Bourbon Breakdown: Jim Beam Small Batch Collection

September 7, 2023

When folks first begin their bourbon journeys, it’s natural to begin with more everyday bottles which are easy on the palate and the pocketbook. But when you’re ready to graduate to the next level, you’d be wise to include small batch bourbons from a company founded over 200 years ago: Jim Beam.

Perhaps you’re not aware, but the term “small batch bourbon” is a fairly recent addition to the whiskey lexicon. In fact, it was coined by sixth generation Master Distiller Booker Noe who held the job at Jim Beam from 1960-1992. The Jim Beam Small Batch Collection first came about in 1992 when Baker’s, Basil Hayden, and Knob Creek joined Booker’s Bourbon on shelves and into bourbon drinker’s hearts.

Although the bourbons in the collection are all made by Jim Beam, each one is quite different from the other both in flavor and in proof. So if you’d like a bit of information about each bottling to determine which one is more your speed, we’ve got just the thing for you. You’ll find a few facts and tasting notes for the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection below to help you decide which one is next on your to-do list.

Booker’s Bourbon

This bourbon was the first ever small batch bourbon upon its release in 1987. Of course the name comes from the man who created it: Booker Noe.

What to Know:

If high octane bourbons are your thing, step right on up. Booker’s Bourbon is uncut and unfiltered, meaning it’s full-flavored and is bottled at barrel proof. Bottlings are released as batches so they will vary in proof and age as well as in flavor. And though the ages vary per batch, they all bear age statements of at least 6 years. In recent years, Beam has released them with batch names such as “Granny’s Batch” and “Off Your Rocker” instead of just batch numbers.

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Like a crisp autumn day; rich caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg and leather.

Avg US Price: $110
ABV: 60-65%

Jim Beam Small Batch Collection: Booker’s BourbonBooker’s Bourbon

Basil Hayden Bourbon

The bourbon is named for Meredith Basil Hayden Sr., a whiskey pioneer and rye farmer in the 18th century. Fun Fact: Although Hayden’s name appears on this label, his face is on another bourbon brand for Beam: Old Grand-Dad (Raymond B. Hayden named it for his grandfather).

What to Know:

This 80 proof bourbon is made with a high-rye mash bill recipe, both of which makes it stand out from the others in the collection. It’s aged around 8 years, although it bears no age statement.

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Easy-drinking with light notes of brown sugar, leather and rye.

Avg US Price: $40
ABV: 40%

Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon

This bourbon gets its name after Baker Beam, a tenured distiller who worked at the Jim Beam Distillery for 38 years and Jim Beam’s grand-nephew

What to Know:

Baker’s Bourbon was formerly sold as a small batch release, but as of 2019 it has been repackaged and branded as a single barrel expression. However, it still has a 7 year age statement and it’s still bottled at 107 proof like the original version.

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Vanilla and deep, sweeter notes of cherrywood; well-balanced with lots of character.

Avg US Price: $63
ABV: 53.5%

Jim Beam Small Batch Collection: Baker’s Single Barrel BourbonBaker’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon

There are actually a few different Knob Creek bourbon expressions today including a 120 proof single barrel version and a 12 year bottling. In fact, the brand has a flavored Smoked Maple and a couple of ryes as well. However this 9 year bourbon is the flagship product for Knob Creek.

What to Know:

Although the bottling lost its age statement for a brief time (2016-2020), it is back to its original age statement of 9 years. Additionally, it’s bottled at 100 proof.

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Boldly spicy with flavors of maple, oak and vanilla.

Avg US Price: $34
ABV: 50%

Jim Beam Small Batch Collection: Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon

Ready to do your own Jim Beam Small Batch Collection comparisons?

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