Whiskey Review: Hardin’s Creek Colonel James B. Beam

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Jim Beam. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The bourbon family tree would not be complete without James Beam. In May of this year, James B. Beam Distilling Company celebrated more than 225 years making bourbon. At the celebration, the First Family of Bourbon will be expanding on their legacy as they open the Fred B. Noe Distillery. At the helm of the distillery is Freddie Noe, the late Booker Noe’s grandson. 

Freddie is the eighth Beam generation master distiller. He took his father’s vision, who the Fred B. Noe Distillery is named after, and actualized it. Although Fred Noe regretted not distilling alongside his father, Booker, he now gets to run the family business with his son. At the newest distillery, all the practices, recipes, and whiskeys fully draw from centuries of family history. 

A great example of this is the new product line, Hardin’s Creek. In 1795, Johannes Jacob Beam set roots in Kentucky by this water source. Beam built a mill along the creek to grind the corn and grain of his earliest mashes. Without Hardin’s Creek, the legacy of the Beam name would not be what it is today. 

The Hardin’s Creek line features two Kentucky straight bourbons: Jacob’s Well and Colonel James B. Beam. The whiskies are annual limited releases, but the Colonel James B. Beam is the younger of the two whiskies. Its title honors the man we all know as Jim Beam. Like the new Fred B. Noe Distillery, the Colonel built anew after the repeal of Prohibition. He made the James B. Beam Distilling Company what it is today, and now Freddie is building on for the future. 

Hardin’s Creek Colonel James B. Beam is taken off the still at a lower distillation proof in order to achieve depth for a young age. This is the same method the Colonel used after he got the Clermont distilling up and running in 120 days. Don’t be fooled by the short maturation compared to the Jacob’s Well. The Colonel James B. Beam is full of flavor and complexity and proves Freddie is a master at what he does. 

Hardin’s Creek Colonel James B. Beam review

The first Hardin’s Creek whiskey releases from Jim Beam (image via Beam-Suntory)

Tasting Notes: Hardin’s Creek Colonel James B. Beam

Vital Stats: 54% ABV, 108 proof. A 2-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon. 750ml $80.

Appearance: Chestnut

Nose: Saigon cinnamon is abundant at the beginning and lasts throughout the dram like fresh baked cinnamon rolls. Dried apricot comes through adding a tender ripeness to the nose. Mint and baby powder mingle in the middle, whereas marzipan and graham cracker give a nutty quality near the end. Smoked vanilla wafts in and out throughout the nose, but most notably at the end.

Palate: Cherry and hot cinnamon remind me of refined Hot Tamales candy with the touch of dried oak I pick up on the palate. Once the sweetness of brown sugar hits, that is also when the stone fruit comes through. It goes from candy to creamy oats. The finish is spicy with a little added orange zest.

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