Jim Beam to bring back small-batch bourbons to UK

jim beam small-batch bourbons

Three super-premium small-batch bourbons from the Jim Beam distillery in Kentucky are being relaunched in the UK on-trade.

Through distributor Maxxium UK, the trio are Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s and Baker’s, which have not been officially available on this side of the Atlantic for at least 10 years.

They were introduced yesterday as part of the Jim Beam Crafthouse, a two-day experiential event on London’s South Bank showcasing the distillery’s “Bourbon Legends” including Jim Beam Signature Craft 12-Year old, Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek.

Baker’s is named after Baker Beam, great-nephew of founder Jim Beam. It is aged for seven years and hand bottled at 53.5% ABV. The Beam family’s secret jug yeast recipe, which has been used for over six generations, is responsible for the bourbon’s silky smooth texture and for balancing the bold, intense flavour with a consistently luxurious taste.

Booker’s was created by Jim Beam’s grandson, sixth-generation master distiller Booker Noe, originally for his own personal use. It is one of the only bourbons available today that is bottled straight from the barrel, uncut and unfiltered, yielding an intense flavour and nose.

With no added water, it is bottled at its natural ABV of 62.5%, although this varies slightly from batch to batch, and is aged for between six and eight years in barrels in the centre of the rack house where the temperature and humidity are judged to be ideal.

The recipe for Basil Hayden’s Bourbon dates back to 1796 and features a high proportion of rye. Basil was born in Maryland where whiskeys were traditionally made with a high proportion of rye and he adapted this by using a corn base when he moved to Kentucky to escape persecution for his Catholicism.

As it uses a higher percentage of rye than other distillers, the bourbon is smooth and mild bourbon with a slightly peppery taste and aroma, with ABV of 40%.

For the first time, the three bourbons have a unified bottle shape ensuring the small-batch collection is easily identifiable behind the bar. Basil Hayden’s label is partly loose, secured by a belt around the bottle, inspired by Roman Catholic priests.

Janice McIntosh, Maxxium UK’s marketing controller for imported whiskey, said: “Jim Beam’s small-batch bourbons will appeal to bourbon connoisseurs and consumers interested in exploring premium dark spirits.

“The collection offers three unique bourbons which embody the ‘Make History’ philosophy, perfectly displaying the wealth of history and craftsmanship in Jim Beam bourbons.

“The premium bourbon segment is a developing opportunity within the category and we are proud to offer customers and consumers the premium Baker’s, Booker’s and Basil Hayden’s bourbons.

“This unique collection will allow our customers to capitalise on the growth of US whiskey and offer something special to the growing contingent of American whiskey enthusiasts.”

Available from May 1, they come in 70cl bottles. In retail, the recommended prices are £53.99 for Baker’s, £63.99 for Booker’s and £41.99 for Basil Hayden’s.

Recommended serves include Booker’s in a Boulevardier, with Campari and vermouth, and Basil Hayden’s for a Manhattan:

3 parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 part Sweet Vermouth
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled whiskey glass. Garnish with a cherry dropped in or a lemon peel zested or flamed.

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