This past February a cadre of young, good-looking spirit scribes were assembled at Beam’s brand new Global Innovation Center, a $30 million compound with an aesthetic somewhere between a high-tech office and the Hall of Justice. Many new products were premiered for our consideration and tasting. However, the diamond in the rough which caught our eye was the new Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Years Old. I was extremely fortunate enough to receive a preliminary sample; bottles will be shipped to market this coming August.
Similar to many of the Beam extensions (Beam Black, Devil’s Cut), the 12 Year Signature Craft is reminiscent of the flagship white label and boasts many of the qualities which make Beam so popular and drinkable. At first it is heavy on traditional bourbon vanilla, with hints of honey and a bit of chocolate cutting through almost immediately. While lighter on spice and heat than Devil’s Cut, the taste is still quite warm, on the sweet side, and every bit as smooth as you’d expect from a 12 year old American whiskey. On the back end, spice lingers for a bit before an oaky finish wraps things up quite nicely.
This will be the first installment of the series, which we were told by master distiller and all-around great guy Fred Noe will include various finishes over the coming years (though specifically what kinds were held close to the vest by Noe and Beam executives).
Beam has always prided itself on the company’s innovative spirit and the proof is in its activity over the past few years: the small batch collection, Devil’s Cut, and Jacob’s Ghost being but a few examples. The 12 Year is a nice addition to the family, continuing Beam’s legacy of creative variations the flagship brand.