As a result my first taste of booze as a discerning adult was Jim Beam. I stuck to what I liked at first, but when I saw the variety available I jumped in. I quickly discovered Wild Turkey 101 within the first year it was released, and I fell in love. It's been my favorite ever since. I think Booker's is even better, but it's too expensive for me to drink more than maybe once every two years.
But Jim Beam will always have a place in my heart. Imagine my joy when a friend of mine inherited a bunch of booze from the 'Seventies a while back. One of them was the bottle of Jim Beam you see above.
He shared, for which I am eternally grateful. My fellow drunkards know that Jim Beam documents their family on the side of their bottle. Currently Jim Beam has seven faces on their label. The one my friend shared with me?
Five. How cool is that? Also I noticed something I'd never seen as a child because I didn't have enough booze knowledge. The original Jim Beam had a proof of 86. Today it has a proof of 80, which is the industry standard. When the fuck did this happen? I have a history of protesting Jack Daniel's because they quietly lowered their proof from 90 to 80, and when MODERN DRUNKARD called them out on it, they acted in a very snobby way. They were of the opinion that MDM didn't know what the fuck they were talking about because they weren't distillers. Well . . . the writers at MDM were your customers. I was, too. Not anymore.
Jim Beam quietly lowered their proof from 86 to 80. No one ever called them out on it, so they had no opportunity to respond in a snobby fashion. I searched the internet far and wide, but I've never been able to find an explanation. It's almost like it never happened. But I had the, uh, well. Proof. Sorry. I tried to avoid a pun, and there was no pun intended. There wasn't a way around it.
My friend gave me the bottle, and I had about an inch left at the bottom. Vintage Jim Beam. I intended to save it for a special occasion. Earlier this week, however, I decided to down it. I'm going on a road trip tomorrow that could be a great help to my writing career, and I decided to celebrate.
The thing is, no one is likely to drink vintage Jim Beam from here on out. It's all been drunk, right? It was the end of an era. Whenever I do something I know is going to be the passing of a way of life I like to listen to my favorite song in the world. I don't listen to it often because I don't want it to wear out. As your physician I recommend you follow suit.
How was it? It fucking burned so hard I had to flinch. I'm used to high proof booze, but this had nothing to do with potency. They used to make booze with a tougher bite. It reminded me of something else. It tasted a lot like Jim Beam Black. Surprise! JBB is 86 proof. Hm . . . The only difference is that what I drank had a sting that the Black doesn't have. The closest you can get to the classic is JBB, though. I highly recommend it.
Remember when booze had a sticker as a seal instead of a plastic ring?
Oh yeah. Those were the days. It's making a comeback, but no one is confident enough to abandon the plastic ring in such situations.
Goddam. That one inch of vintage Jim Beam was fucking awesome. Sorry folks. I was the last to have it. I'm tempted to mention a story of mine from a while back about a similar thing. Ah hell, the magazine is out of print, so it's not really a plug. It was in THE BRACELET CHARM Winter 2010. "From the Vineyard of Eden." A private investigator is hired by a snob to procure a bottle of wine on auction. This wine was made thousands of years ago from the grapes of the literal Eden. This guy had a hard-on for the oldest alcoholic beverage known to humanity. Spoiler alert: when he finally got it, it tasted like shit, but he'd lied to himself enough so that he believed it was the best ever.
But this Jim Beam I'm talking about? It really was good. It's better than I can explain here. I wish you could all taste it.
But it was only one inch, and unlike my friend, I'm pretty stingy when it comes to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Sorry. But take my word for it, it was fucking awesome.