Jim Beam Launches Its First American Single Malt Whiskey

A groundbreaking new bottle brings Jim Beam into the American single malt category.

Leaning on tried-and-true pedigree and heritage can pay serious dividends in the world of spirits, particularly when that expertise is focused on an entirely new category of American whiskey.

American and North American single malt whiskey is a burgeoning category, and there’s a new (old) player in town. Clermont Steep is the first attempt at an American single malt from the famed James B. Beam Distilling Co. and the results are everything you’d expect from the iconic distiller.

(James B. Beam Distilling Co.)

That is to say, the whiskey focuses solely on American malted barley, but gets a distinctly Beam-focused lift from the use of used Beam family jug yeast, which is found across the distillery’s entire product line.

And its moniker has homegrown roots: It was distilled and aged in Clermont, Kentucky, described by Beam as the heartland of America’s storied whiskey heritage.

(James B. Beam Distilling Co.)

The liquid itself was aged for five years in toasted barrels that also received a char level 1 treatment (typically 15 seconds of charring), following a column still distillation process.

As a category, American single malt whiskey is under review by the Tax and Trade Bureau, with loosely defined guidelines in the current market — Clermont Steep gives Beam a chance to make its mark.

(James B. Beam Distilling Co.)

“I’m always looking toward the future of American Whiskey, and the boundless runway in this category intrigued me,” said Freddie Noe, the 8th-generation master distiller at Fred B. Noe Distillery. “We don’t just want to participate in American Single Malt Whiskey; we want to help define it for the future of the category.”

(James B. Beam Distilling Co.)

Noe described the liquid as “smooth, sweet and incredibly balanced,” and a recent tasting by Maxim shows that the spirit opens up even more when poured over a large ice cube.

Vanilla, caramel and distinctive whole grain notes shine through on the palate in particular.

(James B. Beam Distilling Co.)

Clermont Steep, which clocks in at 47 percent ABV, retails for the competitive SRP of $59.99, and joins other American single malt whiskies from the likes of Westward, Westland and Stranahan’s.

Where American single malt goes from here is an exciting prospect. It’s also clear that American whiskey enthusiasts should set aside room in their bar cart for the latest major single malt offering — with plenty of (responsible) imbibing in the category on the horizon.