Jim Beam – Spark Plug Bottle – 100 Months Old – Straight Bourbon Whiskey | 40% (80 Proof)
Background: Unfortunately I cannot take any credit for finding this, my first dusty bourbon. My neighbor was cleaning out his late father’s storage unit and found this unopened Beam spark plug shaped ceramic bottle. He generously offered to open it with me. A few weeks later I brought over some Four Roses Single Barrel for comparison and crack it open we did. From further inspection it seems to be from around 1976 and was aged for one hundred months. That makes it a little over eight years old and similar to Jim Beam Black. Please take note of the classy environment where we proceeded to open this heirloom. You have to love a nice garage/laundry room drinking session.
Color/Appearance: A nicely darkened amber. Dare I say it, but this looks rather bourbony. Very cool spark plug bottle with deadly shiny metallic details. Too bad these things likely have some lead in them and are widely considered risky to consume. Oh well, I will just have to proceed for the sake of the blog, and of course my curiosity.
Nose: Buttery, a bucket of latex paint, freshly cut lumber complete with sawdust, dried peanut shells, and sun tan lotion. Weird but strangely alluring.
Palate: Thin and watery. Light caramels, copper metal wire, and vanilla wafers. Simple and solid. Easy to drink and rather unmemorable. It almost a shame that the latex note from the nose didn’t show here. Feels strange to say that, but I recently noticed that note in some Old Forester Birthday Bourbon and found that it was to my liking. Not really liking the weak low proof and the notes of metal I am getting.
Finish: Medium in length with a flash of black pepper, heat, dry oak and sweet corn syrup. A tingle of menthol and tobacco at the end. Its shorter finish seems about right for the style. Nothing here that I would want lingering for a long time.
Overall: Rather uninspiring and kind of a letdown. I was expecting something from another era, deeper and richer. What I found was something that is easily outclassed by all the bourbons I have had recently. This stuff was demolished by the Four Roses Single Barrel that we had that same night. I don’t have much experience with Jim Beam’s standard offerings and probably should have grabbed a mini of the Black to compare this to. There are some bottles similar to this one floating around out there that have a higher proof and may contain something more pleasing. Not sure I am going to risk the lead poisoning to find out, since there are certainly much better bourbons on the shelf currently. I may seek out a few other brands of dusty bottles but the era where that sort of collecting was easily possible has passed. Sometimes it takes a look back to the past to help you realize how good you have it right now.