Jim Beam White Label

Jim Beam

Next up for our tasting is Jim Beam White Label. Yes that’s right,  Jim Beam. Not much to say about JB that most of you don’t already know. Available everywhere spirits are sold in a screw top very recognizable bottle with the white label. This is the flagship brand of Beam, 80 proof, aged at least 4 years and goes for around $21.

Almost all Bourbon drinkers have had Beam at least once in their life. The bottle says that it is the world’s number one Bourbon. Unless they are referring to total sales, call us skeptical.


Ron:  Very slight aromas of spice, yeast, banana, and some kind of weird cooked veggie smell.

Todd:    I agree with the nose being slight, and with the banana like smell. I got a little bit of a nutty aroma and what I can only describe as white cake.


Ron:   I tasted the yeast and spice that I got on the nose as well a little hint of anise. Not a lot going on.

Todd:   I thought it was a little rough for being only 80 proof. The only thing that I detected on the taste was the same white cake that I got on the nose.


Ron:   Medium finish with some vanilla and a strong medicinal taste.

Todd:   Medium finish with some sweetness and a little spice.


Ron:   Somewhat balanced, but not really the flavors I enjoy. It is what it is, for $20 plus, give me Old Fitz or Special Reserve any day.

Todd:   Balanced? I guess, if you consider no nose, no taste and no finish as balanced. I got sick on JB a long time ago, and swore I would never drink it again. But then I realized if I used that logic, there wouldn’t be much for me to drink.

Nose      3 out of 5

Taste      5.5 out of 10

Finish     2.5 out of 5

Total           11 out of 20 Barrels

We know a lot of people like Jim Beam, it is a huge seller, to those we are sorry for the low score. But we just don’t get why it is so popular. It is not near the cheapest Bourbon, in fact it is almost too expensive to mix with soda, and too bland for a traditional bourbon cocktail. It is nowhere near the best tasting one at that price range. Since it is a low proof Bourbon, you are also paying for more water. Hell, even the bottle is boring.

As for what is better at the same or lower price, read our reviews.    As for JB being the world’s number one Bourbon, they better be talking about total sales.






Today we are talking about Stetson, not the famous hats but John B. Stetson Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Which incidentally is named after the man who is behind the hat. Stetson is available at most stores, comes in a screw top bottle priced around $25.00.

It is bottled at 84 proof with no age statement, but being that the bottle says straight, it is at least 4 years old. Oddly, on their web site they say the mash bill, while at least 50% corn, also has rye, wheat and barley. While all Bourbon has the corn and a little barley, everything we have come across before has either rye or wheat as the secondary grain, not both.


Todd:     Very nice sweet aroma of cocoa, honey, orange and vanilla. With a faint hint of woodiness.

Ron:   I got the sweetness and the honey, along with some pear and oak.


Todd:    Very sweet neat, some spice and citrus comes out with ice. Also got a little mustiness, in a good way.

Ron:     I got the sweetness and oak that I detected on the nose, with some touches of leather and caramel.


Todd:   Nice medium to long finish with a hint of vanilla.

Ron:   Medium-long finish with some flower notes as well as vanilla.


Todd:   This stuff just tastes good. Has a more complex nose than taste but that is a minor complaint.

Ron:    Very well balanced smooth Bourbon. I liked it neat or with just one cube. High ranking in my book, and for the price a stable in my cabinet.

Nose     4.5 out of 5

Taste     8.5 out of 10

Finish    4 out of 5

Total               17 out of 20 barrels

Very good juice, especially for the price. The only thing holding up the score was the finish and a little knock for some lack of complexity on the taste. This, in our opinion, has to be considered one of the best Bourbons on the market for under $30.00. Being so sweet, we would probably not use it for cocktails. Better neat or on the rocks.

Our recommendation to you, go out and buy a bottle. Our recommendation to ourselves, pour another one.



Breckenridge                                                             Seems strange but today it is only Talking Bourbon with Ron and Todd, no guest tasters. We are sipping on Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey, Special Release from Colorado.

We are not sure what the Special Release means since every bottle we have ever seen has that on it.  This is a blend, and while it is made in CO, only part of the blend is distilled there, the rest of the Bourbon comes from Kentucky and Tennessee. They blend it then age it for just 2 to 3 years, then get it to proof by adding snow melt from the Rockies.

Readily available, 96 proof and sells for $40 to $50 for the 750 ML. Comes in a corked medicinal looking bottle.


Ron:   I had to really concentrate to get something on the nose. Just faint aromas of toffee, apples, citrus and spice.

Todd:  My first thought on the aroma was pleasant, not a lot there but smelled nice. Going along with Ron’s point, I had to really think hard to get much more. Eventually getting some leather and spice.


Ron:  As with the nose, everything I tasted took effort and was somewhat faint. I did get a little anise, chocolate, spice and a some clove. A few cubes reduce the taste even more.

Todd:   Just okay neat, I found that adding ice brought out the flavors a little more. Even then I didn’t get a lot, some rye and maybe a little fruit. Not near all the stuff Ron got. I did find it very smooth.

