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

Last Updated on August 9, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Today, we have the two greatest bourbon families – Jim Beam vs Wild Turkey going head to head. Many of you will say these two bottles are living off of their past achievements and prime but really, which one is better?

In this in-depth comparison, let’s discover the differences between these two and determine which whiskey wins.

Jim Beam & Wild Turkey Bourbon Battle 

Jim Beam & Wild Turkey Bourbon Battle 

Comparing Wild Turkey with Jim Beam is like comparing Coca-Cola and Pepsi. They have something in common, like their category and some similarities in flavor, but they have big differences.

The two whiskeys have rich histories and origins and use different production and maturation processes.

Wild Turkey is aged longer than Jim Beam and has higher alcohol proof than the latter. Moreso, Wild Turkey has higher alcohol proof than Jim Beam. 

Main Differences 

Main Differences 

History & Origin

Wild Turkey began its journey in the 1940s, and its name came after the annual wild turkey hunting trip of a distillery executive and his friends. It was 1942 when Austin Nichols started to bottle the Wild Turkey Kentucky straight bourbon. 

On the other corner comes Jim Beam and its seven generations of master distillers, more than 200 years of experience, and countless challenges. Jim Beam was released in 1795 under the supervision of Master Distiller Jacob Beam. 

Production & Maturation

Production & Maturation

Wild Turkey uses non-GMO grains and water from the Kentucky River. The distillery uses Wild Turkey’s original yeast strain for fermentation, which will undergo double distillation in a continuous still before maturation. 

Jim Beam starts their production process with their secret recipe and water from the Kentucky River. The distillery uses an 89-year-old yeast for the fermentation, which is twice distilled in column stills before maturation. 

Straight bourbon whiskies should be aged for at least two years [1]. However, Wild Turkey aged their bourbons for five, six, eight years, or more because they are not a fan of doing minimum.

On the other hand, Jim Beam is aged four years, obviously shorter than Wild Turkey. 

Mash Bill

Wild Turkey uses 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley and takes pride in using non-GMO grains [2].

On the other hand, Jim Beam uses a mash bill with the same ratio as Wild Turkey: 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. 

However, what makes them different is the proof where the spirits go into the barrel. Wild Turkey goes into the barrel at 114 proof, while Jim Beam goes in the barrel at 125 proof. 

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Both Jim Beam and Wild Turkey do not bear an age statement but based on their official websites, they have different maturation periods. Jim Beam is aged for four years, while Wild Turkey is aged for five years or more. 

In addition, Wild Turkey contains 81 alcohol proof (40.5% ABV) while Jim Beam has 80 alcohol proof (40% ABV). 

Ownership & Distillery

Beam Suntory from Japan owns Jim Beam, and James B. Beam Distilling Co. produces every bottle in Clermont, Kentucky. 

Campari Group from Italy owns Wild Turkey, and Wild Turkey Distilling Co. produces every bottle in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. 

Tasting Notes

Tasting Notes

Jim Beam 

  • Palate: Medium-bodied, mellow, vanilla, caramel, sweet 
  • Nose: Spicy backdrop, oaky vanilla 
  • Color: Medium amber
  • Finish: Short length, thin, sweet, with notes of oak

Wild Turkey

  • Palate: Full-bodied, layered, sweet, fruity
  • Nose: Strong, deep vanilla, cinnamon, black pepper, soft and chewy aroma
  • Color: Pale gold
  • Finish: Medium length, thick, viscous, pleasant warmth with notes of dried fruit, oak, and sweet vanilla

Price Point & Value 

Price Point & Value 

The price difference between Jim Beam and Wild Turkey is not that high. You can score a 750 ml bottle of Wild Turkey for roughly $22, while a bottle of Jim Beam may cost you around $24. 

Wild Turkey is cheaper by $2 on Drizly online, but both whiskeys are good value for money. 

Jim Beam & Wild Turkey Common Prices

Bourbon Size Alcohol Proof Average Price
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750 ml 80 Roughly $24
Wild Turkey Bourbon 750 ml 81 Roughly $22

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

FAQs

Which is a better mixer, Jim Beam or Wild Turkey?

Jim Beam is a better mixer than Wild Turkey. Jim Beam’s flavor profile is not good on its own because it can be harsh and peppery but is surely better for cocktails. 

Is Jim Beam better to drink neat than Wild Turkey?

No, Jim Beam is not better to drink neat than Wild Turkey. Jim Beam is a fantastic entry-level bourbon ideal to drink as a cocktail. If you like to drink bourbon neat, go with Wild Turkey instead. It has a nicer flavor profile- fruitier, versatile, and complex. 

Final Verdict

Both whiskeys have sweet and spicy notes; however, Jim Beam is oakier while Wild Turkey is fruitier, making Jim Beam a better choice.

The flavor profile of Wild Turkey is versatile, thicker, and viscous, so you can consume it neat, on the rocks, or as cocktails.

Meanwhile, Jim Beam can be harsh and peppery, so you might want to consume it as a mixer. 

If you want a Kentucky hug, go with Wild Turkey but if you want a Kentucky pat, go with Jim Beam. Your choice. 

References:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html
  2. https://www.nsf.org/blog/consumer/clearing-confusion-organic-non-gmo-labels

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