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Jim Beam vs Maker’s Mark: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Jim Beam vs Maker’s Mark in this in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Jim Beam

jim-beam-white-label-marcas-de-whisky
  • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, hay, corn
  • Palate: Toasty oak, peanut, vanilla, black pepper, oak spice
  • Finish: Short-lived, caramel, oak spice
  • Alcohol content: 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • How to drink: Cocktails
  • Similar to: Jack Daniel’s, Red Label

Taste:

The nose is rich in corn, vanilla and butterscotch with a slight whiff of ethanol coming behind.

On the palate, Jim Beam feels thin with very little body. Flavor has some of the same sweet corn, vanilla and butterscotch hints, along black pepper, followed by a hint of acetone.

You also get the traditional peanut note noticeable on every whiskey crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery.

The finish is short and warm, leaving some sweetness, a bitter note from the oak spice and black pepper behind.

Is it good?

Jim Beam is a serviceable whiskey that comes handy when looking for something cheap to make cocktails  but this is not something to drink either neat or use a sipper.

This bourbon is completely unremarkable, with no body, sweet at first but mostly warm and peppery. Jim Beam is not a good bourbon.

In summary, the Jim Beam Bourbon (Review) is a good mixer, but not good on its own. Just too harsh and peppery to make a decent sipper.

Jim Beam facts:

  • The mash bill is 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley.
  • Jim Beam ages for 4 years in newly charred American white oak barrels. Those barrels add the vanilla notes Jim Beam offers.
  • Jim Beam was founded by Jacob Beam a German immigrant in 1795 and is now property of Suntory Holdings, a Japanese conglomerate with an extensive portfolio in the spirits business.
  • Suntory owns a zillion brands such as Sauza Tequila, Canadian Club Whisky, Laphroaig Whisky, Hibiki among many others.

Maker’s Mark

makers-mark-marcas-de-whisky
  • Nose: Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, almond
  • Palate: Rye spice, caramel, dried fruit, nuts
  • Finish: Long, caramel, spice
  • Alcohol content: 90 proof (45% ABV)
  • How to drink: Rocks, cocktails
  • Similar to: Bulleit, Jack Daniel’s

Taste:

There is acetone on the nose at first, that fades into vanilla and cherry as you let it develop in the glass.

On the palate there is vanilla, caramel, cherry and honey providing a pleasant moutheel.

The finish has a moderate length, is sweet with very little heat and just a tad of pepper.

Adding a drop of water makes it taste like a Tootsie Pop, while tuning down the spicy note making it easier to sip.

Is it good?

Maker’s Mark is a well-rounded enjoyable bourbon without any bold or remarkable flavors.

Nothing stands-out but there are no off-putting notes as it is nicely balanced, yet with enough body.

This is one of the few bourbons along Pappy Van WinkleWeller and Larceny that use wheat in the mash bill and you can tell by the bread-like hints. 

It makes a good entry-level bottle to those new to bourbon or liquors in general or a nice “everyday whisky” for those looking for a non-challenging sipper.

Not the best mixer though, as its profile does not make cocktails interesting. You better use an affordable rye whiskey to make a tasty cocktail.

Maker’s Mark facts:

  • Maker’s Mark is made from 70% corn, 16% red wheat, and 14% malted barley. 
  • While most whiskeys age for a set amount of time, Maker’s is bottled when the tasters call it to be ready; that is between 6 and 7 years.
  • This one of the few whiskey brands in the United States that uses “whisky” instead of “whiskey” in its name due to the founders Scottish heritage.
  • Maker’s bottles stand out from the rest due to the red wax seal that is still made by hand nowadays.
  • Maker’s Mark is owned by Beam Suntory, a Japanese drinks giant who also owns Jim Beam and is headquartered in Osaka, Japan.

Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskeyPrice
Jim Beam$24
Maker’s Mark$30

Jim Beam vs Maker’s Mark: Which is better?

Maker’s Mark is a better tasting bourbon than Jim Beam

WhiskeyJim BeamMaker’s Mark
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • Maker’s Mark is clearly better than Jim Beam. Maker’s is a smooth and mellow pour that can be drunk neat while Jim Beam serves primarily as a mixer due to some of it off-putting tasting notes (nail polish).
  • It drinks nicely neat and gets better adding a drop of water. Not a memorable bourbon by any means but it well get the job done.
  • But do not be quick to dismiss the Jim Beam as its price makes it a better choice to mix with Coke.

Differences between Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark

Both whiskeys are bourbons with different mash bills:

  • Jim Beam’s mash ingredients are: 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley. The moderate volume of rye in the recipe gives a vague spicy note. This is the same recipe since 1795.
  • Maker’s Mark is made from 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley. Wheated bourbons are smoother and taste a bit like bread.
  • Jim Beam is aged for 4 years in new charred oak barrels.
  • While most whiskeys age for a set amount of time Maker’s is bottled when the tasters call it to be ready; that is between 6 and 7 years.

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