If you’re a bourbon whiskey-loving individual, chances are you’ve heard of Jim Bean Black label and White label before. Both of these whiskey varieties are made by the same company however they have some distinct differences between them which give the drinker an entirely new experience with each sip.
Like with all whiskey selections currently on the market, these varieties consist of all the regular elements that you would expect in a bourbon mix. Corn, rye, wheat, and more are all integral parts of the flavor profile and taste that you get when drinking any of these whiskey selections.
What differs between them however is the method used in their production and aging process. For those serious whiskey connoisseurs, the intricate tastes and flavors infused in the mixture are what draw you into buying the bottle, to begin with, so knowing exactly what your whiskey selection contains beforehand can assist you in making the right purchase decision.
Both of these bourbon selections share many of the same core ingredients and overall production steps however Jim Bean has slightly altered some aspects to provide a clear distinction between both of these options.
If you’re looking for a high-quality whiskey option but haven’t been able to find the perfect selection for your preferred taste methods, both or either of these options may be optimal choices for you. Deciding on which one of these bourbon selections will meet your exact taste needs and flavor preference will require that you know everything in the blend and other variables that impact the overall quality of any whiskey option but especially these selections.
Whiskey bourbon is one of the most intensely regulated liquor options available for sale on the market. While most alcoholic beverages can be made in a relatively fast amount of time, bourbon and whiskey must meet very strict requirements before it can even be sold legally on shelves. The Jim Bean brand itself has a very rich history in the bourbon whiskey industry as a whole which adds even more authentic backstory to all of the liquor varieties that they offer.
If you’re someone who has been looking for a premium bourbon whiskey selection to consume but has n’ been able to find the perfect drink, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re going to cover some of the main differences, similarities, and in-depth characteristics about both the Black & White label so that you will be able to make the right decision about which variety is right for you.
Our personal favorite for multiple reasons is Jim Beam White Label, but we will dive into why it is our favorite later.
Before we get into the details of each selection, we’re going to take a look at the history behind the company to give you a better understanding of their intended production goals and what main influences impact the flavor options they decide to produce.
Behind the Bottle: Jim Beam
Jim Bean was started by German settlers who migrated into the United States in 1740, the family was known as the Boehm family. They had an exceptional vision to live out their fullest potential during the colonial era which is what ultimately led them to move to an area now known as central Kentucky just 48yrs after they initially arrived on American shores.
This would prove to be an ideal location due to the abundance of limestone springs nearby in addition to the climate being perfect for whiskey bourbon production.
The story behind the brand
Originally, the Boehm family’s primary focus was on growing and cultivating corn since at the time prohibition hadn’t occurred yet and alcohol consumption was still sort of “wild west” industry. however, in the 1700s many other families had already begun producing whiskey primarily in what is now known as Western Pennsylvania. They achieved this by using recipes which they brought with them from their country of origin is that most of them were primarily of Scotch, Irish, or German descent.
During this time period, the United States government would begin offering incentives for those individuals who moved west in order to produce corn. One of those individuals happened to be Jacob Beam who used his father’s distillation methods and whiskey making recipes to convert his unused crop into fine bourbon that was much sweeter than most of the other options available at the time.
In 1795, Jacob Beam would begin selling his whiskey bourbon and it was this same year in which he made his first sale of Old Jake Beam Sour Mash. This was ironically only three years after Kentucky had officially become a state and once the town got a taste of what Jacob was distilling, they were hooked. One of the distinctive factors about Jacob’s bourbon was that it was one of the most popular selections in an area that was already saturated with over 2,000 distilleries.
This was all right before the 1800s which is the time period in which bourbon whiskey production and consumption reached a new high. In 1820, Jacob Beam gave his distillery over to his son David Beam who would have to deal with the challenges of government regulations, taxation, and legalization which are all factors that his father didn’t have to deal with during his time as a bourbon maker in the 1700s.
An interesting thing to note about the distribution of whiskey during this time is that it was nearly impossible to transport the barrels of finished liquid across the country like we do today. Because of this, people interested in getting their hands on some bourbon would have to go to the distillery themselves and fill up their bottles directly from the barrel. David Beam, however, had an impeccable aptitude for foresight and knew that the business would begin to expand rapidly which is why he enlarged the floor space of his distillery to prepare himself for the production demand he would soon experience.
