Jim Beam Honey vs Jack Daniels Honey

Jim Beam Honey vs Jack Daniels Honey | Which bee honey bourbon’s best?

Since the mid to late ‘teens’, the sub category of flavoured whiskeys has been a growing one. With numerous brands launching their own flavoured iterations of their classic bourbons, it’s been an emerging market, luring drinkers young and old towards the whiskey genre.

Those who’d never dabbled with bourbon may have been persuaded by these often sickeningly sweet editions, offered by titan brands as a means of softening the bourbon bite and refreshing the ‘old man’s drink’ stereotype.

In other words; make it sweet enough to persuade the non-whiskey-drinking persuadables. A gateway tactic employed by two of the market leaders in the bourbon category.

Today, I’ll compare Jim Beam Honey vs Jack Daniel’s Honey to see which bottle is best in terms of flavour, value and overall drinking experience. If you’re weighing up these two options, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive in.

Quick brand overview 

Jim Beam are owned by Japanese multinational beverage company, Beam Suntory. Their spirits are made in Clermont, KY, USA and are sold as Kentucky straight bourbons. As one of the top selling bourbons in the world, they sold over 10.7 million (9 litre) cases in 2020.

Jack Daniel’s are owned by the American wine and spirits corporation, Brown Forman. Their spirits are made in Lynchburg, TY, USA and are sold as Tennessee whiskeys. As the market leader, they sold over 12.3 million cases in 2020. Whilst Jack Daniel’s’ whiskeys qualify as bourbons, the brand emphatically market their spirits as Tennessee whiskey due to the use of the famous Lincoln County process.

What is honey whiskey?

By definition, whiskey or bourbon cannot contain additional flavourings beyond what is imparted from the grains or barrel. Subsequently, honey whiskey is technically a liqueur which is blended with whiskey or bourbon. It is neither a whiskey, nor a bourbon. The American Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) permit these liqueurs to be sold as one of three classifications. ‘Bourbon Liqueur’, ‘Flavoured Whiskey’ or ‘Distilled Spirits Specialty’.

For the benefit of this article, both Jim Beam Honey and Jack Daniels Honey are sold under the Distilled Spirits Specialty classification.

Jim Beam Honey vs Jack Daniels Honey

Bottle of Jim Beam Honey

Jim Beam Honey

Nose: Vanilla, caramel & old fashioned mead

Palate: Acacia honey, vanilla, very light spice & oak

Mouthfeel: Syrupy

Finish: Short & sweet

Age: NAS (4 years minimum)

Barrels: Charred, white oak

Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye & 12% malted barley.

Strength: 35% ABV / 70 proof

Price: £20 / $25

Bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey

Jack Daniels Honey

Nose: Manuka honey, caramel, oak, orange & vanilla

Palate: Honey, toasted oak, apricot & vanilla

Mouthfeel: Thick, rich & creamy

Finish: Mid-length & rounded

Age: NAS (4 years minimum)

Barrels: Charred American oak

Mashbill: 80% corn, 8% rye & 12% malted barley

Strength: 35% ABV / 70 proof

Price: US $32 / UK £26

Bottle of Jim Beam honey on top of whiskey barrel beside honeycomb and drinking glass

A closer look at Jim Beam Honey

Launched in 2011, Jim Beam Honey is made with a real honey liqueur and infused with Jim Beam white label bourbon. Aimed towards a younger market, it has an intense honey sweetness, making it a sugary entry to the bourbon category, especially for those looking to try something different. It can be enjoyed over ice or in cocktails.

Nose: Opening the bottle, Jim Beam Honey has a pleasantly inviting aroma of rich vanilla, creamy caramel and subtle mead. In my glass, the sweetness of the honey is immediately noticeable and it’s gently complemented by the classic bourbon notes of oak, toffee and spice. There’s also a hint of cinnamon which rounds out the fragrance nicely.

As suspected, the nose is predominantly sweet. With some swirling and smelling, it’s got all the hallmarks or a liqueur with a faint bourbon aroma. For what it is, the nose is on par with my expectations.

Palate: Taking a sip of Jim Beam Honey, the first thing I notice is its immediately syrupy character which clings to every corner of my mouth. The sweetness of honey is unmistakable and it’s coupled with creamy caramel and notes of vanilla that linger on my taste buds.

With some ‘chewing’ there’s a very slight spiciness to the flavour profile, which is more pronounced when sipped neat. Savouring it, I’m reminded of the oak barrel-aging that has taken place – adding subtle hints of woodiness and just enough tannins to round out the finish. The overall taste experience is full-bodied yet light on the tongue and expectedly smooth from start to finish.