Ron: Remember I said it took some effort to dig out those tastes.


Ron:   A decent medium length finish with nuances of anise, clove and a band aid type flavor.

Todd:   Medium to short finish with a nutty, caramel taste.


Ron:   Not a very complex Bourbon  but a smooth drink with ice. At $40 or over I find it is too expensive for what you get. I do think it is cool that the water source is from Rocky Mountain melted snow.

Todd:   I don’t know, the melted snow thing sounds kinda gimmicky. I have said this before about some other Bourbons, reminds me of Crown Royal, real smooth but not very complex. Strangely, the first time I had this I liked it a lot more. Changing tastes I guess.

Nose    3.5 out of 5

Taste     8 out of 10

Finish    3.5 out of 5

Total         15 out of 20 Barrels

Price was a big factor in judging Breckenridge, and while we scored it low, it would have been lower if not for Ron on the taste. We both came up with quite a few other Bourbons that we would buy at this price or lower. We also couldn’t get over the fact that it was only aged 2 -3 years. That is not even enough to be called Straight Bourbon Whiskey which has to be aged 4 years. Why the steep price? You would think melted snow was free.

Having said all that, we are a little confused, all the research on the Internet talked about the awards it has one, and everybody seemed to like it. We have some friends that are big fans. Maybe our taste buds were off, don’t know. what we decided was that we would come back to this on a later daet and try it again. But as of now, we think there are a lot better Bourbons for that price.


Johnny Drum Private Stock

Johnny Drum                                                                       Up for tasting today is Johnny Drum Private Stock. This comes in a nondescript  screw top bottle with a light yellow/white label and goes for around $28 to $35. This is not to be confused with their black label which is a lower quality and about 10 bucks less.  Or the green which is even lower. We have found it to be available at most stores and is bottled at 101 proof. We could not find an age statement on the bottle but we found a couple of sites online that said it was 15 years old.

You might have noticed that we have a lot of guest tasters. Anybody who is interested in helping us taste and rate Bourbon and lives in the Indpls area is welcome to reach out to us. Having said that today’s guest is Nate. Nate, by his own admission, is more of a beer and wine person who is just getting into Bourbon.


Nate:   I got vanilla and oak up front with some cinnamon and lemon(?) in the back. Also kind of reminded me of a humidor.

Ron: Lemon? That is a first. I did get the oak, along with some honey, citrus and what seemed like sorghum.

Todd:  Sounds like you two are tasting a pastry, lemon and sorghum? I’m not sure I even know what sorghum smells like. Anyway, I also got the honey along with some leather and orange. I detected a cedar smell, almost like an unlit cigar. That would tie into Nate’s humidor reference.


Nate:   A little rough and hot up front when drank neat. A lot better with some ice. Once the ice had melted somewhat, I got a taste that reminded me of cinnamon red hot candy.

Ron:  The ice definitely helps tame the heat even though I thought it subdued some of the flavors. I tasted caramel, anise, citrus and tobacco along with a slight woody flavor.

Todd:   I consider this to be what I call the classic Bourbon taste. That is something that has some heat up front to remind you that it is an adult drink followed by some caramel, vanilla and fruit. I also got a little of the anise that Ron got.


Nate:  Med-long with a touch of clove.

Ron:  More of the anise with a very slight band aid taste at the back of the throat.

Todd:  Talk about crazy, before I heard what Ron said about the finish I wrote down anise and medicine, which is very similar to band aid.


Nate:  Not the smoothest Bourbon, but hey, I can’t complain it was free.

Ron:   Cool guest tasters bring a bottle with them! I have liked this Bourbon for years, but like we said at the top, don’t mistake this for the black label, which I think is Crap!

Todd:  I found JD Private Stock to be pretty complex on all fronts. On a side note, the first time I saw this stuff, 4 years or so ago, I was in a small town in SW Indiana. I remembered that a friend had told me that if I was ever there stop into their liquor store, he said they have a great Bourbon selection. He was right, I saw JD, had never seen it before so I texted Ron a picture. He said he really liked it and I should buy it. I have liked it ever since. It has since become a lot more available.

Nose    4.5 out of 5

Taste     9 out of 10

Finish   4.5 out of 5

Total         18 out of 20 Barrels

Johnny Drum Private Stock is really good! If it is really 15 years old, it is one of the least expensive bottles for that many years in the barrel. Nice complex nose, taste and finish. You can’t go wrong. Really the only thing holding back the score, even though it was high, was free loading Nate complaining that it was too rough and hot.

Talking Bourbon’s recommendation, Buy! It should be a mainstay in your Bourbon cabinet.

P.S. On researching the age we came across 2 black labels. One is 12 years old, we have never had that. The other is 4 to 12 years old, that is the one we were not impressed with. In Ron’s words…..Crap!


Weller’s Special Reserve

We have yet another guest taster. At this rate, anyone who has liked our Facebook page is eventually gone to be a taster. We welcome Kelsey to the tasting porch. Kelsey, by her own admission, likes almost everything alcohol related but is somewhat new to Bourbon.

