Jim Beam is the best selling bourbon in the world, and it’s not really close. Well, that’s true if we count out Jack Daniel’s since it’s a Tennessee Whiskey. According to VinePair, Jim Beam sold 10.7 million cases in 2021. Evan Williams, the next closest, sold 3 million. It’s clear many people out there appreciate the standard Jim Beam, White Label as it’s often referred to. Well, we’re going to take a look at the next two whiskeys in the lineup in this Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut guide.
Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut is a battle between two Jim Beam Bourbons that spend a little extra time in the barrel. You can check out our Jim Beam vs Jack Daniel’s guide if you’re looking for an in-depth review of Jim Beam’s history. If not, we’re going to jump into the specifics of these whiskeys and find out which is better: Jim Beam Black or Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.
Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut Overview
|Spirit:||Straight Bourbon||Straight Bourbon|
|Distilled By:||James B Beam Distilling Co||James B Beam Distilling Co|
|Age:||NAS (6+ years)||NAS|
|ABV:||43%, 86 proof||45%, 90 proof|
|Mashbill:||75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley||75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley|
As you can see from this chart, Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut are nearly identical. However, there is a significant difference between the two. Let’s discuss.
What is Jim Beam Black?
Jim Beam Black is extra aged, as the bottle says. While it is a NAS (no age statement) bourbon, it’s believed to be made from whiskey in the 6-8 year range. Jim Beam Black used to carry an 8 year age statement and be labeled as double aged, but that was changed in 2015.
Other than that, the other difference between JB Black from White is that it’s 86 proof vs 80 proof.
What is Jim Beam Devil’s Cut?
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut is Jim Beam Black blended with the devil’s cut. Okay, what does that mean?
During the aging process, whiskey evaporates. Every year in the barrel, about 2-5% of the liquid will go up to the heaven’s. In the world of whiskey, this is known as the Angels’ Share.
Where there’s an angels’ share, there is also the Devil’s cut. Wood is porous. So while some whiskey is evaporated, some also soaks into the barrels. This whiskey is the Devil’s cut.
Jim Beam takes extracts the whiskey from the oak barrels and blends it with Jim Beam Black to create Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut is the same mashbill as Jim Beam Black, but it’s 90 proof vs 86 proof and just a couple dollars more expensive.
Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut Taste
Alright, now that we’ve covered the basics of Black Label and Devil’s Cut, it’s time to figure out which is better. Does the Devil’s cut make Jim Beam Black better? Does it make it worse? Can you even tell the difference? Let’s find out.
Jim Beam Black Tasting Notes
Nose: Lots of vanilla and oak. I get a good amount of vanilla bean as well. Butter and a nuttiness as well. Lighter cherry and apple.
Palate: There’s some peanut on the nose, but a lot more on the palate. The fruits, cherry and apple, seem to be darker on the palate. They are more prevalent with Black Label, but not as dark as the Devil’s Cut. A good amount of citrus lays throughout the palate.
Finish: Easy. There’s no heat to speak of, and the finish is mostly just wood with some traces of peanut and cherry. Fairly short, but the wood will stick around a bit.
Taste Summary: Not the most cohesive, round, and full flavors, but we’re talking about a $20 bottle here. The flavors were noticeable for me. When I thought of peanuts, there were a lot of peanuts on the palate. When I thought of citrus, there was a lot of citrus and so forth.
The good takeaways – there’s really nothing off-putting about this whiskey. It’s not super high quality, but it’s not bad either. It’s a very woody bourbon, that’s the one quality that stuck around no matter what, but if you don’t mind that, this should be a very good budget option for most people.
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Tasting Notes
Nose: Wood tannins and shavings, paint, touch of spice and darker fruits than the Black Label. Mostly wood. There’s a little bit of citrus, mint, and greenness that is reminiscent of tequila.
Palate: There’s a little more butter on the palate than the nose, similar to the JB Black nose. A whole lot of wood and some peanuts. The dark fruit is almost all but gone, but some mint, cinnamon and pepper remain. Vanilla and caramel are there, but not nearly as prevalent as you might expect from Beam.
Finish: Easy. There’s no heat. A little more pepper and spice on the finish than Black Label but not as much fruit and peanut. More bitter, likely from the oak tannins.
Taste Summary: There’s a whole lotta wood throughout this bourbon. Similar to Jim Beam Black in this way, but the wood is a little bit lighter. There’s a touch of paint in there and a lot more bitterness. With that said, there’s also a lot more spice.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise as some of the whiskey in this bourbon spent a lot of time within the wood, not just within the barrel.
Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut: Which is Better?
When it comes to Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut, I think there’s a clear winner. Jim Beam Black is better than Devil’s Cut, and I’m assuming most people would agree with me (not everyone).
There’s just more going on with Jim Beam Black. It’s more open, it’s more inviting. While you can get some slight hints of various tastes and flavors in Devil’s Cut, the wood and oak is too dominating. On top of that, the oak is more bitter as well.
Both of these whiskeys, along with Jim Beam original (White Label), made it into our top 5 bourbons for $25 or less article (grouped together, not holding separate spots). Now, Jim Beam, as a whole, might’ve been the worst, or at least my least favorite, whiskey to make the list, but I think it’s one of the best whiskeys you can buy for $20 or less.
I know it’s weird to call the worlds best selling bourbon underrated, but I think it is. Perhaps Jim Beam Devil’s Cut doesn’t deserve to make the list above, but I think the White and Black Labels do. When it comes to $25 bourbon, there are a lot of better options. At $20 or less, you’ll be hard pressed to find a bourbon as sippable as Jim Beam Black.
Now, most people, myself included, are going to use Jim beam in cocktails or mixed drinks; however, the point is that it’s good enough to drink neat or on the rocks.
In regards to Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut, I’m taking Jim Beam Black. The wood flavors aren’t as overpowering, so more fruit, vanilla, peanut, and citrus shows up. On top of that it’s cheaper, even if by only a couple bucks.
Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut FAQ
What is the Difference between Jim Beam Black vs Devil’s Cut?
Jim Beam Black is the extra aged version of their original white label bourbon. It’s aged anywhere from 6-8 years, although it used to hold an 8 year age statement. Jim Beam Devil’s Cut blends the black label with whiskey extracted from the oak of the barrels, known as the Devil’s cut.
What Flavor is Jim Beam Devil’s Cut?
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut isn’t a flavored whiskey. It is a straight bourbon, but uses whiskey extracted from the walls of the oak barrels. So, it has a very oak and wood heavy profile.
Is Jim Beam Black Stronger?
Jim Beam Black is stronger than the original white label 86 proof vs 80 proof (43% vs 40% ABV). However, Jim Beam Devil’s Cut is stronger than both at 90 proof, or 45% ABV.