For whiskey newbies, Jim Beam Honey is clearly a very gentle introduction. It reminds me of some whisky flavoured toffee I bought with my schoolboy pocket money, akin to my first taste of Glayva. For sure, this is a liqueur flavoured with bourbon. It’s basic, childishly sweet and does what it says on the label.

Mouthfeel: Straight up, Jim Beam Honey is syrupy. From the start, it coats my entire mouth with a velvety film. Thankfully, there’s a mild degree warmth on my tongue which permeates the caramel sweetness, which speaks of the whiskey’s barrel aging process. All in all, the mouthfeel of Jim Beam Honey is smooth and thick full-bodied, leaving behind an enjoyable but slightly cloying sweetness.

Finish: The finish is predictably sweet and short. After a sip, the peak notes of caramel are the predominant flavour, which quickly subside to oak and vanilla. The tannic flavours are just enough to give it a very slight depth, but it’s weak at best. For me, the finish is smooth, short and sweet.

Price: At $25 USD (£20 GBP) this is a wallet-friendly bottle which you could keep for the odd occasion where you fancy something sweet or for mixing cocktails. Bafflingly, its around the same price point of Jim Beam’s White Label, which for any bourbon drinker would be a far more logical use of the money.

Seeing as I’m not an 18 year old anymore, I’m trying (hard) to keep perspective on this honey flavoured edition. Sure, it’s completley palatable and does it’s job well. It’s sweet, simple, accommodating and light hearted. Just make sure to brush your teeth properly at the end of night.

Two crème brûlée desserts in white bowls beside spoons on white table

Jim Beam Honey food pairings

Due to the sweet nature of this liqueur, Jim Beam Honey is the perfect accompaniment to a diverse range of desserts. It pairs wonderfully with spice cakes, apple pies and other tarts that feature sweet fruity flavours. The caramel undertones and subtle hint of vanilla in the whiskey liqueur pair well with the caramelised edges of a crème brûlée or the warm spices of a gingerbread cake.

The smoothness of Jim Beam Honey also makes it ideal for dairy-based sweets such as ice creams and mousses. For a decadent treat, try pairing it with a creamy white chocolate mousse or a rich vanilla ice cream. The sweetness of this whisky liqueur will perfectly compliment the flavours and textures for a truly indulgent experience.

Two Jim Beam mint julep cocktails beside each other

Jim Beam Honey cocktail suggestion

Embrace the sweetness of Jim Beam Honey with this refreshing mint julep cocktail. It’s got the sweetness of a mojito but with the bourbon tang. Grab yourself some ice and some fresh mint and give this one a go. Remember to chill your glassware first!

Ingredients

  • 50 ml Jim Beam Honey
  • 25ml Simple syrup
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Ice

Method

To make a mint julep, start by placing mint leaves and simple syrup in an old fashioned glass. Then, use a muddler to mash the mint and syrup together. Fill the glass with crushed ice and measure-in your bourbon. Stir until ice cold. Garnish with a fresh mint spring and serve.


Jack Daniels Honey bottle beside drinking glass

A closer look at Jack Daniel’s Honey 

In the same year as Jim Beam, Jack Daniels also launched their honey edition in 2011. Made from their own proprietary liqueur (using real honey) it’s blended with their world-famous Tennessee whiskey. Like their competitor Jim Beam this bottle is aimed towards a younger market with a more approachable flavour profile than their Old No.7. Since it’s debut, it quickly became the flavoured whiskey category leader.

As part of their core-range, Jack Daniels Honey is part of a trio of flavoured whiskeys accompanied by their Tennessee Fire and Tennessee Apple editions.

Nose: In my glass, Jack Daniels Honey has an enticingly sweet smell. Straight out the gate, this liqueur hits you with strong notes of caramel and charred oak. Sor far, it’s less sickly than the Jim Beam, with subtler notes beginning to emerge in the scent.

With some swirling, the sweetness develops, revealing a delicate hint of orange blossom and manuka honey. Breathing these florals in, more of the typical Jack Daniel’s flavour comes through. I can sense vanilla and oak which brings a welcome depth to this otherwise sweet aroma.

Palate: Taking my first sip of Jack Daniels Honey, I’m immediately impressed with its creamy mouthfeel. Its thick and luxurious texture instantly coats my palate, taking me on a journey through honey, toasted oak, apricot and vanilla. It’s sweet-yet-complex profile is balanced by the subtle smoky notes from the charred oak barrels it was aged in.

Needless to say, the JD honey is perfectly easy to drink neat. On a warmer day, I’d be tempted to throw in some ice, but this sweet bourbon is as smooth as you like. I’d go as far to say it’s even gentler than the Jim beam, but that’s maybe a little obvious due to the lower rye content and the charcoal mellowing.

