Our bourbon-tasting group from church spent last Saturday touring the distillery at James B. Beam, which is located in Clermont, KY. This trip had been planned for a while, and we were all understandably excited about the trip, which was to include a follow up lunch at their onsite restaurant The Kitchen Table.
We began in the main visitor’s center, from where we bussed down the hill and toured the still, a rack house, and a bottling center. Along the way, we got to learn about the distillation process, how they source their barrels and their water, and how they store the barrels while aging. We also had the opportunity to bottle – and purchase – our own Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, which we of course did.
After the tour, we gathered in the tasting room upstairs in the visitor’s center, where we sampled original Jim Beam, Basil Hayden, and Knob Creek. The tasting included a fourth whiskey, which I got to choose. I chose Baker’s 7 Year Single Barrel.
The Jim Beam is medium-bodied, not too hot, with hints of vanilla and caramel. Basil Hayden is a high-rye bourbon, using rye as opposed to the wheat used in many other bourbons, and because of this, you would expect it to be a little hotter. It’s not. While it is somewhat spicier than the Beam, it’s very smooth and subtle, with notes of charred oak, vanilla, caramel, and dried fruit.
Knob Creek is aged at least 9 years, and as a result, it has a more robust profile. It is rich with notes of wood, dried fruit, vanilla, and caramel. Of the three standard choices, the Knob Creek was my favorite.
Baker’s is named after Baker Beam, who is the cousin of Booker Noe, the longtime master distiller at Jim Beam. Baker worked at the distillery for 38 years. It is a single barrel whisky, so no two barrels are alike. I liked it so much that I purchased a bottle before leaving.
Lunch at The Kitchen Table consisted of a burger and fries – and more bourbon! The menu has something for everyone, with appetizers ranging from Crispy Brussels to Duck Poppers to Pulled Pork Empanadas. For your main course, they have Pulled Pork Sliders, Fried Catfish, the aforementioned Kitchen Table Burger, as well as Smoked or Fried Chicken and Smoked Brisket.
If you’re in the mood for pizza, you won’t be disappointed. They have four different pizzas, or you can build your own.
We didn’t have dessert, but the Kentucky Bourbon Cake looked to be very good. They also have Vanilla Puddin’ and Bourbon Balls.
We had such a good time, we are already planning a return trip! If you like good bourbon and food, you should plan a visit to Jim Beam.