Yes, it’s here, folks. The ultimate battle of the brands. Both are extremely popular, global icons. Both are seemingly named after the people who first created it.
Both with celebrity endorsements, and relative price tags to one another, but who will reign victorious in this brown liquor battle?
Thanks for asking, but no, we haven’t been sampling them both in large quantities before writing this. We’re just trying to add a little drama to the age-old conundrum of what to have readily available in your liquor cabinet at home.
We’ve all been there in the liquor store or supermarket, browsing the available bottles with a skeptical eye. You can read the price tags as clear as day, but there’s more to it than just which is the least expensive when it comes to whiskey.
You want something that isn’t going to demand a remortgaging of your house but also looks good to offer to guests in the evening. It doesn’t quite say you’re doing well for yourself if you’re offering around a 2-liter bottle of budget spirit from a bulk buy bargain superstore.
And when it’s just you and your close family at home after dark, you can surely drink what you like within reason, but it’s handy to have something you wouldn’t feel embarrassed to offer at a dinner party too.
Jim Beam and Jack Daniels are both extremely well-known brands of whiskey liquors that even the most devout teetotaler would recognize. But which one is better respected by whiskey drinkers?
On the face of it, they’re pretty similar in many ways, so let’s look deeper at both brands, so you don’t need to hesitate the next time you’re looking to buy a reasonably priced, respected brand of whiskey.
How Are Jack Daniels And Jim Beam Similar?
To start with, the packaging seems to be purposely designed to look similar to the other. The bottles are both square-based and similar in height, the labels are essentially monochromatic in the colors they use although one is black with white letters and the other is white with black letters.
The fonts are the second-biggest difference you notice when looking at the bottles side-by-side. Jim Beam has a contemporary sans-serif word font, while Jack Daniel’s is a little more old-world charming, with some subtle flourishes to the logo letters.
They use a particularly cursive font for the word Tennessee, too, which is presumably a deliberate decision made by the design team to draw attention to the sacred history of the state of Tennessee in the creation of American booze.
The colors of the two products are also similar, in that they’re both suitably brown-gold in hue to pass as whiskey. Jim Beam is perhaps a little lighter and more honey-toned than Jack Daniels’ signature dark russet.
The prices are also comparable, as you can see when you compare Jack Daniels and Jim Beam on Amazon.com. They’re definitely in the same price range online, just as they would be in a store, though prices can fluctuate and change, of course.
In terms of what’s in the bottle, they are both whiskey products, made by American companies, and the liquors both contain 40% alcohol.
That’s just about where the similarities end, though, because everything else from the flavor to the method with which it is made is a lot further apart. Maybe, as the label colors suggest, these two whiskey products are actually as opposite as black and white.
Not all whiskeys are made the same way or even use exactly the same ingredients. Let’s take a look at the type of whiskey, Jim Beam and Jack Daniel are and exactly what they’re made of.
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Jack Daniel’s is technically a sour mash, which it does say on the label. The original recipe boasted 80% corn, 12% barley, and 8% rye, and this is the ratio that is still used today.
They claim that the high percentage of corn gives Jack’s the signature sweetness, while the rye gives a little kick of peppery spice. They hail the malt for giving the smooth sipping experience fans of Old No.7 love.
Jack Daniel’s is produced through a method called charcoal mellowing or the Lincoln Country Process. This means that an un-aged whiskey made with limestone-filtered water and a sour mash sample from a previous batch is filtered through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal.
It is then aged for at least four years in new charred oak barrels.
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Bourbon whiskey doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky, but Jim Beam is a traditional Kentucky Bourbon whiskey. Bourbon whiskey recipes have to contain at least 51 percent USA corn.
To earn the label “Straight Bourbon Whiskey” the distillate must be aged in charred new oak barrels for at least two years. While whiskey can be made from wheat, rye, corn, or barley, a Bourbon whiskey (see also: Best Bourbons For Whiskey Sour)must have at least 51% corn to its name.
As for Jim Beam, their Straight Bourbon Whiskey has 75% corn, 13% Rye, and 12% Barley, so make of that what you will.
Here’s what you really want to know, we bet, the flavor. That’s what it’s all about in a beverage, right? Let’s see which product is going to tickle your taste buds.
Jack Daniel’s Old No.7
According to reservebar.com, Jack Daniel’s traditional sour mash has aromas of caramel, with mild hints of banana only the best whiskey connoisseur can detect. It has flavors of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak for a creamy medium-bodied finish.
Jim Beam Original
This Straight Bourbon whiskey has aromas of oak-laced vanilla and has distinct sweet, oak flavors that tantalize the senses. Dizzly.com describes it as a “five-pronged attack of sweetness, grain, oak, char, and fruit.”
