JIM BEAM REPEAL BATCH
Limited Edition (2018)
MASH BILL – 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
PROOF – 86
AGE – NAS (4 years at least)
DISTILLERY – Jim Beam Distillery
PRICE – $16
WORTH BUYING? – Heck yes!
I remember this coming out in 2018, and wondering why Jim Beam had made a mere 4-year bourbon, bottled at a mere 86 proof, a special “limited edition”…? That it was non-chill filtered didn’t seem a justification either. Even in 2018 there were already a great number of non-chill filtered options on the shelf.
I bought a bottle… and loved it. At once I understood why it qualified as a special release. One could find it from $20 on down to $10 fairly easily, it sported an attractive old-timey label, and it was good. Not mind-blowing. Not even unique. Just good. Twice I brought a bottle to a party. On both occasions, everyone drank it neat and loved it. It was a true party bourbon through and through—cheap, fun to pour, fun to drink, genuinely tasty.
With all the bourbon out there to be had these days, one would think those sum-total specs should be common. Sadly they’re not. Especially not in 2022, but already not in 2018. Hence “limited edition.”
Now that’s my explanation, as a consumer and bourbon fan. The Jim Beam marketing department puts it another way. This limited edition release was made to honor their namesake, Jim B. Beam, and his first batch of bourbon made at the newly rebuilt Clermont distillery in early 1934, just four months after Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933. The non-chill filtered status hoped to “harken back to the big, robust flavor of post-Prohibition whiskey”—when bourbon was back on the shelves after a 14-year limbo, and cheap!
Finding this suddenly in abundance at a local shop four years after its 2018 appearance, it occurred to me a new batch might have been quietly released in anticipation of Repeal Day. My inclination is that this was indeed a one-timer. But a couple cases showing up out of nowhere is peculiar. And the Jim Beam website markets pull-quotes from customer reviews as recent as October 2022. That all the reviews listed appear to come from individuals and their personal social media accounts may be a point in favor of the one-time release likelihood, since a new release would surely prompt new “official” reviews from magazines and prominent whiskey YouTubers. It could also be a marketing tactic to emphasize the accessibility and intended lack of pretension around this release, by showcasing reviews from regular drinkers.
In any event, as long as Repeal Batch keeps turning up I’ll keep picking up a bottle. What better way to toast this year’s anniversary of Repeal Day, the annual day to celebrate one of America’s rare returns to sanity? I could raise a glass of the similarly old-timey Remus Repeal Reserve, but that stuff has now crossed into the three-digit price point—not classy. Tasty non-chill filtered bourbon for under $20? Classy.
So here we are, just about two weeks after uncorking (uncapping, actually) and three pours into the bottle. These brief notes were taken using both a simple tumbler and traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – pale honeyed ambers
NOSE – light sugary baking spice, both redskin and roasted peanuts, dried orange peel, dried raspberries and cranberries, freshly sanded oak, light buttery caramel
TASTE – peanutty, the orange peel becomes more vibrant, mild oak tannins blend with the baking spices
FINISH – creamy mainstream peanut butter, baking spice and oak tannin, orange slices in fresh water
OVERALL – among the best basics going
Though the Glencairn does pull out more vibrancy from the nose, Repeal Batch seems more at home overall in the simple tumbler. The flavor notes are basically the same in both glasses. But that extra bit of heaviness to the tumbler’s thick glass base gives a grounding feel to the light and bright bourbon notes.
Repeal Batch is altogether very classically “cheap” in its overall impression. It’s that kind of cheap that’s very satisfying, like when you’re in the mood for a small town Dairy Queen burger and fries and nothing better (or better for you!) will suffice.
Nothing more to say. Get a bottle if you see one.