Jim Beam vs Jack Daniels

Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniel's

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 25, 2022 
Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's are two of the most popular Whiskey brands in the United States. And that certainly is already reason enough to check how both these American Whiskeys compare.

Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's are two of the most popular Whiskey brands in the United States. And that certainly is already reason enough to check how both these American Whiskeys compare.

Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniel's: both are giants in the American Whiskey market and have a seemingly indestructible fanbase all across the globe. But have you ever wondered what the differences between those two are? If so, let me help. I will show where those two famous Whiskeys differ.

That includes comparing the regions where the Whiskeys come from, the various versions, their bottling proof, and reputation. If you're looking for a thorough comparison between Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's or want to purchase either one as a gift, you've come to the right place.

Here is my comprehensive breakdown of two of the biggest Whiskey producers in the United States. 

Looking at the key differences: Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniel's

First, let's have a closer look at the main differences between the two Whiskey brands in this short summary of Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniel's.

  • The type of Whiskey: Jim Beam is a classic Bourbon Whiskey. Jack Daniel's may taste and smell like a Bourbon, but it is a sour mash Whiskey classified as a Tennessee Whiskey.
  • Their origin: Both from the US, Jim Beam's roots are in Kentucky, whereas, famously, Jack Daniel's home is Tennessee.
  • Time of aging: Jim Beam usually is aged four years.Jack Daniel's is said to age between 4 and 7 years. However, that duration is more of an indication. It could be longer or shorter, depending on when the spirit acquires the desired taste.
  • The proof: Jim Beam is bottled at 86 proof (43% ABV) while Jack Daniel's is slightly lower at 80 proof (40% ABV).
  • The taste: Due to the higher amount of alcohol Jim Beam tastes a tad more alcoholic. Jack Daniel's is less fruity than Jim Beam but more mellow and smooth.

Jim Beam

Jim Beam is standard Bourbon Whiskey from Kentucky. And not only is it one of the most famous Bourbon brands but also the best-selling Bourbon in the world. And even that doesn't directly translate to best-selling Whiskey worldwide, Jim Beam still outperforms brands like Bulleit, Wild Turkey, Maker's Mark, and Evan Williams. 

The biggest market for Jim Beam is, of course, the US. But also in Europe, especially in Germany and Australia, the Kentucky Bourbon is selling very well. The main reason for this is the value you get for your money. You receive a decent quality Whiskey with quite a small price tag.  

The brand Jim Beam was established in 1795. And what many people don't know, the first Jim Beam distillery was not founded by a family actually named Beam. Instead, the founder of the Bourbon Whiskey brand was a German called Johannes Boehm. However, in an attempt to make his name more English-friendly, he changed his name to the more Anglo-American version Beam. 

And another widely unknown fact is that the Whiskey's name was not Jim Beam right away. Initially, it was named “Old Tub.” It took until 1943 to rebrand it to Jim Beam, to honor not only the family but especially Colonel James B. Beam, who sadly passed only a few years later. 

Jim Beam Bourbon was managed and produced by the Beam family for seven generations. But in 2014, Jim Beam was sold to a Japanese group called Suntory, most famous for their Japanese Whisky. And Suntory has more to offer. It is a gigantic privately held company owning many different spirits brands. And by acquiring Jim Beam for $13,6 billion, the portfolio of spirits became even more enormous. 

Santory's brands include: 

  • Jim Beam
  • Knob Creek
  • Maker's Mark
  • Canadian Club
  • Courvoisier
  • Pinnacle
  • Yamazaki
  • Hakushu
  • Bowmore
  • Midori
  • plus many, many more

Jim Beam tasting notes

Pouring classic Jim Beam Bourbon into your glass reveals its clear and deep golden to copper color. It only turns cloudy when adding ice to it. And the nose is sweet with notes of vanilla, caramel, corn, and oak, complemented with a slight breeze of fresh-cut hay.

Overall the taste of a Jim Beam is relatively thin, almost watered down. Its flavor is not as bold as that of its competitors. But it still carries detectable notes of vanilla, corn, and oak. And it also has shows hints of spice and pepper to it as well as a subtle sweetness from the corn. The finish is dominated by toasted oak and sweetness. And again, vanilla, corn, and also caramel shine through.