While lots of people drink alcohol to relax and an attack on your senses doesn’t sound calming, this flavor combination won’t let you have just one sip but keeps you coming back for more.
Jack Daniel’s Old No.7
Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 was first made by Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniel in 1866. The old story goes that Jack was orphaned or abandoned by his parents and was brought up by a Lynchburg minister and distiller.
When he was old enough and expressed an interest in the whiskey trade, he was taught the art of whiskey making by Nathen Green, who was at the time enslaved and is still thought to be America’s first black master distiller.
Jim Beam Original
Jim Bean is the most historical of the two brands. They boast origins from 1795 as a Kentucky farmer created a new way of making whiskey from his father’s recipe and a bumper crop of corn one year.
This Kentucky Bourbon whiskey was first created by Johannes “Jacob” Beam and was originally known as “Old Tub Bourbon”. We’re genuinely not sure if we prefer the old or new name. We’re hoping it’s not still made in an old tub in these days of food standards and hygiene laws.
And The Title Goes to…
While both brands have loyal followings and gross millions of dollars every year, they excel in different areas of the whiskey trade, and we think that they belong in different settings. Despite their similarities as marketable products, they are not the same at all.
We can only say that you ought to buy or order the one you like the best out of the two, but if you’re still not sure, you might want to see the accolades we award them to help you decide.
Most Well-Known Brand
Jack Daniel’s takes the win for this title. It’s one of the biggest grossing alcohol companies in the world. According to Vine Pair, in 2019 Jack Daniel’s brought in over $326 million while Jim Beam was a close competitor at $228 million in the same year.
Best To Order In A Bar
Jack Daniel’s also wins this one because in a noisy bar you can easily be misheard and find you’ve accidentally ordered something completely different from what you thought you wanted. When the music is loud, there’s no point arguing with the bartender, so what do you do?
You just say to yourself, “today, I try something different” and knock it back. Few things can be confused with the phrase “jack and coke” though. It’s such a well-known phrase, so if you’re out to party, Jack would be our pick.
Best To Have At Home
Jim Beam cinches its first title here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a talking point among guests, and we’ve all experienced times when the conversation couldn’t get any more awkward when you have people in your house that you don’t know well.
That is the time for the phrase “what can I offer you to drink?” to surface and break the ice.
Jack is the most common whiskey in that price range, so they’ll think you’re some kind of whiskey expert that knows something they don’t for reaching for the slightly lesser-known brand.
It’s also slightly cheaper, depending on where you shop, so you won’t feel bad liberally offering it around to company knowing that it’s cheaply replaced. “Would you like another? Be my guest!”
Best To Drink Straight
This is a purely personal preference, but for us, we’d have to say Jim Beam is the favorite with us. Jack Daniel’s does a great job of pairing with mixers or in cocktails, but for a smooth, straight sipping experience we’re going to go for Jim Beam.
We can’t really tell what the flavor is that makes Jim Beam so good on the rocks or straight up, but it’s got that smokey oakiness without the spicy bite that Jack Daniel’s has. At least in our humble opinion.
Best To Use In A Cocktail
Depends on what you’re having – Jack is a staple of American society that can be paired with the equally iconic carbonated drink known casually as Coke, many easy cocktails, and even a trash can punch.
For whiskey sour cocktails and Old Fashioned mixes, Jim Beam tends to be a better low cost choice in our view.
Best To Order On A Date
If you’re on a first or second date and are drinking alcohol at a bar or restaurant, we’d recommend opting for Jim Beam over Jack.
Since Jack Daniel’s is considered one of the most well known alcohol brands in the world, he or she might think that you don’t know anything about alcohol if you just order what everyone drinks.
You’re on a date to showcase who you are and show the best things about you. Choosing Jim Beam over Jack will show that you are original and think for yourself without being guided by what the masses say or think.
Now you’re a cool, rare commodity rather than just another Jack Daniel’s drinker.
In addition to this, Jack Daniel’s has more of a party drink reputation than Jim Beam, so if you want to avoid making your date think you’re after a badly judged evening of alcohol-fueled mistakes, we’d probably pick the Jim Beam.
While whiskey preference is a purely personal choice, we know that how others perceive us does matter to us (however much it shouldn’t). It’s human nature to try and avoid situations in day-to-day life that could cause embarrassment.
As we’ve said, Jack Daniels often has a reputation as a party drink that is drunk with the desired effects of inebriation rather than the enjoyment of taste.
Whether this is an accurate assessment of the Jack Daniel’s drink or not (and we’re NOT saying it is), there are situations in life where you don’t want to risk being associated with those qualities, such as with people you don’t know well or on a first date.
We think that while Jack Daniels makes a well-rounded flavorful sour mash that’s perfect as a causal whiskey, Jim Beam is probably more suitable for situations outside your comfort zone.