Well today she gets to sample one of Talkingbourbon’s favorites, Weller’s Special Reserve.  This is again a wheated Bourbon, just like our last post, Larceny. Special Reserve comes in a squat, rounded bottle with a screw top(boo). Is 90 proof, aged around 7 years and goes for under $20.00.  Be warned, SP has become very hard to find, so hard that we call each other when we find it and usually by whatever stock the place has.


Kelsey:  As they said, I’m just getting into Bourbon and have never been part of a tasting where we write things down, but here goes. At first I just got alcohol on the nose, but with a little patience and prodding from Ron and Todd I was able to detect some tobacco, praline, caramel and a little anise.

Todd:  For the record, while we did prod, we never say out loud what we are writing down.  We wait until we are all done with each phase, then we talk about it. Having said that, I didn’t really get anything that Kelsey got. SP has a very good nutty nose of leather, citrus and grain.

Ron:  I got the caramel and praline that Kelsey got, along with some oak and fruit. It has a nice sweet scent as well.

Kelsey:   Thanks Ron.


Kelsey:  I could taste the praline and tobacco that I got on the nose as well as some oak and some spice.

Todd:  Very smooth and sweet. Nice flavors of Butterscotch and citrus. An ice cube really added to the enjoyment.

Ron:   I agree! Smooth and sweet. I tasted caramel, citrus, leather and praline .


Kelsey:  I felt that SP had a nice finish with hints of tobacco, and this sounds weird, medicine.

Todd:  Medium to long finish that brought caramel, vanilla and a little mustiness.

Ron: No medicine taste here, did pick up a little tobacco on a nice smooth finish.


Kelsey:  Yum!!

Todd:   Yeah, really good juice, especially at that price. I like this better than Maker’s, less harsh.

Ron:  If you can find it, buy it! Best daily Bourbon.

Nose    4.5 out of 5

Taste     9 out of 10

Finish    4.5 out of 10

Total          18 out of 20 Barrels

Remember we take price into consideration when rating, and for the price, this is our absolute favorite Bourbon under $20. It is smooth served neat or good with a cube or two. We like this so much that we debated about not reviewing it because it is so hard to find.  We were thinking that such a positive review by us  would make it even harder to find. We then came back to reality and realized that there are not that many people who read this blog.

Anyway, as mentioned above, if you come across some Weller’s Special Reserve, buy it! In fact, if you do find some, let us know on this blog or our FB page. On second thought, let us know by private message, no reason to tell everybody;)


We have another guest taster, Aman. Aman is a big fan of Bourbon, scotch, wine and beer, but then again who isn’t? We are tasting Larceny from Heaven hill. The full name is actually John E Fitzgerald, Larceny, Very Special Small Batch, whew! We will just go with Larceny.

Larceny is a wheated Bourbon, meaning it uses wheat as the secondary grain as opposed to Rye. This usually creates a Bourbon that is a little sweeter than it’s Rye counterpart. Sells between $25 to $32 for a750 ML bottle, pretty available and is 92 proof. Comes in a corked bottle that is pinched in at the middle with a big key hole on the label.


Aman:   My first thought after taking a whiff was rich, and then deep. I know those aren’t really aromas but that was my initial reaction. After that I got a little oak as well as a sweetness.

Todd:   Wow, deep and rich! Gonna make my description boring.  I detected aromas of citrus and a touch of cinnamon along with the usually suspects of vanilla and caramel. Also a little bit of grain.

Ron:  Yeah, glad I wasn’t following Aman. I also got the cinnamon and caramel as well as sweet alcohol aroma.


Aman:  Tasted nothing but heat when drank straight. A little ice/water cooled it down and refined the taste. found just plain sweetness to be the dominant taste. Also a little citrus and an herb I couldn’t identify.

Todd:  I also found it to be a little hot neat, with ice I could taste the cinnamon that I smelled as well as some wood notes. I also found it to have a nice sweetness.

Ron:  Tasted what I can only describe as sugary wood, along with caramel and vanilla.

Todd:  Sugary wood?

Aman:   Haha!


Aman:  I thought it had a nice, fruity, medium finish.

Todd:  Medium finish with a little bit of a mustiness to it.

Ron:   Smooth medium to long finish which really accented the caramel.

Todd: I want to change mine, I agree with Ron on the caramel finish.


Aman:  What else can I say, I liked the stuff.

Todd:  I’m with Aman, but I have a soft spot for wheated Bourbon.

Ron:  Good, but not real complex.

Nose      4.5 out of 5

Taste      7.5 out of 10

Finish       4 out of 5

Total             16 out of 20 Barrels.

Not a huge score but not real low either. Pretty much right in line with the price. The nose raised the score while the lack of complexity on the taste and finish hurt it somewhat. Larceny would probably be a little sweet to use as a mixer, better on the rocks.

At the low end of the price range, Larceny is a really good buy. It has a sweetness and smoothness that also makes it a good Bourbon for newbies to try.