The Jim Beam Lineup

Starting with only one product in 1795, Jim Beam today offers a whole variety of products. Check out the options of Jim Beam that are available at the moment.

Jim Beam White Label

Jim Beam White Label

ABV: 40%
Age: 4 years
Tasting notes: Vanilla, oak, and subtle notes of tropical fruits
Price: $18

Jim Beam White Label is a solid budget Bourbon. It's a decent entry-level option for people new to Bourbon, as the affordable price and the low ABV make it pretty approachable. However, considering the weak taste, there are better options for just a few dollars more.

The nose with notes of corn and light fruity notes is quite typical for a Bourbon. And the usual Bourbon flavors of oak and vanilla can be found, too. But overall, this spirit lacks complexity and has harsh alcohol notes even though it is only 80 proof.

Jim Beam Green Label

Jim Beam Green Label

ABV: 40%
Age: 5 years
Tasting notes: Caramel, vanilla, and port
Price: $40

Green Label is aged a bit longer than the classic White Label offering. Also, it's much smoother and more complex than the standard bottling of Jim Beam. The smell shows notes of caramel, vanilla, and hints of pepper, and on the palate, you get more vanilla notes, port, and subtle spice.

Altogether this spirit is not overly complex but a great everyday Bourbon. But the increased quality comes along with a higher price point.

Jim Beam Black Label

Jim Beam Black Label

ABV: 43%
Age: 6 years
Tasting notes: Oak, vanilla, pepper, and smoke
Price: $22

Jim Beam Black label's smell is intriguing. Light oaky notes mix with aromas of candied apples and vanilla custard. The taste is way less complex, though. The Bourbon is comparably thin in taste with strong notes of oak.

Apart from the oaky notes, you can also taste some typical vanilla and caramel. And even though it certainly doesn't taste bad, the flavor profile is just a bit more one-dimensional than the nose suggests. The finish has more oak, vanilla, and pepper, plus a smoky note that lingers quite long.

Jim Beam Rye - Pre-Prohibition style

Jim Beam Rye Pre-Prohibition style

ABV: 45%
Age: 4 years
Tasting notes: Grains, Caramel, butterscotch, citrus, and spice
Price: $23

Don't be fooled by the "Pre-Prohibition" on the bottle label. Jim Beam Rye - Pre-Prohibition style actually tastes like a regular Rye Whiskey. The nose is quite sweet and reminds a bit of Old Overholt's Rye. Notes of caramel, butterscotch, and toffee dominate the aroma.

On the palate, it's a different story. You can taste (raw) grains, vanilla, and quite some spice. But just like some other Jim Beam products, the spirit lacks complexity and follows more simple flavor profiles.

Jim Beam Devil's Cut

Jim Beam Devil's Cut

ABV: 45%
Age: 6 years
Tasting notes: Grains, Caramel, butterscotch, citrus, and spice
Price: $22

The Devil's Cut has a deep caramel-colored spirit dominated by a wooden aroma. Hidden behind that, you can also taste caramel, toffee, and dark fruit. For some, the strongly pronounced wooden notes might be too much. And I also think, even though the taste of wood is the whole point of this expression, it is a bit overwhelming.

On the palate, the wood is less pronounced. You get strong caramel notes and hints of spices like cinnamon. It's a beautiful fit for people who are into wood-forward spirits. For everyone else, this might not be an ideal choice.

Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece

Jim Beam Distiller's Masterpiece

ABV: 50%
Age: "Extra aged"
Tasting notes: Grains, Caramel, butterscotch, citrus, and spice
Price: once $190, now: $450+

The Distiller's Masterpiece is aged for an extended time. However, Jim Beam doesn't say for how long exactly. What we do know is that its deep reddish-brown color is coming from an additional aging step in ex Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.

As you would expect at this price point, the aromas and flavors of this premium Bourbon are complex. The nose shows spicy notes with dark fruit, cinnamon, nuts, and sweet caramel. On the palate, you clearly can taste the sherry coming from the sherry cask aging. You can also taste dark fruit, spice, marmalade, and even cocoa.

