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Jim Beam vs Old Forester: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Jim Beam vs Old Forester in this in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Jim Beam

NoseCaramel, vanilla, hay, corn
PalateToasty oak, peanut, vanilla, black pepper, oak spice
FinishShort-lived, caramel, oak spice
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkCocktails
Similar toWild Turkey 81, Old Crow, Maker’s Mark

The nose is rich in corn 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 nail polish note.

Not to mention the traditional roasted peanut note present of every Jim Beam bourbon.

The finish is short and warm, leaving some sweetness, oak astringency and black pepper behind.

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, sweet at first but mostly warm and peppery. Not good, TBH.

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

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Jim Beam Bourbon:

  • The mash bill is 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley.
  • Jim Beam is aged for 4 years in new charred oak barrels.
  • This is the best-selling bourbon across the globe. It does not sell more than Jack Daniel’s, but the JD is not a bourbon but a Tennessee Whiskey.
  • Jacob Beam, born in Germany, sold his first barrels of corn whiskey around 1795, then called Old Jake Beam Sour Mash.

Old Forester 86

NoseBrown sugar, caramel, ethanol
PalateVanilla, banana, oak, spice
FinishCaramel, oak
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toBuffalo Trace, Jack Daniel’s

The nose delivers a sharp ethanol hit that quickly fades into a sweet scent of brown sugar and caramel.

On the palate, the Old Forester 86 has a decent body showing a medium texture. Flavor is smooth and a bit musty, with hints of vanilla, banana, cinnamon and a whiff of charred oak spice providing a bitter note.

The finish is short, with caramel and oak to it with very little to no warmth.

It drinks nicely neat or rocks and the little higher than average proof (86) makes it a good option for an affordable cocktail.

Old Forester is an easy drinker with nothing remarkable or off-putting, getting the job done providing good value for the money.

Way better than most bourbons offered at this price range making it a great value play.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Old Forester 86:

  • Aged for around 4 years.
  • The mash bill is comprised of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • This was the first bottled bourbon sold in sealed glass bottles instead of from barrels, to ensure consistent quality.
  • Old Forester has been on the market continuously since 1870, which is longer than any other bourbon.
  • Old Forester was launched in 1870 by George Garvin Brown and named for Dr. William Forrester, who prescribed bourbon to his patients.
  • Crafted at the Brown-Forman Distillery in Shively, KY.
  • This brand is owned by Brown-Forman which also holds Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.

Jim Beam vs Old Forester: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskeyPriceBottle Size
Jim Beam$241L
Old Forester$291L

Jim Beam vs Old Forester: Which is better?

Old Forester is a better tasting bourbon than Jim Beam

WhiskeyJim BeamOld Forester
  • The Old Forester is a smooth and sweet easy drinker. Nothing remarkable or outstanding but nothing harsh or off-putting making an easier sip than other bottom-shelf bourbons as they tend to be much rougher.
  • Old Forester won’t be taking home any awards but gets the job done providing good value for the money.
  • Jim Beam is plagued with weird notes and falls flat lacking in body serving primarily as a mixer for low-end cocktails.