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Top 10 Jim Beam Substitutes & Alternatives (2023 Updated)

Jim Beam Substitute

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Jim Beam is an exceptional brand known for its best-selling bourbons worldwide. We won’t be surprised if you can’t find a bottle of Jim Beam in your favorite liquor shop.

As shelves run bare and bottles grow harder to come by, whiskey drinkers are searching for an alternative to Jim Beam that can deliver that classic bourbon taste they love.

We reached out to individuals and experts who share a passion for bourbon and asked for the best recommendations for a Jim Beam substitute.

Top 10 Jim Beam Substitutes To Try

1. Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Bottle

Average Price: Around $39 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45.2%

Nose: Rich oak, vanilla, caramel, toasted nuts

Palate: Creamy, toffee, dark chocolate, dried fruit

Star Rating: ★★★★★

Why We Like It: Woodford Reserve has a deliciously smooth profile and is considered the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.

Woodford Reserve has slight similarities in the tasting notes and finish, making it an excellent substitute for Jim Beam.

Woodford Reserve is a famous bourbon brand from the Brown Forman Corporation, which also produces the famous Jack Daniels and the Old Forester. 

“Jim Beam alternatives: New doors to old traditions” -Liquor Laboratory

The Brown Forman Corporation in Kentucky has been creating smooth whiskey, and its Woodford Reserve is a whiskey produced in a Civil War Era distillery.

2. Heaven Hill

Close Up Shot of Heaven Hill Bottle in Bond Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: Around $60 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Nose: Charred oak, caramel, vanilla, toasted marshmallow

Palate: Bold, butterscotch, toffee, toasted nuts, brown sugar

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Heaven Hill BiB is also a straight bourbon whiskey, which makes a good substitute for a classic Jim Beam bourbon whiskey.

It is a fine whiskey for neat drinking and is perfect for an Old Fashioned cocktail. Heaven Hill tastes similar to Jim Beam and is suitable for cooking and baking. 

You can replace your Jim Beam with this full-bodied Heaven Hill bourbon. Its smooth and sweet notes are a great substitute and could complement any dish that calls for Jim Beam.

3. Angel’s Envy

Bottle of Angel’s Envy

Average Price: Around $54 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43.3%

Nose: Luxurious sweetness, ripe fruits, maple syrup

Palate: Silky, honey, apricot, roasted nuts

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Angel’s Envy is a bourbon whiskey is an award-winning bourbon whiskey and masterpiece with a port wine barrel-infused sweetness.

It is one of those sophisticated bourbons that’s an excellent substitute for Jim Beam. It boasts balanced flavors of vanilla, honey, caramel, and maple syrup, slightly similar to Jim Beam.

This bourbon brand is known for creating distinct flavors from unique whiskey barrels. In 2020, Angel’s Envy launched its first-ever bourbon whiskey, aged in Japanese oak casks. [1

4. Knob Creek

Knob Creek 9 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky Bottle and a Glass

Average Price: Around $38 for 750ml (Drizly)

Nose: Robust oak, vanilla, toffee, toasted nuts

Palate: Full-bodied, caramel, dark chocolate, roasted coffee

Alcohol Content: 50%

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: If you like Jim Beams’ flavor profile, you’ll also love Knob Creeks’ excellent tasting profile. It is finely aged in highly charred oak barrels to provide a smooth yet full-bodied flavor.

“I know bourbon gets better with age because the older I get, the more I like it.”– Booker Noe, Master Distiller of Jim Beam

But there’s a little comparison between the two bourbons—Knob Creek’s whiskey has more smokey sweetness because it’s patiently aged for nine years and has higher alcohol content. 

Beam Suntory Distillery produces Knob Creek from a small batch of Jim Beam barrels.

5. Evan Williams

Evan Williams Black Label Bottle

Average Price: Around $14 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45.3%

Nose: Gentle vanilla, caramel, toasted oak, hints of brown sugar

Palate: Smooth, toffee, honey, toasted grains

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Evan Williams bourbon is among the best substitutes for Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon whiskey.

The bourbon brand made by Heaven Hill Distilleries is a decent, rich, silky whiskey budget option for a comparable bottle version of the Jim Beam black label.

Moreso, Evan Williams bourbon has a rich and easy-on-the-palate profile that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed in traditional cocktails like Kentucky Mule, Kentucky Sunrise, and Whiskey Sour.

We also tried using Evan Williams for steak sauces that call for Jim Beam, and it has slight similarities. Also, like Jim Beam, Evan Williams offers flavored whiskey varieties.

Did you know? Evan Williams built their distillery 1783 on the Ohio River, which became Kentucky’s first distillery.

6. Willett Bourbon

Bottle of Willet Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Average Price: Around $59 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 47%

Nose: Rich oak, caramel, dark fruit, vanilla

Palate: Full-bodied, butterscotch, dried cherry

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: Willett Pot Still Reserve bourbon is among the most highly respected crafted bourbons. It has a unique bottle shape with a wax seal in front.

Willet bourbon has refreshing floral notes with a friendly and smooth profile. It is packed with herbal sweetness and some spiciness, making it one of the ideal substitutes for Jim Beam.