Overall, this is a beautiful Whiskey. Considering the steep price point (now), I would choose another Bourbon, though.

Jim Beam Signature Craft

Jim Beam Signature Craft

ABV: 43%
Age: 12 years
Tasting notes: Caramel, vanilla, oak, and cinnamon
Price: $52

Bottled and released in 2015, this premium Bourbon from Jim Beam is barrel-aged for 12 years. And this extended time in the barrel helped this Jim Beam expression. The small-batch release is full-bodied with a comparably complex flavor profile. 

The nose is typical with notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and oak. On the palate, you get a slightly more complex profile. Caramel, vanilla, spicy cinnamon, and oak dominate the taste.  

Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask

Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask

ABV: 43%
Age: 5-6 years
Tasting notes: Corn, cinnamon, oak, and caramel
Price: $60

The Signature Quarter Cask by Jim Beam is best enjoyed neat, and I recommend adding neither ice nor water to it. The dilution changes the flavor balance, but not for the better, and you end up with less sweet corn and more spice and oak. 

The price is a bit hefty, but still, this Bourbon is a good choice. -Especially if you prefer a dry, oaky, and vanilla-forward Bourbon. If you are an avid fan of the brand, this bottle is almost a must-have. If not, it is still a nice addition to your Whiskey collection. Should you be uncertain about it, go ahead and test in a Whiskey bar first before purchasing a whole bottle.

Jim Beam Single Barrel

jim beam single barrel

ABV: 47.5%
Age: Not stated
Tasting notes: Rye spice, apples, and vanilla
Price: $39

Jim Beam Single Barrel is a highly unusual release from the famous Whiskey brand. While most of their releases are quite similar in flavor profile, this one stands out. You can smell a bit of ethanol, but besides that, the spirit is intriguing, complex, and simply a great Whiskey to sip.

The nose is full of apple, rye, vanilla, and that bit of ethanol. Once you sip it, the ethanol is completely gone, though. Instead, you get a balanced mix of caramel, rye spice, and oak. The finish is sweet with more vanilla and caramel. 

Jim Beam Jacob's Ghost

Jim Beam Jacob's Ghost

ABV: 40%
Age: 1 year
Tasting notes: Vanilla, smoke, and charcoal smoke
Price: $18

Considering its price point and the fact that it is a large volume White Whiskey, Jacob's Ghost is a good option. It is creamy and smooth with floral notes and hints of vanilla. It also has a slightly smoky taste to it.

And compared to other white Whiskey in that price range, Jacob's Ghost performs quite well. The smooth and creamy taste makes it better than most competitors in that range.

Jack Daniel's

Time to get to Jack Daniel's. The brand is world-famous for its Tennessee Whiskey made from sour mash. The term "Tennessee Whiskey" got recognized by the government as a specific type of Whiskey in 1941. Therefore, the spirit is neither Rye nor Bourbon and not required to follow the guidelines for these types of spirits. 

Instead, they invented their very own distillation process. Plus, they managed to have the method recognized as a distinct variety. However, technically, Jack Daniel's still remains Bourbon, and the North American Free Trade Agreement lists it as Straight Bourbon, as well. 

Nevertheless, representatives and spokespersons of Jack Daniel's keep claiming it is not a Bourbon. In private, though, they probably would admit that their product does indeed tick all the boxes for being categorized Bourbon. 

After the distillation, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey undergoes a special procedure called the ‘Lincoln County Process.’ It means, for six days, the Whiskey drips in large vats through specifically made charcoal. This charcoal is obtained from burned maple wood and impregnated with high-proof Jack Daniel's Whiskey (140 proof).

Then, the Whiskey matures in new and charred oak barrels for approximately 4 to 7 years before being bottled at 40% ABV. At least since 2004. Before that, the famous Tennessee Whiskey had an ABV of 43%. 

Jack Daniel's tasting notes

The nose of Jack Daniel's is quite pleasant and sweet. The fruity notes of banana and apricot mix with vanilla and oak. In the background, some hints of corn add more aroma to the mix. Overall, a pleasant way to prepare you for the first sip.

