"Jacob’s Well is a thoughtful blend of two ultra-aged expressions: one 16-year-old traditional bourbon and one 15-year-old high-rye bourbon blended to achieve a depth of flavor unlike any other in Beam history."
JIM'S DESERT ISLAND WHISKEYS
Hardin's Creek: Jacob's WellBOTTLE DETAILS
- DISTILLER: Fred B. Noe Distillery
- MASH BILL: Undisclosed
- AGE: 15 years, 4 months
- YEAR: 2022
- PROOF: 108 Proof (54% ABV)
- MSRP: $150
SHARE WITH:Fans of hyper-aged bourbon, because this one packs a wallop in the oak department along with a medley of classic bourbon notes.
WORTH THE PRICE: In a world where "$10 per year" is pretty much the standard for a limited-edition bourbon, this one delivers on flavor and seems appropriately priced.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar. While this is a delicious expression of 15-year-old whiskey, I believe anyone with an aversion to oak-forward bourbons will want to try it before they buy it.
OVERALL: Jacob's Well has generated a swirl on intrigue ever since its TTB label filing went public. So, with all the hype surrounding this release, I was curious to see how it would ultimately taste.
The result? Perhaps unsurprisingly it displays a lot of oak, but otherwise it features a tasty mélange of classic bourbon notes: caramel, Cherry Garcia ice cream, rich leather and vanilla extract lead the pack with subtler rye spices and apricot flavors finding their way as well.
For a point of comparison, I tried this one side by side with Knob Creek 15 year and I found Jacob's Well to be a much richer bourbon. While it has some extra heft thanks to the higher proof point, it also has a more sumptuous depth of flavor. So, while you would save $50 opting for the 15-year Knob Creek, I think Hardin's Creek certainly distinguishes itself on the palate.
Jacob’s Well presents the array of flavors that I very much enjoy, but I do believe it lacks balance. Despite presenting some creamy fruit notes, there isn't much in the way of spice to hide the undeniable oak influence on the palate. Furthermore while it isn't particularly drying, the texture is a bit quotidian making it an almost boilerplate 15-year bourbon expression. (Anyone with an aversion to oak-forward whiskeys may want to steer clear.)
That said, I think anyone who is familiar with hyper-aged bourbon will know what to expect with this release and enjoy it. There are no surprises here, and if you're looking to take a step up from Knob Creek 15 this will fit the bill nicely.
OVERALL: Two bottles way back on my liquor closet shelf are Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon picks purchased about six years ago. Both are 15 years old, and both cost me around $50. Since I was fortunate to get pairs of each, I know the liquid in those remaining bottles is outstanding.
The whiskey used in this release of Jacob’s well was equally aged, but nowhere near as delicious. As Frank said, it’s good overall, round, fruity and proofed properly so as to not overwhelm with heat or oak. There’s nothing to dislike about the product, but the price is a different story. I’m not willing to spend that much for a whiskey that isn’t truly special. I taste nothing unique compared to the great Knob Creek and Booker’s bottles in my closet, which cost half to a third less.
To be clear, this isn’t an indictment of Freddie Noe’s blending skills. He long ago proved his mettle with every Little Book released thus far. This effort just isn’t my favorite.
BRAND TASTING NOTES
Jacob’s Well is a thoughtful blend of two ultra-aged expressions: one 16-year-old traditional bourbon and one 15-year-old high-rye bourbon blended to achieve a depth of flavor unlike any other in Beam history. This edition pays tribute to the first family distiller, Jacob Beam, and the well he built in 1795. What first served as a water source would later represent a legacy built from one generation to the next as the inspiration behind this premiere, limited-edition bourbon. **Freddie Noe distilled it using precious barrels laid down years ago by other hands, which he then intuitively hand-selected, blending together centuries of expertise with a vision for the future. Old whiskeys passing through new hands – on to yours.
NOSE: Sweet vanilla and caramel paired with hints of rich oak.
TASTE: Oak and char married with stone fruits.
FINISH: Smooth with lingering notes of vanilla and brown sweets.
** EDITOR’S NOTE: Beam’s brand notes listed above read, “Freddie Noe distilled it … .” Given Freddie’s age and his years on the job, it’s not possible that he distilled it. He did, however, blend those whiskies. We wanted to ensure our readers understand that the brand, not our reviewer, wrote it that way.
Disclaimer: James B. Beam Distillery provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Frank’s enthusiasm for bourbon began as an embrace of what he hated. He tried a bottle popular among enthusiasts and was so captivated by the disconnect between what whiskey geeks said was “good” and his own tastes that he just had to learn more. That opened the floodgates for a journey of exploration that led him to a deeper appreciation for America’s Native Spirit. While on that journey Frank decided to start chronicling his tasting notes, sharing his passion on social media, and engaging one-on-one with brands to discover as much as possible about his own taste and the industry at large. Now fully immersed in the world of whiskey, he encourages people not to curb their enthusiasm but to bourb’ their enthusiasm.
Steve Coomes is editor of BourbonBanter.com. A Louisville restaurant industry veteran turned award-winning food writer, he has edited and written for dozens of national trade and consumer publications including Pizza Today, Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living over his 31-year journalism career. As a spirits writer, Steve's work can be found in Bourbon Plus, Bourbon Review, Bourbon & Banter, WhiskeyWash.com and other publications. In 2014, he authored the book, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and has authored other titles as a private ghostwriter.
Read Steve's full profile.