In A Nutshell
Jim Beam Original and Red Stag by Jim Beam. We all know the former – its been around for over two centuries. The other is a bit of a new kid launched earlier this year.
What they say
Jim Beam Original
“American as apple pie and a testament to quality, tradition and passion, Jim Beam is the best-selling brand of bourbon in the world. Seven generations of craftsmanship go into every bottle, along with corn, rye, barley malt, water, time and pride.”
Red Stag by Jim Beam
“It’s a brilliantly bold combination: through a slow infusion process, our distillers start with fine four-year-old Jim Beam Bourbon and then complement its distinctive taste with hints of natural black cherry flavour.”
What We Say:
The Original Jim Beam has its fans for a reason: it’s a lovely rich spirit with delicious caramel and toffee notes on the nose, going on to wake up the mouth rather nicely with a creamy, luxurious taste of fudge. It’s a winter drink for me – ideal for sipping by the fire, either over ice or in an Old-fashioned.
Red Stag is a different animal altogether. It’s distinctive in its fruitiness – even from the initial inhalation from the glass you can tell its going to be sweet, this is confirmed in full by the taste. They say its infused with natural flavours which it may well be, however, to me it tastes rather synthetic – sorry. It’s obvious this is aimed at a very different market – much younger and definitely female.
It works better in the Cherry Manhattan, although there’s no getting away from that cherry – either in the aroma or the taste. It probably wouldn’t cut it with true Manhattanites but the sweeter, softer, fruitier Red Stag works rather nicely here, in fact I rather like it and I imagine other women would do, too.
Jim Beam Original comes with a wealth of heritage but let’s park that for now. There’s some appealing sweetness on the nose with hints of caramel and oak. The taste is satisfying full and round in the mouth with a little sweetness, giving way to the oak. The power of the alcohol is strong but with a smoothness which lasts all the way through the long finish. According to Fred Noe (seventh generation Beam family distiller) who we met on a recent visit, you can enjoy Jim Beam anyway you like “Cut it with water, orange juice, coke, whatever brings the taste you want – anyone asks why, tell them Fred said so.” A refreshingly unpretensious approach, but I liked it best in a Manhattan – big flavour, the JB sitting well with a little sweetness from the red vermouth.
As for the Red Stag, well this is a whole different proposition. The sweetness of the black cherry is what hits you in the aroma straight away, though the characteristic richness of the Jim Beam does come through. Likewise the taste is predominantly that fruit then the JB. Similarly I tried it in their Red Manhattan and the overall sweetness was too much for me. I can see the cleverness of introducing this expression of the classic – the rich sweet fruitiness will probably go some way to bringing new people into the category but it’s all a bit too much for my palate. I’ll be sticking to the original thanks.
Seven generations of the same family have presided over Jim Beam since Jacob Beam sold his first barrel of whiskey back in 1795. It became known as Jim Beam Bourbon thanks to the 4th generation gentleman of the same name who rebuilt the distillery in 1933, after 13 years of prohibition wilderness, in just 120 days.
1-3/4 parts Jim Beam Bourbon
3/4 part sweet vermouth
Add 3/4 part sweet vermouth to 1-3/4 parts Jim Beam Bourbon in a manhattan glass. Add a cherry. Optional: add 1 dash bitters.
2 parts Red Stag by Jim Beam® Infused Bourbon
1/2 part dry vermouth
1/2 part sweet vermouth
Prepare in shaker over ice. Strain into Martini glass with long stem. Black Cherry Garnish.
Jim Beam Original 40% ABV, £19.19 for 70cl bottle. Red Stag by Jim Beam 40% ABV, £26.57 for 70cl bottle. Available nationwide.