On the palate, you get that typical Jack Daniel's mix. Meaning, something pretty unusual and thin, with a relatively low ABV, but somehow still fun to sip. That's especially remarkable when you consider the low price point. When tasting the Whiskey, you are greeted by a wave of sweet corn and banana flavors. Then, more sweetness and notes of vanilla and nuts follow. In the background, you can even taste hints of spice, cinnamon, and maple.

The finish counters the sweetness with some oaky and bitter notes. A strong contrast that unfortunately brings down the overall experience. What stays is the fact that Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is a solid product with some fun flavors.

The Jack Daniel's Lineup

The lineup of Jack Daniel's might not be as expansive as the one from Jim Beam, but they still have a considerable selection. So let's check out what the distillery from Tennessee has to offer.

Jack Daniel's Old No. 7

Jack Daniel's Old No. 7

ABV: 40%
Age: 4 -7 years
Tasting notes: Banana, Apricot, Vanilla, and oak
Price: $15

I already described the flavors and aromas of the standard Jack Daniel's bottling above. And this release is no exception: it's a solid Whiskey with sweet and fruity aromas and flavors. The finish is relatively dry and takes away from the otherwise beautiful flavor profile. 

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye

ABV: 45%
Age: NA
Tasting notes: Vanilla, smoke, and charcoal smoke
Price: $25

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye is just as solid as its standard bottling. But, considering the higher price point, one might expect a bit more from it. The nose is slightly more spicy than that of sour mash Tennessee Whiskey. But it still has fruity notes of banana and some oaky notes. 

The flavors on the palate are similar, with a touch more sweetness to it. Notes of marshmallow mingle with spice notes, banana, oak, and some char. It certainly is a great Rye for Jack Daniel's fans as it holds some of the typical flavors you know from the Old No. 7. 

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select

ABV: 47%
Age: 4-7 years
Tasting notes: Banana, vanilla, oak, and caramel
Price: $50

The Single Barrel Select clearly builds on the base of their iconic No. 7. You get some similar notes in the nose of banana or banana bread, caramel, and toasted oak. 

The palate shows more notes of caramel, together with dried banana and oak. -A restrained but elegant flavor profile with just a trace of ethanol. And although bottled at 94 proof, the spirit actually doesn't feel strong. In a blind tasting, I might have estimated it around 80 proof.

The finish also is pretty straightforward: a hint of spicy pepper complements the more pronounced charred oak and sweet brown sugar notes.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye

ABV: 47%
Age: 4-7 years
Tasting notes: Vanilla, smoke, and charcoal smoke
Price: $50

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye comes at a steep price point. Especially because the spirit has no official age statement and, frankly, the company doesn't have much experience producing quality Rye Whiskey. However, the result is quite promising and certainly an above-average Rye.

The nose has fruity notes of cherry and banana complemented by hints of spice, vanilla, and oak. In the beginning, the palate feels quite one-dimensional. Lots of banana notes mixed with cherry and caramel. Later on, you get more oak and typical Rye spices.

Overall, it's a rather fruit-forward and unusual Rye Whiskey at a relatively high price point. But when looking for something new and extraordinary to try, it isn't the worst option.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel 100 Proof

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel 100 Proof

ABV: 50%
Age: 1 year
Tasting notes: Vanilla, smoke, and charcoal smoke
Price: $50

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel 100 Proof is rich and creamy with a flavor of corn, caramel, and banana. And it was my favorite amongst their Single Barrel offerings until the Barrel Proof (see below) was released. Especially on the palate, it really benefits from the higher ABV. 

The full-bodied Whiskey is dominated by rich vanilla and oak notes and carries a delicate underlying trace of cherry and wood. Only in the back of your throat can you taste some bitter notes that bring the experience down a little. Overall, it's an aromatic spirit with a decent depth of flavor.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel - Barrel Proof

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof

ABV: 64%
Age: NAS
Tasting notes: Banana, cherry, apple, vanilla, and cinnamon
Price: $65

Bottled at full proof directly from the barrel, this Jack Daniel's is a powerhouse when it comes to richness and taste. Already on smelling it, you're confronted with a bold variety of aromas: Sweet caramel, fresh banana, banana bread, cherries, apples, vanilla, cinnamon, and also woody hints from oak.

