This week’s bottle is Jim Beam Bonded, courtesy of Dan’s Laura. Thanks, Laura!
Bonded is a whiskey term we’ve seen before. To jog your memories, the whiskey meets an external government standard – the product of one distillery in one distilling season, aged 4 years in a government facility, bottled at 100 proof.
Why submit your product to a voluntary government regulation? Back in the day it showed your product met a higher standard of quality and purity, raising its profile over lower quality products with all kinds of adulterations which were the reason the standard was brought in. Which is the reason pretty much all regulations are brought in, to protect people from shitty businesses, don’t @ me.
But look at that definition: one distillery, one distilling season, aged 4 years. Bonded bottles could be the bourbon equivalent of a single malt scotch in terms of precision and specificity, so why was this $33 and bad tasting?
The standard really doesn’t say anything about the quality of the booze beyond how it’s made – one distillery/season could be one session of backyard distilling after all, with no mention of the quality of ingredients. And 4 years is twice as long as straight bourbon’s legal requirement (and 33% more than the general 3 years for whisky rule of thumb) , so despite being able to defer the taxes on bonded liquor, you’re still significantly increasing your time-to-profit. Bottling at 100 proof is 20% than the “standard” 80 proof, meaning fewer bottles from your distilled spirits. Plus, the fact that it’s government-approved booze means the people buying it probably aren’t looking for artistic variety but rather consistency, so there’s no point in putting your best stuff in bond. And they didn’t. Here’s what we thought:
Dan – strong alcohol with sweet caramel
Simon – sharp nose, caramel, carbon, oak, sweet
Julia – caramel, butter, alcohol
Dan – bitter woody caramel
Simon – sharpen burn, oaken, sweet, tang
Julia – burn, caramel, burnt butter
Dan – dirty water with caramel
Simon – lingering poison oak & burn
Julia – what Dan said
Dan – better, less sweet, less burn
Simon – better, tamed, sweet & simple
Julia – watered down, thin
Dan – 5.5/10
Simon – 6/10
Julia – 5/10
Try it? No. Buy it? For parties, sure.