Shortly after, the invention of steamboats and trains were being implemented into the society which allowed distillers to begin shipping their bourbon selections outside of state lines. This time period also denotes a very interesting point for the bourbon industry because many distillers were beginning to run out of barrels to store and transport their products in, because of this, many distillers resorted to using old vinegar and fish barrels for bourbon storage and transportation. As you may expect, the left-over residue of the previously stored content ruined the bourbon do distillers thought of a clever way to solve the problem which was charring the barrels.
This is how the use of charred-oak barrels became a prominent practice in the bourbon industry as we know it today. All of this is what led to the Jim Bean brand that we all know and love and today, over the years there were advancements to the production and bottling process which increased the overall production rate and quality of the liquor produced by the company.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the main differences between the Jim Bean black label and White label selections that you can find on store shelves near you.
The Main Differences Between Jim Bean Black Label & White Label
As stated before, both of these varieties have similar production steps and requirements however the ingredients and aging process varies significantly. These small differences in ingredients impact the overall taste and flavor that both of these selections have. To help you make the right decision about which one will fit your specific taste needs and flavor preferences, we’re going to go over some of the key differences between both of these brands below.
Make sure that you read this entire section in full to ensure that you will be able to make an educated purchase decision about which one of these bourbon varieties will be perfect for you.
All of these small differences have a huge impact on the taste and overall flavor of the whiskey that you select which is why you should really consider these variables before making your final purchase. Depending on your preferred flavor profile and tasting notes, you will likely prefer one of these selections over the other one so consider some of the existing bourbon selections that you consider to be your favorite so that you can base your selection off of your pre-existing preferences.
These differences are ironic in the fact that they achieve the exact goal of the distillery which was to provide to contrasting bourbon options that are on the complete opposite ends of each other. They also make for some great tasting bourbon selections that go well with a lot of different foods and other drink options that you can mix these bourbons with.
Both of these bourbon options are packed with very rich and deep flavors that accentuate the existing flavor of the raw mixture from which they are fermented and distilled. To give you a more realized view into the composition of both of these bourbon selections, we’re going to go over some of the main ingredients infused into both bottle selections.
Main Ingredients: Jim Beam Black Label vs. White Label
While they do have different labels, both of these whiskey bourbon selections have many of the same ingredients. In the following section, we’re going to go over some of the main ingredients that you can expect to get a taste of when selecting either of these varieties for your next drink.
Although both of these whiskey selections do have many of the same ingredients, they do vary in specific tasting notes and flavors which is something you’ll want to take into consideration before selecting your final preferred variety.
Regardless of what brand you select, there are very specific guidelines that whiskey bourbon options must meet to be legally sold on the market. Every bourbon on the market must contain at least 51% of corn and it must also include a certain percentage of barley throughout its mixture to be classified as a whiskey bourbon.
They must also include hints of rye and malt which is what gives the mixture that texture and flavor that we’re all familiar with. With these Jim Bean varieties in question, they contain a specially formulated stands of yeast which has been used in the production of their whiskey bourbon options since the prohibition era.
The recipe used in the making and bottling of the Black and White label dates back 75yrs although there has been some revision made to update the overall taste and flavor of the final product. The mixture used to ferment and cultivate the final product in these particular whiskey bourbon selections is known as a sour mash which contains 25% of the initial mixture used in the previous batch of bourbon. This allows the distillery to maintain a sense of uniformity in terms of taste from one batch to the next.
As with any other whiskey bourbon on the market, Jim Bean Black Label, and White Label as distilled two times before they are ever placed inside of a barrel. The FDA requires that all bourbon distilleries age their product for a minimum of 2yrs in order to meet and comply with federal standards. The charring of barrels is what gives the bourbon its core flavor and taste of caramel hints and a rather mellow flavoring.
Jim Bean typically tends to stick to the same distillation process and bottling process so even though they offer many different options to choose from, many of them follow the same formula with minor changes to the ingredients so this is something that you’ll want to take into consideration before making your final purchase decision.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the main ingredients and flavor profiles that you can expect to encounter when opening a bottle of these selections, it’s time to look at the core deciding factors of what makes these bottles significantly different from one another.
