Jan 02, 2015

Jim Beam Soft Red Wheat Harvest Bourbon Review

The Soft Red Wheat is one of the first 2...

Jim Beam Harvest Collection Red Wheat Bourbon Review
The Soft Red Wheat is one of the first 2 bourbons in the Jim Beam Harvest Collection. What is the Jim Beam Harvest Bourbon Collection? Well it depends on who you ask. I’ve seen some folks say that these are the result of an experiment for substituting the rye if it became scarce or too expensive to use. Which makes sense until you see that one of the releases will be a high rye version. Though that could just be one of their high rye mash bills, like Old Grand-Dad, aged for 11 years and is a “bonus” to the series.

If you listen to Jim Beam, via the official press release, then the collection is a product of “a group of daring distillers at Jim Beam” who “thought outside the barrel and experimented with a variety of obscure grains and non traditional recipes and ultimately settled on a range of harvest grains… “ which they then “laid them down in rackhouses to rest untouched for years until now. More than a decade later Fred Noe discovered these lost barrels and gave them a taste and while a few batches from the lot did not make the cut he was delighted to find six delicious bourbons ready to be bottled and released.”

Which reads like a dressed up version of the story in the first paragraph, but it has one little bit of phrasing that just pisses me off and that is “discovered these lost barrels”. Let’s get something straight. When a barrel is put in a rackhouse it’s not lost. It’s not the distillers were driving through the forest and these barrels fell off the back of the ruck. Their existence was recorded and cataloged along with every other barrel in the rackhouse. So can all you whiskey companies PLEASE stop calling these projects “lost barrels” (I’m looking at you too ORPHaN), they were never lost. Forgotten? Sure. It’s plausible to forget about an experiment you did 11 years ago, but lost? C’mon, stop treating us like idiots… please. Now on to the review.

Jim Beam Soft Red Wheat Harvest Bourbon Review

ABV: 45%
Age: 11 years
Price: $45
Distiller: Jim Beam
Mashbill: 76% corn, 13% red winter wheat, 10% malt


Wood and grains are very present here with notes of caramel, a dirty sweetness and spice. There is a bit of butterscotch, but it’s muted. The best way I can describe it is like a dirty Maker’s Mark.

Wood again dominates the palate with a dark bitterness and a dark sweetness dueling it out next to some caramel and raw grains. A dash of burnt vanilla adds a little more character to it, but it’s really the oak show here.

Dirty sweetness fades to caramel syrup and oak in a finish that goes on way too long.

Off balance and over oaked with a light watery body that runs really hot.

I love big oaky bourbons, but this isn’t hitting the mark for me. It somehow has pulled off the feat of being oak heavy but light at the same time and it doesn’t come together for me. Really the best way to describe it is a light and dirty Maker’s Mark. Not a fan at all and definitely not worth the money.

SCORE: 78/100

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tagged bourbon, jim beam, review, whiskey