Review: Jim Beam Vanilla

Review: Jim Beam Vanilla

Let’s start with the caveat. The bottle may look like whiskey, but that’s not what Jim Beam Vanilla is: This is a vanilla liqueur with bourbon added, not the other way around.

You wanna know who’s into it? Mila Kunis.

Jim Beam’s global brand partner Mila Kunis is excited about the new innovation. Kunis will be featured in social and digital content around the official campaign launch this fall.

“I’m thrilled to collaborate with my friends in Kentucky to debut Jim Beam Vanilla,” said Kunis. “If you’re like me, you love the taste of bourbon but are sometimes looking for something a little different. Jim Beam Vanilla is perfect when I want a touch of flavor.”

I, however, do not exactly see it the same way.

The nose of Jim Beam Vanilla is intense with chemical aromas, a saccharine, vanilla-like sweetness with overtones of canned green beans. On the palate, nothing feels authentic. There’s a kick of bittersweet orange, caramel, and plenty more of that iffy vanilla flavor, which winds its way ever so slowly toward a chemical-candy finish. Sipping it solo, it’s surprisingly hard to choke down much at all. Sure, I could see putting a drop or two of this in a dessert cocktail or a splash into a glass of cola, but on its own there’s really, well, nothing to like about it.

Your mileage may vary. But while Kunis is totally on board, there’s no word yet from Kid Rock.

70 proof.

D- / $16 / 

Jim Beam Vanilla




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. shuhlann on November 4, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    I’m trying the Jim Beam Vanilla for the first time tonight. I am by no means an expert, and I can’t drink very much. But I like bourbon, whiskey, and brandy. And I love vanilla. So I was looking forward to trying this.

    After my second shot, I thought, “this is a liqueur!” It’s light and candy-ish, not whiskey-ish. Christopher said it better than I can. I just know I’m disappointed.

  2. Rod Murray on November 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    While I’m not quite as down on Jim Bean Vanilla as Christopher is, (I almost blew some of the stuff out my nose when I heard described the “overtones of canned green beans”), but I do agree, the vanilla overpowers what should be a nice Bourbon flavor. There is nothing subtle about it. It’s like drinking vanilla extract with a dilute Bourbon palate cleanser followed up by another shot of vanilla extract. This is not serious whiskey with moderate vanilla overtones which was what I was hoping it would be.

    • Jesse Deadwood on December 8, 2021 at 5:12 am

      This isn’t really whiskey. It isn’t meant to be. It’s Jim Beam trying to cash in on all the money to be made from liqueurs. If you’re looking for whiskey, then this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a good quality vanilla flavored liqueur to put in cocktails then this is actually pretty good. As an actual whiskey it isn’t even worth rating, because thats not what this even is. But it’s a 8/10 for me as a mixer. This is actually made using real vanilla with it’s multiplicity of flavoring compounds compared with synthetic vanilla flavor that you would typically find in most vanilla flavored alcohol. So, it’s actually pretty good quality for the price. But again, this isn’t whiskey.

  3. Judy Wotasek on January 21, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    OMG! my husband was a Makers Mark lover but the new Jim Beam Vanilla has crossed him over. We both love the smooth flavor-doesn’t even need ice! Thank You!!!

    • Jeff Fliesen on February 3, 2018 at 9:52 am

      Makers Mark is my favorite for Manhattan’s and I do love the new Jim Beam Vanilla even though I didn’t know at first that it was a liqueur. I don’t agree with the reference of the “overtones of canned green beans” as I can’t stand any canned veggies because they have this tin taste & I’m just not seeing that or any hint of that. I can see why Mila Kunis might be into it, as it’s not as strong as a full out bourbon yet still has those oak hints with a stronger vanilla bean taste of the regular Jim Beam yet very smooth. Other favorites of mine are Buffalo Trace & Larceny as I tend to like more of not just the seasoned oak flavor, but love the vanilla & caramel flavors also.

  4. Tom on December 4, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    It is candy sweet… kind of like the honey bourbons… but I occasionally enjoy the vanilla aroma and taste over a couple cubes of ice. “Canned green beans?” WTF? Besides, we can them in glass…. no metallic flavor.

  5. Gary on September 10, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Yep taste like vanilla liqueur with bourbon added.

  6. Josh T on January 30, 2020 at 6:42 am

    I am ashamed to admit it, but I fanally tried try this for the first time a few days ago. This is clearly not bourbon. Fake vanilla and a synthetic flavor that I can’t really place. With Coke, maybe, but not too much – it ruines the Coke. They may have even tried a little too hard to fix it by adding too much sugar. I am a Jim B. fan, but this one needs to be stripped from the Bourbon list.

  7. Richard K Kjar on February 29, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Lovin it!

  8. T on July 2, 2020 at 11:03 am

    JB Vanilla is absolutely terrible. JB Honey is my go to.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.