The Hooch Life

Jim Beam’s Posh Family of Whiskeys

Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey
Photo by Nick Stevens

Maybe you’ve met Jim Beam at the bottom of a shot glass in your local dive bar. But have you met Uncle Jim’s posh whiskey relatives? Let us introduce you.

Most everyone of drinking age is familiar with the name Jim Beam. Today, Beam Inc. is responsible for producing a great many serviceable spirits found in wells everywhere. That’s all well and good, but did you know they also make great top-shelf spirits including four small-batch whiskeys, not to mention Maker’s Mark?

Though no longer family-owned, Beam, Inc. is still very much under the influence of the Noe branch of the Beam family and their seven generations of whiskey expertise. The company’s headquarters are now located in Illinois, but both the company and the family are still strongly rooted to their hometown in Kentucky. Literally. Practically every family member not still breathing is buried in Bardstown, KY.

So, in the interest of classing things up a bit, let’s take a look at the more refined side of our sneaky Uncle Jim.

Knob Creek
Aged for 9 years, longer than any other bourbon on this list, Knob Creek is a rich, sweet bourbon of particularly dark color. At 100 proof, Knob sits closer to the more powerful end of the spectrum, but isn’t overwhelming. It’s also a fantastic, albeit underrated cocktail bourbon. The extended aging process of this whiskey makes it ideal for anyone looking for a bit more complexity in a cocktail.

Basil Hayden’s
For whiskey drinkers tired of the Irish stuff, look no further. Eighty proof and smooth as hell, Hayden’s is the mildest of the top-shelf members of the Beam family. If nothing else, it stands out for its outfit, a fancy, belted tunic-like label. And it’s a pious whiskey to boot. Sincerely Catholic. Seriously, the stuff is practically religious.

Oh, and, if whiskey were a professional wrester, his name would be Basil Hayden. Most likely a bad guy.

Baker’s
This stuff is so good; I put it on waffles. No shit. I mix it into the maple syrup. It’s spicy, it’s thick, and it’s strong. At 107 proof, Baker’s masterfully straddles the line between great bourbon and paint-thinner. It drinks well on its own, but is also a great addition to any cocktail bar. In NYC, Employees Only uses it in their Billionaire Cocktail.

And, obviously, a billionaire is better than a millionaire. Just is.

Booker’s
Speaking of paint-thinner, this stuff could probably take the paint off a car. Then again, that’s kinda the point. Intending to make a bourbon for virtually everyone, Booker Noe bottled the company’s first small-batch, uncut bourbon. As the story goes, he meant for people to cut the stuff themselves, however they like it. With ice, with water, however much of either, Booker’s is for those who know exactly what they want. And know how to get it…

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The Hooch Life Guide to American Whiskey