In-Depth Look: Jim Bean Black Label vs. White Label
We’ve gone over the main ingredients included in every mixture of the Black and White label, now it’s time to get into the core details about what makes these options so different from one another in terms of taste and flavoring. In the following section, we’re going to provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of all the variables and factors that you need to consider when choosing either of these bottles for your next glass of whiskey.
The Black Label is aged for a minimum of 8yrs before it ever makes its way into an actual bottle. The proof rating of this whiskey is around 86 proof and it contains approximately 43% alcohol content which is relatively low considering the alcoholic content of other popular whiskey brands on the market.
The alcohol content is a rating determined on the basis of it being per volume so you won’t be getting 43% alcohol per glass that you actually pour. The distillation process used in the making of this selection is very similar to the one used in the production of the White label which is why the flavor differences are considered more of enhancement rather than an actual difference.
Since this particular label is aged at a much longer period of time than the white label, the flavors are more embedded and deeply enriched into the mixture itself. The aging process of this label also gives the variety more of a refined taste when compared to the white label which is why the company markets this selection as a sip and serve bourbon option.
The White label, on the other hand, is aged for only 4yrs maximum which is double the requirement of 2yrs as stated by the FDA rules. The White label variety contains about 40% alcohol content per volume and has a proof rating of 80 which is quite a nice balance for those individuals experienced with bourbon and whiskey drinking. This blend has distinctive flavors of sweetness and mellow tones throughout which makes it a substantially more subtle selection than the black label.
It is a perfect option for those who want to mix their drinks as it combines great with a lot of existing drink options out on the market. Now, it’s time to look at the core elements that go into each of these bourbon whiskey options so you will be able to choose the right option for your preferred tastes and flavors.
Flavor Profile: Jim Bean Black Label vs. White Label
Now that you know a little bit more about the main ingredients that go into the mixture which makes these whiskey bourbon selections, it’s time to take a more comprehensive look at the overall flavor profile of both of these selections in order to help you make the best decision about which one is right for you.
Below, we’re going to take a comprehensive look at the flavor profile of both of these bourbon options to give you a better view into what you can expect when you open up a bottle.
Black Label Flavor Profile
This mixture contains a well-balanced yet quite intricate pallet of different flavors and tastes. At the core, you can sense notes of fudge, vanilla, and honey just to name a few of the core flavor elements. The fudge and vanilla perform an intricate balancing act which results in a smooth yet rich flavor that follows your tongue the entire way through.
This selection also has hints of dried peels throughout in combination with nuts to give you a deep and oak-like flavor. You will also find notes of aniseed which gives the black label a natural and textural component that is full yet light on the pallet. It also has a wonderful underlying taste of cereal sweetness which provides the perfect balance to the blend overall.
When it comes to the overall palate of this whiskey, it has a very robust taste that is thick and rich yet very full and refreshing at the same time. This particular selection has a high amount of rye content which adds the signature bourbon taste that you would expect in addition to being infused with various different cooked fruits which provide an almost sensual aroma to the whiskey. You will also notice hints of oak spice in this blend which adds the right combination of smoothness with an opposing element of rich wood texture and aromas.
The honey is one of the last parts of the mixture that you will notice with its subtle undertones of sweetness infused throughout the entire bottle. It even has notes of butterscotch and crème anglaise which provide the final layer of rich texture and delightful taste elements to the mixture. For those that are looking to experience what a truly full whiskey bourbon selection tastes like, this is a great option to choose.
White Label Flavor Profile
The White label goes through a distillation process which allows the mixture to be distilled at a percent no greater than 62.5%. That means that it has a more refined flavor profile when compared to its black label counterpart, the mixture also contains very high amounts of rye within it which makes for a great tasting mash bill. Overall, this blend contains elements of sweetness and rich texture thanks to the wide array of different ingredients infused inside of it.
The blend contains hints of cut hay and vanilla which add a very light yet deeply rich texture. Although the blend has a light taste on the palate, it’s very full and deep without being too overpowering which is the perfect balance. The body of the bourbon is very subtle yet also complex thanks to the simple yet bold flavors incorporated into it. It also has notes of fresh corn fields which give the selection an airy texture that is palatable for even the pickiest of whiskey drinkers.