And the palate delivers what the nose is promising. It is a bold and rich Whiskey. The sweetness of caramel, honey, and banana mixes with vanilla, oak, cinnamon, and nutty notes. And due to a high ABV of 64%, the spirit has quite a bite to it. But not in an unpleasant way.

Probably my favorite Whiskey made by Jack Daniel's. 

Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack

Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack

ABV: 40%
Age: 4-7 years
Tasting notes: Vanilla, smoke, and charcoal smoke
Price: $30

First released in 1988, Gentleman's Jack is much more mellow than the standard release. The reason is that the Whiskey is undergoing the charcoal mellowing process twice before aging. And to make it even smoother, it's mellowed once again before finally getting bottled at 40% ABV. 

Gentleman Jack has a super smooth texture and is really easy to sip. The flavor profile is simple yet well-balanced, with just the right balance between caramel, oak, and vanilla. But the smoothness comes at a price. Also, for seasoned Whiskey and Bourbon drinkers, Gentleman Jack might be a bit boring. If you're new to Bourbon or Whiskey in general, it's an excellent choice to get used to the flavors without being overwhelmed by complex flavors and harsh alcohol notes.

Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select

Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select

ABV: 45%
Age: 4-7 years
Tasting notes: Fruity, caramel, nougat, and oak
Price: $150

The Sinatra Select release is a pricy bottle of Whiskey mostly meant for fans of either Jack Daniel's or Franky. Its nose is strong and fruity with notes of apple, mango, and orange, but there are also some more classic aromas like vanilla, buttercream, and wood.

On the palate, it is a tad bit rough. That isn't bad, but I would have expected a better balance. It holds notes of nut, caramel, vanilla, oak, cinnamon, and orange. The mouthfeel itself is pretty nice and rich. It almost feels like its a 100 proof. 

Overall the Sinatra Select is nothing really new. It has some upsides and downsides without being unique. And to be honest, spending 100$ on this is most likely not worth it. Considering that currently, it sells for as much as $150, I do not recommend buying a bottle unless you're a big fan of either brand or artist.

Other Products

Besides the Whiskey listed above, Jack Daniels also released some flavored, lower ABV liqueurs. To not leave them unmentioned, here are their other products:

  • Jack Daniel's Tennessee honey
  • Jack Daniel's Tennessee Apple
  • Jack Daniel's Tennessee Fire Flavored Whiskey
  • Jack Daniel's Winter Jack

Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniels - What's your preference?

Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's are two of the most famous Whiskey brands worldwide. Jim Beam is a Bourbon, and Jack Daniel's officially is classified as Tennessee Whiskey. Technically, though, both products are Bourbon Whiskeys even though Jack Daniel's undergoes some special treatment. 

Both brands have a raving fanbase, and choosing between Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's is a matter of personal preference. Both standard releases are not exactly what I call a perfect choice for sipping, but great spirits for beginners. But if I had to pick a favorite from all releases, I would opt for Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof. 

Which one is your favorite? One from Jim Beam or one from Jack Daniel's? 

Jim Beam vs. Jack Daniel's FAQs

Is Jack Daniels better than Jim Beam?

It depends on your taste buds. Jack Daniel's is softer and more mellow, whereas Jim Beam is a bit rougher and more fruity.

Is Jim Beam a good Whiskey?

For its comparably low price point, Jim Beam is a great Whiskey. It's one of the most popular Bourbons for a reason. It has a fresh and fruity taste and works great in many Whiskey cocktails.

Is Jack Daniels good for beginners?

Jack Daniel's has a smooth and mellow flavor. Therefore, it is perfect for beginners and people who don't like harsh and alcoholic notes.

Is Jim Beam top shelf?

Jim Beam is not considered a top-shelf Whiskey. But the low price point and its approachable flavor profile make a great Bourbon for beginners.

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