Think the Kentucky Derby was your only excuse to visit Louisville this year? Think again. You'll likely be flying into the city to go fetch a bottle of Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece ($200). This limited-edition release is available only at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont, KY, roughly 30 minutes outside Falls City. As for the booze itself, it's a potent 100-proof, extra-aged in the optimal rack-house position as determined by Master Distiller Fred Noe, and then finished in PX sherry casks to give it a unique dynamic all its own. Smooth, rich, and full-bodied, it will arrive in its own wooden case that's sure to become a highlight of your liquor shelf.
Uncut and unfiltered, Booker's Bourbon ($50) is a must have for any true bourbon lover's liquor cabinet. Created by 6th generation Master Distiller Booker Noe — also known as Jim Beam's grandson — this drink is bottled straight from the barrel, and comes in at 121-127 proof. Yes, that's quite strong, but thanks to the oaky, smoky flavor and intense, complex finish, odds are you'll be sipping on each glass for as long as you can.
The words "devil" and "bourbon" do have many connections — especially to those who've felt like hell after a night of drinking the brown stuff, or for those old enough to remember prohibition — but never have they been paired quite so well. Jim Beam Devil's Cut ($24) is made by taking the bourbon trapped inside the wood of an emptied barrel (as you should know, the Angel's Share is what's lost to evaporation) and remixing it into an extra-aged blend to create a full-flavored, robust, yet surprisingly smooth 90-proof whiskey that will have you feeling plenty devilish in no time.
Not content to sip on his terrific standard bourbon, Master Distiller — and great-grandson of James Beam — Fred Noe decided to do one better and created Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve ($40). Aged nine years, just like its regular counterpart, Single Barrel Reserve captures the essence of Knob Creek in an even more flavorful, nuanced and smooth 120 proof blend that's best enjoyed one glass at a time, lest you end up in a creek with little recollection of how you got there. Our regards to Mr. Noe — we've been enjoying our complimentary bottle maybe a little too much.
Infused with natural black cherry flavors, Jim Beam Red Stag ($22) is a great choice for fireside sipping this winter. The slow infusion process adds just a hint of fruity taste and aroma to the traditional Beam bourbon flavor, with a smooth, slightly sweet finish that's even better than the standard for mixing up some cocktails — making it an equally good choice when stocking up for a holiday season get together.
Celebrate the history of an American classic with Jim Beam Distiller's Series ($24). This limited edition bourbon whiskey comes in collector's bottles, featuring the seven Beam family distillers that have run the company over the last 200+ years. Aged seven years, the spicy/sweet blend features subtle wood notes and a smooth, mellow finish. Damn tasty.
Perfected over 175 years ago, Bulleit Bourbon ($25) has, to say the least, proven itself. Made using a unique rye recipe and Kentucky limestone-filtered water from the Salt River, the small batch bourbon is aged around six years and provides a distinctive smoky smooth taste. We went through our review bottle alarmingly quick. Luckily, the flask-shaped, frontier-esque bottle is so cool you'll want to save it after the 90-proof goodness is long gone. The bottles are so cool, in fact, that they were used as props on Deadwood. How can you not approve of Swearengen's drink of choice?
Ah, Wild Turkey. We've had some great drunken times with this classic bourbon, and now its makers are celebrating its tradition with Wild Turkey American Spirit ($TBD). Produced in extremely limited quantities as a super-premium bourbon, the 100-proof, 15-year-old hooch will come in a great-looking unique bottle, complete with strip stamp seal and commemorative box. Cheers. [Thanks, Doug]