To top it all off, it has hints of cereal sweetness which gives you a little taste of the fields of Kentucky in which the selection is processed and bottled. It also has notes of oak sprinkled throughout which balances the intensely rich flavor profile that is dominant throughout most of this bourbon. Of course, it also has touches of crème anglaise which gives the vanilla a backup in terms of filling out the spots on the palate which the vanilla may glance over when sipping.
You will also find very small hints of resin and oak flavoring in this blend in addition to its sweetness which makes it a little more earthy in some areas without sacrificing the richness of the predominantly sweet body that is found in a majority of this blend. It also has flavors of pepper and spice integrated into in the blend which provide an offset for the sweetness although they all combine to create a truly unique and rich flavor profile that you won’t find in any other bourbon on the market.
To finish it all off, this blend has hints of acetone which provides the right amount of sting on the tongue for those who don’t want to sacrifice their alcoholic flavor which most people love in terms of bourbon options. If you’re looking for a light yet robust bourbon option that is smooth and rich on the palate, this is definitely one that you should consider giving a try.
Now that we’ve gone over the main flavor profile of both of these selections, it’s time to give you our take on which option is best.
When it comes to deciding on which of these bourbon options is best for your preferred tastes, the only way to truly tell is by experiencing both of them for yourself. After our research, we like the Jim Bean White Label over the black label for a few main reasons. The richness of this particular bourbon is something that we’ve never experienced with affordable whiskey before, it is full yet very texturally rich in terms of the way that it hits your palate. The nice undertones of vanilla and spice work together to provide the perfect balance of flavors which pop with every sip.
Its smooth texture encompasses the entirety of your tongue without feeling like it’s overpowering which is something that all bourbon drinkers can attest to loving. It has a nice and full body that is toasted with oak flavors which really bring out the existing richness and robust tastes that you’ll find in each bottle. The fiery acetone flavor underlines the entire mixture without blocking out the other core flavors which really bring this selection to life.
It’s sweet yet soft and refreshing which is a complex combination that Jim Bean has perfected in this selection. The airy tones that you find throughout this bourbon are very refreshing and add a nice sense of calm and ease to the bottle when drinking it. All in all, it’s a much lighter and less intense selectin than it’s Black Label counterpart which is why we choose the White Label as our preferred choice.
Now, it’s time to take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions that people have when it comes to deciding on which one of these bottles they should pick up for their next drinking event, party, or engagement.
FAQs About Jim Beam
After you’ve gone through all of the information listed above, you’re probably wondering to yourself, I still have questions and would like them answered but don’t know where to find them. Well, if you’re one of those people, you’re in luck because this section is going to be dedicated to providing you with all of the important you need to know about the key differentiating ingredients included in each of these bottles.
Q: Which selection has a higher alcohol content?
A: The Jim Bean Black Label has a higher alcohol content than the white label it also has a higher proof rating than its counterpart.
Q: Which Jim Bean variety is best for mixed drinks?
A: The White Label is the best option for those interested in creating robust mixed drink options. One of the best pairings for this selection is Coca-Cola.
Q: Which one of these options is the most affordable?
A: The White Label is the most affordable selection out of both of these options.
Q: Which selection has the richest flavor depth?
A: The Black Label has the deepest and richest flavor out of both of these bourbon selections.
If you find yourself still asking questions or would like to know even more about both of these bourbon options, consider visiting the official Jim Bean website to learn more information. Alternatively, you can also visit a local liquor store or spirits shop in your area to see if the representatives can provide you with samples of these selections before you actually buy one.
By now, you know everything that there is to know in terms of the main differences and similarities between the Jim Bean Black Label and White Label bourbon whiskey varieties. We’ve gone over all of the most important tasting notes, flavors, and ingredients that go into each bottle of these selections, which you can hopefully use to assist you in making your final purchase decision.
If you’re already a bourbon drinker and are looking for a new variety to try, consider all of the aspects and elements about your current favorite whiskey selection so that you can compare it with these options to see which one contains your favorite aspects of a good Whiskey.
As long as you take into consideration what your primary taste preferences are and how you prefer to drink your bourbon, you will be able to make the right decision in no time. Whatever option you choose, it’s important to remember that you should always practice safe drinking practices and always consume alcohol responsibly.