So we've reached the end of another Advent period, and another delicious calendar full of spirits from the lovely folk at Master of Malt. Although there have been one or two low scorers, overall it's been a thoroughly enjoyable collection (if a little Kentucky-heavy).
I was expecting something a bit special for the 24th and, if I'm honest, my heart sank a little when I saw the bottle. The name 'Jim Beam' always makes me think of their basic bourbon which is, well, not to my taste.
Of course, they make other bourbons too, and I quite enjoyed their Devil's Cut - so perhaps my gut reaction isn't entirely fair.
Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece is about as far from the standard Jim Beam as you can get - aged longer and finished in Pedro Ximenez casks. I'm always a sucker for whiskies aged in PX, and I'm struggling to think of any other bourbon that's been given this treatment.
The nose definitely has some dried fruit aromas - dates and raisins - but it's not as pronounced as you might expect from the sherry finish. Beneath that are toffee apples, polished wood and more alcohol than the 50% ABV might suggest. Water strengthens the woody aromas, and softens the fruit.
In the mouth it's richly caramel with more dates, with a disappointingly rough spirit background. Watered, it's much more approachable - the roughness is gone, the caramel lingers nicely and there are suggestions of dark plums and a pleasant spicy tingle.
It's not a bad bourbon, especially with water - but it's not as special as I was hoping, or that the price might suggest. 2.5 stars.
Many thanks to Master of Malt for providing their excellent Bourbon Advent Calendar this year.
This review was originally published 24th December, 2015. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.