Most of you here are probably familiar with Jim Beam, the largest seller of bourbon in the world, and 2nd largest seller of whiskey in the world behind Jack Daniel’s. However, you may not be familiar with it’s history. Before Jim Beam Whiskey was Jim Beam Whiskey, it was Old Tub Bourbon Whiskey.
In 2020, Jim Beam decided to pay homage to their roots and release a limited edition Old Tub Bourbon Bottled in Bond. While it is a “limited release”, Old Tub is widely available at most liquor stores even two years after it hit the shelves. So what is Old Tub Bourbon? How is it different than Jim Beam? And, is it any good? Let’s find out.
Old Tub Bourbon History
The Old Tub Bourbon you and I are drinking today doesn’t have too much of a history. Jim Beam would sell 375ml bottles of Old Tub at their distillery, but that was really it. In 2020, they released Old Tub to the greater public, not just visitors of the distillery. However, the roots go back way further than that.
The Beam family began distilling whiskey in the last 1700’s, but it was in 1820 that David Beam took over and named the distillery and bourbon Old Tub. While the distillery changed it’s name to D. M. Beam & Company in 1854, the whiskey remained Old Tub. This was a significant time because this is when their whiskey became a brand.
Before, people would ask for whiskey based on where it came from. Or, they’d walk into a distillery and fill up their jugs with whiskey. David Beam relocated the distillery steps from the rail roads, and began bottling and labeling his own whiskey. Now, they had a quick way to ship their whiskey, AND a brand that people could recognize and ask for.
Old Tub Bourbon found success for years to come. Up until prohibition, that is. Following prohibition, they no longer owned the rights to the Old Tub name and brand, so T. Jeremiah Beam re-founded the distillery as the Jim B. Beam Distilling Company. The rest is history.
Old Tub Bourbon Overview
- Spirit: Straight Bourbon Bottled in Bond
- Produced By: Beam Suntory
- Distilled By: Jim B. Beam Distilling Co
- Aged: 4 Years
- ABV: 50%, 100 Proof
- Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
Old Tub Bourbon is distilled right next to Jim Beam Bourbon, and it uses the same mash bill as Jim Beam’s standard selection. What’s the big difference then? The biggest thing to note here is that Old Tub is Bottle in Bond. What exactly does this mean, though?
What is Bottled in Bond?
There are a couple of regulations that must be met in order to don the phrase “Bottled in Bond” on your whiskey bottle. They are as follows. The whiskey must be produced at a single distillery, under a single master distiller, and in one distillation season. From there, it must be aged 4 years at a federally inspected warehouse and bottled at exactly 100 proof.
Old Tub Bourbon Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can dive into the important questions. What does Old Tub taste like? Is Old Tub Bourbon good? On to my favorite part – it’s time to pour myself a glass and give it a try.
Nose: My initial observation is that it’s sweet and light. It’s fairly grain forward with a decent bit of vanilla behind it. Some oak, borderline leather and a touch of ethanol.
Palate: It’s fairly grain forward, like the nose, and that means there’s a decent amount of corn sweetness. Vanilla comes in strong as well, and the oak and leather on the nose introduces itself as tobacco on the palate.
Finish: The tobacco on the palate sizzles into a black pepper. Perhaps it’s the black pepper that turns the oak and leather into tobacco in the first place. At least, so it seems.
Is Old Tub Bourbon Good?
I’m very “ehh” on this whiskey. It’s a fairly standard bourbon profile that sits on the sweeter side. As the sweetness fades away, tobacco and black pepper are brought into the picture. I will say, I much prefer this bourbon neat than on the rocks.
Old Tub isn’t the thickest or richest of bourbons, but it gets by. The addition of ice makes the mouthfeel all too thin for my liking. Furthermore, it seems to remove a lot of the vanilla, which brings a thin grainy mouthfeel and black pepper to the forefront. It should also be of note that Old Tub is unfiltered, but we’ll cover more of that next.
Overall, Old Tub Bourbon is a middle of the road bourbon to me when served neat. Not something I want to drink a lot of, but something I will drink, nonetheless.
As we briefly mentioned, Old Tub is not carbon or chill filtered. That’s because it wasn’t carbon or chill-filtered back in the 1800’s. Well, what does that mean for the whiskey? Well. it means it’s as close to drinking whiskey out of the barrel as it gets – without actually drinking from the barrel that is. When whiskey sits in a barrel, chunks of wood will fall off into the whiskey. This is natural. So, they do remove the wood chunks, but this is the only “filtration” step.
Because the whiskey isn’t chill filtered, it can become hazy with the addition of ice or after being placed in the freezer. I didn’t notice any haziness with my glass of Old Tub on ice, though.
Old Tub Bourbon Price
So, Old Tub isn’t my favorite, but it’s not terrible either. Since taste isn’t our only factor in buying whiskey, price is going to play a huge role here. How much does Old Tub Bourbon cost? We take a look at prices from Total Wine across the US to determine an average cost.
Old Tub Bourbon 750ml: $18-21
Old Tub Bourbon is pretty consistently priced right around the $20 mark. This is a great price as there aren’t many bottles of whiskey sold at this price any more. Well at least not many straight bourbons, let alone bottled in bond.
Old Tub Bourbon Value
Now that we’ve discussed a bit about the taste and price, we can ascertain the value of a bottle of Old Tub. Obviously, there is a lot of subjectivity here as you may like Old Tub a lot more than me, or you may operate with a different budget than me. But here are my thoughts.
I likely won’t buy Old Tub Bourbon again. First, there are a lot better whiskeys out there for an extra $10, which I don’t mind paying. Second, even at the $20 mark, I’m more likely to go for something main stream such as Jim Beam, Evan Williams, Jack Daniel’s, and so on.
Again, this isn’t a bad whiskey, it just doesn’t do it for me. It’s only $20, so feel free to give it a try yourself.
Old Tub Bourbon Summary
The largest producer of bourbon in the world, Jim Beam, hasn’t always been known as Jim Beam. Before, it was known as Old Tub Bourbon. Just in the last two years, Jim Beam decided to pay homage to their roots with the release of Old Tub Bourbon Bottled in Bond as a limited release.
While the Old Tub Bourbon we drink today is likely different from that in the 1800’s, they use similar processes in producing it. A couple of those include the sour mash and not filtering the whiskey.
I’m not a huge fan of Old Tub Bourbon on the rocks, but it’s a decent bourbon served neat. Especially considering it’s $20 price tag. I won’t bang the table for this whiskey, and I won’t throw it off my shelf either. Not my choice of whiskey, but it makes for a pretty solid “well” option on your liquor shelf. If you’ve had a different experience with Old Tub Bourbon, let us know in the comments!