Compared to the Jim Beam, this liqueur is less cloying, with more oak tannins coming through. The fruitiness is more abundant which adds some variation to the overall sweetness. Compared to actual bourbons, t’s still pretty basic, but there’s more going on here.

Mouthfeel: The texture of Jack Daniel’s Honey is rich and creamy. Upon taking my first sip, I was enveloped in its smooth texture, which felt like velvet on my tongue. Its thickness was noticeable, yet it wasn’t heavy, instead coating the palate with a luxuriousness that made it easy to savour.

Finish: The finish of Jack Daniel’s Honey is longer than the Jim Beam. For me, it’s also more rounded. Past the caramel sweetness, I’m left with lingering flavours of oak, honey and apricot, as well as a subtle smokiness that slowly fades away. The combination of the sweet notes and a heart warming warmth from the alcohol create an enjoyable aftertaste that I can savour for some time. Its full-bodied character ensures an enjoyable sip from start to finish.

Price: Jack Daniel’s Honey is a hard one to beat. As the category leader, the price of US $32 USD (£26 GBP) is fairly accessible – but the quality you get is evident. For starters, each bottle contains a minimum of 4 years of aging in charred American oak barrels, allowing all the subtle nuances from the honey and caramel flavours to shine through.

If you’re looking for syrupy alternative to your usual whiskey line up, this would be a guilt free purchase. As you’ll have seen, JD Honey is available in pretty much any supermarket or off-licence and won’t break the bank. For me, I’d describe it as the bourbon equivalent of candy aimed towards those with a very sweet, untrained tooth. Definitely one for having with pudding or for indoctrinating a curious family member who fancies their hand at bourbon.

Stack of banana pancakes on square white plate

Jack Daniel’s Honey food pairings

Jack Daniel’s Honey is a delicious whiskey liqueur with plenty of sweet and smoky notes perfect for enjoying after dinner. A great way to highlight its flavour is pairing it with a decadent dessert.

A classic combination is the classic bread and butter pudding, which can be easily made with croissants or brioche bread and flavoured with Jack Daniels Honey. The richness of the whisky will pair nicely with the creamy texture of the pudding while adding an extra layer of sweetness.

Another fantastic option is banana fritters, deep fried bananas served in a sweet honey glaze and topped off with some fresh cream. The contrasting temperatures of the hot fritters and creamy ice cream, paired with the smokiness from Jack Daniel’s Honey will make for a truly unforgettable treat.

For something a little more unusual, try making some crème brulée flavoured with Jack Daniel’s Honey. The caramelised sugar will add an extra touch of sweetness while also bringing out more oak notes from the whisky. Alternatively, you could top your crème brulée off with some sliced roasted pecans for added crunchy texture.

Finally, if you’re looking for something simple yet effective then why not try some poached pears in Jack Daniels Honey? All you have to do is poach pears in water, honey and Jack Daniels Honey before serving them up chilled or warm on a plate or bowl. You can garnish them with walnuts or chopped almonds to enhance their flavour even further.

Orange coloured cocktail garnished with mint on wooden table

Jack Daniel’s Honey cocktail suggestion

For a light summer beverage, why not embrace the caramel sweetness of this Jack Daniel’s smash? On a warm night, grab yourself some fresh mint, some ice and give this refreshingly simple, bourbon sweet cocktail a try.

Ingredients

  • 50 ml Jack Daniel’s Honey
  • 12.5 ml Simple syrup
  • 12.5 ml Lemon juice
  • Mint leaves
  • Crushed ice

Method

Add cubed ice to the cocktail shaker until it is half full. Add all of the ingredients and shake vigorously for around 15-20 seconds. Next, take a highball glass and fill it two-thirds of the way with crushed ice. Finally, strain the liquid from the shaker into the glass and add a mint sprig to garnish.

Close view of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey bottle label

Final thoughts

Jim Beam Honey is a very gentle entry for drinkers who’re interested in getting to know bourbon. With its honey sweet profile, it’s a sugary gateway bottle for those with a younger palate who aren’t quite ready for the ‘hard stuff’. This bottle has a very simple profile and delivers mild depth of vanilla and oak. It’s an accurate example of flavoured bourbon that’s a little on the cloying side.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is equally sweet, but with more citrussy, floral flavours which break up the otherwise mono-caramel flavour. With some welcome oaky notes, this liqueur is more akin to a bourbon than a liqueur and is easily drank on it’s own. This bottle has a mildly varied profile which warrants the price parity to it’s Old No.7 sibling.

Author’s recommendation

Of these two flavoured editions, I’d recommend the Jack Daniel’s Honey for it’s less sickly flavour. This is still a very sweet liqueur, but it brings more oak, vanilla and fruit than the Jim Beam equivalent. With more floral notes and a longer finish, I vote it the better bottle.

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