Jim Beam Bonded

Mondays.  Nobody is excited for Monday.  Monday is never the best day of the week.  Then again sometimes, it’s worse than others—as was the case for me today.  I woke up early, and I freakin’ hate waking up.  I had to go to the dentist, which meant minimizing morning coffee intake.  I got my cleaning done, with a thorough thrashing of my gums and scraping.  Worse yet, I have to go back to get a filling.  From there I went to one of my favorite coffee shops to catch up on my chemicals, only to realize I had forgotten my wallet.  Onward to work in the pouring rain.  Work was guaranteed a stressful day, payroll reporting, though that went rather smoothly.  Not everything did, which meant—without going into any details—I spent a good hour dealing with someone in a less than pleasant mood.  That’s a touch of an understatement.  That’s a big understatement.  Fortunately, I made it through the day, made the gym, made it home.  Now, I would never be the one to recommend alcohol as a coping mechanism (hahahahahaha,) but I think it’s a fine night for a firm drink.  On the docket tonight?  Jim Beam Bonded.

Jim Beam Bonded is a pretty fresh release, hitting the shelves nationwide.  The first natural question, what the hell does bonded mean?  I imagine this is a pretty frequent question, as the term is rather specific and therefore rarely applied (aside from on my beloved Old Grandad.) Basically bonded, or “bottled in bond,” means that the bourbon comes from one distiller in one distilling season, has spent 4 years or longer in the barrel, and is bottled at 100 proof.  Simple enough, given the government involvement. So the real question here is, is it going to soothe my tattered soul (and taste good doing so?)

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That first deep whiff, more deep breathing exercise than nose, comes through robust, with a heavy cedar note, more than a touch of spice, some warm molasses and a lingering forewarning of booze.  The mouthfeel is surprisingly gentle with a rich warm oily consistency hiding the 50% of booze in here quite nicely, and the flavors that pop out are decidedly different than your standard Beam.  The profile, I would say, can best be described as dark, with a touch of leather and toffee resting on a solid backbone of char and toasted oak.  That leather clings on with an almost cigar like finish that is less aggressive than one would expect, pleasantly warming the throat as it winds down.  Overall, I’d probably describe this as old school, if I had any basis for that judgement.

Two fingers down, and it’s almost Tuesday.  Monday doesn’t hurt so badly anymore, except that brutal 3rd person flossing.  The takeaway here is that sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, a full sip, and let it go.  Other days are bonded days—a bit rougher, hotter, but worth the hassle in the end.

Baker’s Bourbon, or Why We Fight

It’s Sunday night.  If you’re anything like me, and innumerable other poor insufferable bastards your mind is now spent pouring every moment of your weekend trying to remember where the time went, what did you do, have you really spent the last 11 hours on that couch?  Then there’s that other thought, that lingering dread, that grim cloud of despair that threatens your next 5 days—a combination of the known and unknown sufferings to come.  Or maybe you like your job, in which case, bully for you—self-fulfilled prick.  At some wicked hour you’re going to be awakened by some unnatural thought.  You will roll out of bed, stagger through your morning without being able to enjoy the beauty that is your breakfast and coffee.  You will drive (in the snow, in my case) to the office complex, the job site, the sweatshop.  You’ll bleed for 40 hours as the phones ring, the shitfans spray, the meetings drone and the whip cracks.  Why, dear god why?! Why do we dedicate so much of our lives to something that we find so dreadful, even possibly loathsome?  The short answer—we need shit.

I’m going to really try my best to avoid a rant (rampage) against crass consumerism here; for the sake of your already tormented minds and for the sake of space.  Also, it doesn’t contribute to my point.  The point is, that we work, because we need to make a living.  Maybe some of us legitimately hate our jobs, maybe some of us love them, me, I find it far more tolerable while doing it than warrants my present dread.  I do it though, admitted, because I need to.  I do it because every two weeks a bunch of numbers show up on this website saying I can pay people money that I owe them for that piece of paper I paid way too much for.  That website also says I can eat stuff, and drink some nice booze.  If you couldn’t tell I’m rather fond of booze.  Which brings me to my next point: sometimes there are, emphasis on sometimes, little unexpected perks that make your work go from something you bleed at for 40 hours per week, to a part of your life.  There are times when there’s a reward, be that intrinsic or otherwise, that make Sunday night’s dread perhaps seem a bit unfounded.  When you’re able to make a little impact in someone’s life, when there’s leftover pizza up for grabs in the breakroom, or when you go that extra mile for someone and they go out of their way to thank you.  These are nice moments. Small joys, surely, but without them the shitfan keeps humming endlessly.

Where am I going with all this?  Did the title not give it away? One of those small joys happened for me over the holidays, when my team at work went out for a nice dinner and exchange of gifts.  Many of the gifts were alcoholic (ahh, numbing the stress), my boss kindly bought me a bottle of Baker’s bourbon.  Working with people that you enjoy the company of is quite nice in and of itself.  When they give you good bourbon?  Small joy.  To the point, what of the bourbon?

Baker’s bourbon is a Beam brand project, one of their premier line, running at 107 proof after spending 7 years on oak absorbing, let me tell you, some lovely flavors.  Perhaps that’s an understatement.  You see, the first whiff of Baker’s is warm, round, almost thick and chewy, if your nostrils can detect that.  There are luscious notes of caramel, honey, and an almost cedar like woodiness with some dark and rich spice notes.  I’m pretty sure this would for some manly cologne.  Ah, and to taste this.  Rich chewy molasses cookies are the predominant flavor with a bit of allspice, a touch of dark fruit and a hint of vanilla—the best way I can describe this is simply lustrous. The finish reveals that vanilla that had but hiding just beneath the surface and sinks softly down warming, melting away the tension, the fear that goddamn grim menace of tomorrow.

