Today, I bought the cheapest bottle of bourbon I have purchased in some years. Old Tub, is a bottled in bond bourbon from Jim Beam that used to be sold only in pints at the distillery, but long ago was that distillery’s flagship brand. They have now done a limited release in fifths all over the country, with a price point of $20 a fifth.
This is, no kidding, a limited edition bourbon. I attach hereto my receipt to show that it was $19.99. Because normally a non-chill filtered bottled in bond bourbon would normally cost $40 to $75.
So, what do we know about this bourbon? I know based on research that this bourbon is made from Jim Beam’s low rye mashbill (think Knob Creek as opposed to Old Grand Dad and Basil Hayden’s), and by virtue of it being bottled in bond we know it was made at a single distillery by a single distiller during a single distilling season (a year), and that it has been aged at least four years. We also know from the label that they took this out of the barrels and ran it through a screen to get the wood chunks from the barrels out, but that is it. I have raged against chill filtering for a long time, as it ruins a lot of great bourbon from Wild Turkey and Jim Beam. I could give a damn if my bourbon gets cloudy on the rocks. I drink it neat or in cocktails so I don’t care how it looks over the rocks. I am convinced that chill filtering hurts the flavor of the bourbon.
Color on this is a straw amber; so we are definitely in the four to five year range as advertised. On the swirl though is a nice film with thick thick long legs. You can tell this bourbon wasn’t watered down much. The nose is traditional bourbon, some caramel, slight vanilla, candy corn. On the palate, the mouthfeel is medium, similar to Baker’s from the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, and the flavors are candied corn, peanut brittle, light vanilla extract, and then Hot Damn Schnapps, which turns to cinnamon red hots on the finish. The Jim Beam peanut taste is there, but it isn’t funky at all – it’s the peanut brittle note and it is good- and I attribute this to the lack of filtration. The more I sip on this the more I like it. Yes, it is missing the oak notes, mellowness, and complexity of an older bourbon. However, I recently had (because I had no other choice) some Jim Beam White label at a fundraiser, which I took neat. To my palate, it was not drinkable. Old Tub, however, is very drinkable and indeed enjoyable neat.
For final thoughts, yes, you should pick up this limited edition bourbon for $20. It is stupid good for the price. It is a shame this is limited edition, and so I just inquired about getting a case before it is gone. But, this delightful bourbon just confirms what I have been thinking for the last few years, and that is that every major distiller should just stop chill filtering their whiskey. It just completely ruins the flavor, particularly compared to what you gain – it doesn’t cloud up when poured over ice. I am just not sure I care if my whiskey gets cloudy when it is cold; I just want it taste good.
If Jim Beam can put out this good of an unfiltered bottled in bond bourbon at $20 a bottle, then there is a huge amount of pent up bourbon greatness in the major bourbon distilleries. Drinking Old Tub, I am aghast at thinking of the great tasting bourbon that is being run through a chill filter machine and ruined. Kudos to Jim Beam for putting this bourbon out there. I can only hope that other major distilleries follow suit in putting affordable unfiltered bottled in bond bourbon into the market, even if prejudicial to their mainstay brands. Bourbon connoisseurs everywhere would be grateful, but I also think the general drinking public would too.