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Bulleit Bourbon vs Jim Beam: Which is Better? (2022)

Last Updated on August 26, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Are you looking for a versatile and budget-friendly bourbon whiskey? Some may think Bulleit bourbon and Jim Beam can be good options. But which one is better? 

Here’s the head-to-head battle of Bulleit Bourbon vs Jim Beam with an in-depth comparison of the history, production process, and tasting notes. Read on.

Jim Beam & Bulleit Bourbon Head To Head Battle

Jim Beam & Bulleit Bourbon on deskBulleit and Jim Beam are Kentucky straight bourbons that use rye as their secondary grains. They both came from a family of distillers; however, there are big differences between these two bourbons. 

Bulleit uses higher rye content on its mash bill than Jim Beam, resulting in different tasting notes. Bulleit is aged longer than Jim Beam, affecting each bottle’s price point.  

How Are They Different? 

How Are They Different? 

History

Bulleit was founded in 1897, but the Bulleit bourbon came from an old family recipe over 150 years ago. Thomas Bulleit Jr. was inspired by Augustus Bulleit, his great-great-grandfather who made high-rye whiskey. 

On the other hand, Jim Beam bourbon is made by the Beam family and has been crafted since 1795. Seven generations later, the legacy of Jacob Beam, a corn farmer turned master distiller, continues. 

Distillation & Production Process

Distillation & Production Process

Jim Beam bourbon’s production process starts with cooking the mash bill and sour mash before transferring it to the fermenter and adding the 89-year-old yeast strain.

Once the fermentation is done, it will be distilled in 65-foot column stills twice and then matured in charred oak barrels. 

On the other hand, Bulleit Bourbon’s production begins with cooking their old family recipe and fermenting before it undergoes a double distillation process in copper stills.

The distillation process helps remove the impurities of the spirit before maturation. 

Read: Is Jim Beam Bourbon or Whiskey?

Maturation

Bulleit bourbon and Jim Beam are matured in charred oak barrels. However, Bulleit is aged longer than Jim Beam. 

Bulleit bourbon is aged six years in charred oak barrels, influencing the spirit’s appearance and taste.

On the other hand, Jim Beam is matured for four years in charred oak barrels. 

Mash Bill

Mash Bill

While both bourbons are composed of at least 51% corn per the bourbon requirement [1], Bulleit Bourbon has a higher ratio of rye content than Jim Beam. 

Bulleit bourbon’s mash bill contains 68%, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley, and the secondary grain gives the bourbon a rich, spicy note.

On the other hand, Jim Beam has used the same recipe since 1795, and it is 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. 

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Jim Beam and Bulleit bourbon do not bear age statements, but Jim Beam is presumably aged for four years while Bulleit Bourbon is aged for six years. It is one of the possible reasons why Bulleit is more expensive than Jim Beam. 

Moreso, Bulleit bourbon has higher alcohol proof than Jim Beam. Jim Beam contains 80 alcohol proof (40% ABV) while Bulleit Bourbon contains 90 alcohol proof (45% ABV).

The ten alcohol-proof difference is noticeable, especially when you drink the spirit neat. 

Ownership & Distillery

Ownership & Distillery

Bulleit Bourbon has previously acted as a Non-Distiller Producer because they source whiskey.

However, in 2017, under Diageo’s ownership, the whiskey is now produced in Bulleit Distilling Co. Diageo is a multinational beverage alcohol company based in London, England [2].

Jim Beam is distilled in James B. Beam Distilling Co, and it is under the management of Beam Suntory. Beam Suntory is an American-founded Japanese company that produces alcoholic beverages. 

Tasting Notes 

Tasting Notes 

Jim Beam

Jim Beam Bottles on table

  • Palate: Mellow, hints of caramel, vanilla, thin-bodied, light toasty oak, black pepper
  • Nose: Oaky vanilla, spicy backdrop, and sweet aroma
  • Color: Golden Amber
  • Finish: Short, warm, oaky, and sweet 

Bulleit Bourbon

  • Palate: Bold, spicy, maple, tones of oak, and nutmeg
  • Nose: Gentle spiciness, sweet oak, clove, cinnamon
  • Color: Medium amber
  • Finish: Long, dry, strong, sweet, spicy, with a light toffee 

Price Point & Value 

Price Point & Value 

Bulleit bourbon is more expensive than Jim Beam. You can score a bottle of Jim Beam for around $24, while a bottle of Bulleit bourbon may cost you roughly $33. 

Bulleit bourbon is more expensive because of two possible reasons: (1) maturation and (2) alcohol-proof.

As mentioned above, Bulleit bourbon is aged longer than Jim Beam. Moreso, Bulleit bourbon contains 90 proof, higher by ten than a Jim Beam bourbon. 

Bulleit Bourbon & Jim Beam Common Prices

Bourbon Size Alcohol Proof Average Price
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750 ml 80 Around $22.39
1 L Around $23.49
Bulleit Bourbon 750 ml 90 Around $32.99
1 L Around $42.99

*Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.

FAQs 

Is Bulleit bourbon spicier than Jim Beam?

Yes, Bulleit bourbon is spicier than Jim Beam. Bulleit contains 28% rye on its mash bill, giving rich, spicy notes to the spirit.

On the contrary, Jim Beam only contains 13% rye, giving slight spicy notes to the spirit. 

Which is better for Old Fashioned, Jim Beam or Bulleit bourbon?

Bulleit bourbon is better for Old Fashioned than Jim Beam. The flavor profile of Bulleit bourbon makes Old Fashioned interesting, thanks to its high rye content. It is packed with rich flavors that complement well with bitters and sugar. 

Final Thoughts

Based on our taste test and intensive research, Bulleit bourbon is clearly the winner of the head-to-head battle of Bulleit Bourbon vs Jim Beam.

Bulleit’s moderately high rye presence gives it a superior and balanced taste over Jim Beam. 

Bulleit bourbon is also a stand-alone spirit; you can drink it neat, with a dash of water, or as a cocktail. Moreso, for its price, Bulleit bourbon is good value for money. 

Both are great spirits but if you want something with a rich and bold flavor profile, go with Bulleit bourbon.

However, Jim Beam can be a good choice if you are looking for a cheap mixer since it is not a good idea to drink it neat. 

References:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html 
  2. https://www.forbes.com/companies/diageo/?sh=6d53d2aa1207

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