What it is all for?  It’s for those small joys, that leftover pizza, for those people who make work tolerable, and that special bottle every other Friday that lets you stop the droning, stop the bleeding—lets you reap your just rewards.

Jim Beam Single Barrel

I’ve been sitting on this article for a while–or laying off the last of this whiskey, at the least.  I’ve had a mental block, a loss of flow.  Shit, I haven’t got an angle on it.  I like to come at these pieces with a direction, a back story, something that brings me to a point on the whiskey.  It gives me the illusion of creativity.  Anyways, I haven’t really got an angle for this article, that’s my goddamn angle.  Pretty lame.  But you see, I’ve been working my ass off, draining myself, ever since I got back from Mississippi (which probably should be the source of some future angle).  Working 7 days a week does not seem to be the ideal creative fodder, for me at least.  Anyways, enough rambling to elongate your suffering.  To the point, whiskey. The good thing about working non-stop is that I can afford a decent bottle every once in a while to take the sting out of life.  This long delayed bottle?  Jim Beam Single Barrel. 

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Bottled at 95 proof, in this case from barrel 9/139 on February 18, 2014.  I think this bottle ran me just short of $30, which is right around the range of quite a few other f upper mid / sub-premium bourbons, yet twice the price of regular Beam and an Evan Williams more than Beam Black.  First off, nose: very soft, subtle orange and a light sweetness, but really very…ethereal?  I’m not sure I’ve ever found a lighter nose; I basically snorted this stuff to smell it.  The initial taste finds that citrus note fully expressed, with a tinge of acidity, and some dark sweetness that fades into a tad bit of oak, almost no vanilla and a lovely warming baking spice finish.  Overall, this is very tame at 95 proof, and very subtle and well rounded.  It’s as easy drinking as the other Beam labels tend to be, but it certainly is clear that they’ve gone to lengths in selecting their barrels.  My take away, my angle, if you will?  This is the perfect bourbon for an overwrought, overworked mind.  Easy drinking, subtle, so smooth you don’t have to think about it—just take a sip and it does the work for you. 

Review: Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Friends, boozers, and drunkards:  I have been privileged. When my father was tasked, once again, with the task of selecting a beverage for me to review he went overboard.  I could have expected him to take this as an opportunity to be cruel, to buy the cheapest of cheap Canadian whiskies to see what I would do. Hint: No whisky (Canadian spelling) goes to waste, no matter how awful.  Instead, as the headline indicates, he bought Basil Hayden’s.  As a poor young man a $25 dollar bottle is a treat.  Basil is a bottle reaching into the premium market.  Clearly I was thrilled.  First impressions: The bottle looks like something gift wrapped for Ernest Hemingway, aged and yellowed paper askew and held on with the manliest of ribbon and bow; a thin wood tie with metal letters riveting it together.  Image: check. The label also notes how Basil Sr. started distilling in Kentucky in 1796, so history: check.

Now, let’s tear out that cork with our teeth and take a pull.  This isn’t just any other bourbon.  On the nose there is a lot of sweetness and some brown sugar while also being a bit strangely minty—and that isn’t unpleasant. The mouth profile is clearly distinct, while holding many of those traditional chewy caramel and honey notes, a bit of oak char and some of those sweet soft candy notes from the nose.  Not insanely complex or overpowering, just sweet and tasty. What really strikes me with this whiskey is where the heat is.  I’ve been abusing my palette lately with whiskies in the magma range, so taking in some standard 80 proof seems quite tame—that is until Basil hits the back of my throat and shoots up my sinuses. That’s where all the burn is, it’s not hot on the tongue; just goes puff the magic dragon into my nose.  About a week ago I had a sinus infection (I’ve been away, hence the not posting.)  I couldn’t breathe from my nose at all.  So I took one of those baths that makes you sweat, drank 3 cups of high strength French press coffee and a few drams of Basil Hayden’s.  I came out wired, buzzed, and breathing.  Every sip cleaned my sinuses out.  Whiskey is the best kind of medicine. And caffeine. And whatever actual medicine I may have taken.

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Yes, Basil Hayden has a halo, all whiskey should.

Anyways, let’s wrap this up with a manly bow like the Basil bottle.  It’s tasty, though extremely complex, standard strength, but with an unusual burn.  It’s an unusually crafted whiskey.  I like it, and it seems like one of those whiskies that will have a cult following, devotees to whom nothing else will meet their exacting demands.  I’m glad those people have their dream whiskey.  For me Basil Hayden’s is enjoyable, no doubt, but it isn’t something I’m necessarily going to seek out at its price point.  I feel like perhaps the fancy wrapping paper is perhaps driving the price of this whiskey higher than it should be.  Of course as a young broke man I’m still going to save the last dram of this bottle for a special occasion, because this is good classy stuff, and it looks great on a bar. It’s just not going to end up in the shopping cart every trip. Then again, maybe I’ve found a great cure for allergies…

Review: Jim Beam Rye

This is a rocker’s whiskey.  A bottle slides down the gullet and leaves a sweet caramel coating that won’t be there in the morning when you wake up wondering what the fuck happened to you.  It’ll come back slowly.  You’ll remember how this whiskey had just a touch of peppery bite, and little else.  It would make a marvelous breakfast slug, your body won’t rebel, no convulsion in the stomach or throat.  Soothing with a coffee chaser.  Back to the night before, when you didn’t need a glass or ice.  You were on, all night, and it never hit hard.  Everyone was digging it, the part that you remember.  The music was perfect; the interplay brilliant, everything pulled together as if you’d actually been practicing.  Jim Beam Rye, easy going for those who go all night.Image