7. Basil Hayden

hand holding a bottle of Basil Hayden

Average Price: Around $45 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Nose: Light honey, dried fruit, peppermint, vanilla

Palate: Delicate, caramel, gentle pepper, toasted nuts

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: Basil Hayden is a straight high-rye bourbon with a refined flavor at a reasonable price. It is uniquely made using single small-batch bourbon whiskeys. 

Although it uses twice as much rye as other bourbons, it is still gentle on the palate with a warm finish.

It’s a highly approachable whiskey, great to substitute for Jim Beam.

8. Maker’s Mark

Bottle of Maker’s Mark Whisky

Average Price: Around $26 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Nose: Soft vanilla, caramel, sweet corn, light spice, and orange zest.

Palate: Smooth, butterscotch, honey, toasted oak, cinnamon, and a hint of nutmeg.

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: Maker’s Mark is never bitter or sharp compared to other alcoholic beverages because there’s no rye used in its mash. 

Its full-flavored bourbon is easy to drink and can be an excellent substitute for your bottle of Jim Beam.

Maker’s Mark offers an easy, sippable bourbon, making it friendly for newbies.

9. Four Roses Bourbon

man holding bottle of Four Roses Yellow Label on top of a barrel

Average Price: Around $24 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Nose: Floral notes, caramel, vanilla, ripe red fruit

Palate: Balanced, honey, dried apricot, toasted oak, gentle spices

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: This bourbon is called Four Roses Yellow Label. It is a straight Kentucky bourbon whiskey that is more affordable than Jim Beam but has an appealing taste.

Its versatile signature bourbon is crafted from different blends of bourbon recipes made perfect for sipping neat and in cocktails.

10. Buffalo Trace

Bottle of Buffalo Trace and a glass

Average Price: Around $34 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, toffee, baking spices

Palate: Complex, brown sugar, citrus peel, cinnamon, dark chocolate

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: You can substitute Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey for Jim Beam. A bottle of Buffalo Trace may be challenging to find (for some), but in case you chance upon a bottle of this spirit, grab one and don’t even think about it. 

Buffalo Trace has a rich profile combination of candied fruit, toffee, and vanilla.

The Buffalo Trace distillery has consistently produced award-winning bourbon whiskey, including one of the most coveted Pappy Van Winkle.

Note: The star rating was determined based on a blind test, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. In our blind tasting, we examined bourbons for appearance, aroma, taste, complexity, finish, balance, and cost, seeking the best Jim Beam substitutes that excel in these aspects.

Alternatives To Try

Bourbon Extract

All bourbon extracts are from bourbon but are alcohol-free. It is also versatile in making drinks or in cooking. 

Bourbon extract is a great alternative when making an alcohol-free mocktail, especially in Kentucky Sunrise or Manhattan. But it’s highly concentrated, so you must only use a few drops.

Unlike bourbon, you can’t rehydrate dried fruits with bourbon extract. However, pure bourbon extract (vanilla) can be used in cakes, cookies, and ice cream. 

Cognac

Cognac is a type of brandy made in France. [2] It’s a French liquor that works well with Jim Beam, but it is also a good alternative for Jim Beam. 

You can use cognac’s deeper flavor in chocolate pastries and unique sauces while incorporating rich ingredients such as brown sugar, soy sauce, cheese, olive oil, and nuts. 

Brandy

Consider brandy [3] as an excellent choice for cooking when substituting a bottle of Jim Beam. It goes well with savory dishes like chicken, fish, beef cheeks, steak sauces, and lobster soups.

Since this distilled alcohol has a sweeter-tasting flavor than Jim Beam, its liqueur is also perfect for dessert recipes such as cakes, chocolate desserts, and pastries like pecan pie. 

Rum

Rum is spicier and sweeter with a prominent molasses flavor than Jim Beam. It is also considered a versatile ingredient in the culinary world.

You’ll love savoring it in cocktail making, but you can also perfect your barbecue ribs when you drench them in a rum marinade.

Rum also goes well in sweet desserts like coffee mousse and rum balls. But we recommend you adjust the sweetener in your recipe for balanced flavors.

FAQs

Is Jim Beam whiskey or brandy?

Jim Beam is not a brandy but a bourbon [4], a type of American whiskey. It is famously known as one of the world’s best-selling brands of Kentucky bourbon whiskey.

What is the best Jim Beam substitute for cooking?

In cooking, we recommend an affordable bottle like Wild Turkey or Four Roses as a substitute for cooking.

Although the brandy flavor might vary by brand, it’s a great liquor for all sweet and savory dishes.

Key Takeaways

Jim Beam is a classic American liquor with a remarkable trademark in offering the best bourbons.

Our comprehensive list above makes substituting Jim Beam possible since most brands share the same notable flavors.

Woodford Reserve is the closest possible Jim Beam alternative that you can enjoy.

In addition, you can substitute your Jim Beam with a Heaven Hill or Knob Creek bottle with a higher alcohol content. But if you want a cheaper version, go for Maker’s Mark or Four Roses.

Moreover, when cooking, you can replace your Jim Beam with the same quantities of cognac, brandy, rum, or alcohol-free bourbon extracts.

Whatever your purpose, whether for drinking or cooking, our top bourbon recommendations above are all excellent Jim Beam substitutes.

References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradjaphe/2020/07/29/angels-envy-releases-first-ever-bourbon-finished-in-japanese-whisky-barrels/ 

  2. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/cognac 

  3. https://www.britannica.com/topic/brandy

  4. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html

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