Some folks call Jim Beam’s Old Tub “Booker’s Junior.” An oxymoron of sorts, but they’re not entirely wrong. Regardless, a bottled-in-bond NCF KSBW for $20. What can go wrong?


Pour: Old Tub
Proof: 100
Age: at least 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: peanut brittle, buttered corn, light baking spice
Taste: peppery vanilla, nutty caramel toffee, toasted sugar
Finish: moderate length – sharp vanilla, brisk oak, diminishing black pepper


Overall: It’s $20, better than Beam Black, and it makes a solid Old Fashioned. Knob Creek it is not, but then it’s not supposed to be. Old Tub is decent whiskey at a budget price. It also looks good sitting on a shelf next to bottles triple its price.

Rating: No complaints.