Jim Beam “Black” 8yo (43%, OB, Circa 2004)

Jim Beam white was my first Bourbon ever, in fact is was my first Whiskey ever! Especially for the money I always considered the bulk produced White quite decent. Later in my “career” I bought this Black label, which looks more serious and brooding. Just like a bride stands out next to the Terminator. This used to be 8yo, and it said so on the label, but todays version became a NAS. I don’t think it got much younger, but this way, I guess, the company has the possibility to mix in some 6yo and 7yo Whiskies.

Jim Beam BlackColor: Light copper orange.

Nose: Honey, and lots of it. Nice creamy wood. Vanilla. Very friendly and appetizing. Whiffs of burning newspaper, and sometimes a tiny, tiny whiff of fireworks. Toasted cask, but again, not much. The honey never takes a step back, its omnipresent. The more time you are able to give this the more the wood comes to the front. At twice the age of the “White” that should hardly come as a surprise. Well balanced stuff. Still, after the wood, caramel and toffee show themselves more as well as some white pepper and some, wait for it… rural organics. This is pretty good, considering the price and the industrial amounts that are made of this.

Taste: Quite light. Floral. Honey again. After a short delay that warm honey runs down my throat, quickly turning into slightly burnt sugar and oak. Very friendly and not the big hitter the label seems to promise. Definitely family of the White label, with more of everything, just maintaining the friendliness of it all. Extremely easily drinkable. Creamy vanilla and honey again. Quite sweet and lovely, with nice woody characteristics. Oak stays behind after you swallow. Not very complex, but very well-balanced. Especially when given some air and time. Mellow stuff.

The profile of Jim Beam Black fits that of Evan Williams Single Barrel, but half the price. I have to say I don’t know how a more recent “Black” will perform, but this 2004 bottling performs just nicely. Compared to Binny’s Buffalo Trace, the “Black” has way more honey, and seems soapier, which is something I haven’t picked up on, trying it by itself. The Buffalo Trace is more strict and in a way more fruity and even better balanced. I guess now it becomes a comparison of yeast strains. Jim being more floral and the Buffalo being more fruity.

Points: 80

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Nikka Pure Malt Black ‘Smoky and Mellow’ (43%, OB, 50 cl, 08J12C)

Well yes, why not have a go at another Japanese Whisky. This time a true Pure Malt or Blended Malt. It is not very hard to guess from which distilleries the Whiskies originate that make up this Blended Malt. Yes you’ve guessed it: Yoichi (for the peat) and Miyagikyo (for the fruit). Black is one out of a series of three. The other two are Red (predominantly Miyagikyo, Rounded and Smooth) and White (predominantly Yoichi, Smoky and Peaty). Red is supposed to be blended with Malt Whisky from Scotland, as White is supposed to be blended with peated Whisky from Islay.

Nikka Pure Malt BlackColor: Light orange gold

Nose: Lots of vanilla, smoke from burning of branches with leaves and a lot of moisture. Also some red fruits. Fat peat and custard. Excellent combination. Children’s clay, strong and spicy wood. When given the time to breathe the nose stabilizes. Seems like young Whisky to me.

Taste: Vanilla with a peppery attack, transforming into a Whisky from a Cream Sherry cask. Hard fruity candy. Full, likeable and strong flavor for instant gratification. Actually not very refined. Not bad, but like the Akashi reviewed earlier, the finish is not the strongest point of this Japanese Whisky. Some kind of peppery heat (smoke) stays on the roof of my mouth, but at the same time you have a pretty short finish down my throat. Curious. There is a fruity sugar-water coating that stays behind in the mouth. Needs air to develop.

It seems to me this product is made with a lot of young Whisky from first fill casks. First refills are needed for longer maturation to make a better Whisky. Interesting. As I said before. Whisky not for analyzing and to fuss over. Just sit back and enjoy. It will grow on you. Probably also good Whisky for cocktails!

Points: 82