A common point of contention for whiskey enthusiasts is the impact of chill filtration. The overly simplified version is this: Subject the whiskey to freezing temperatures, thereby removing cloudiness and residue from the final, bottled spirit. Some claim this process results in a less robust drinking experience, while others believe the impact is negligible. In my experience, non-chill filtered whiskey tends to coat the mouth better, which I generally like, but not to a devout level.
For demonstration purposes, we’re going to take Jim Beam Repeal Batch as today’s example. Though technically a limited release, Repeal Batch can still be found in some stores. The idea is simple: non-chill filtered Jim Beam bourbon bottled at 43% ABV. This puts Repeal Batch 3% higher than White Label, but right in line with expressions such as Black and Double Oak. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the price is the epitome of agreeable at around $15-$18 (I’ve seen it as low as $12), so it’s practically in a no-lose scenario. Oh, and that label is so wonderfully nostalgic. Does the lack of chill filtration and a slight bump in ABV make a strong enough difference? Let’s dive in:
Nose: Caramel corn and vanilla immediately jump out. The backbone of oak, dried cherry, orange peel, and a generous supply of nutmeg comes to the forefront over time. A touch of cinnamon cola in the background.
Palate: Lightly dry and peppery with mild oak char, barrel spice, and baking spices. Wood seems to be front and center, accented by roasted nuts (peanuts) and barely drizzled caramel corn.
Finish: Woodsy. Hints of caramel and brown sugar. Get a touch of orange buried in the corn and nuts.
I’m not one to say that whiskey needs to sit after being opened to fully enjoy, but Repeal Batch benefitted from added shelf time. By the time my bottle was half poured, it seemed to unveil more of the notes I ended up writing for this review. One of the more surprising aspects I found was the lack of Beam nuttiness on the nose prior to sipping (post-sip nosing is a different story). There’s a surprising presence of fruit that I don’t get on Jim Beam White, but do on Black and Double Oak. This has me suspecting that Repeal Batch might have some extra age over White to go along with its edge in ABV.
So am I fan? Quite possibly. This is a killer value since you get some simply enjoyable bourbon for under $20. A bottle of this could be put to good use for a variety of scenarios, be it mindless neat pours, recipes (be it cocktails, mixed drinks, or even cooking), decanter duty, etc. And if we’re comparing it to Jim Beam White, this basically kicks it to the side with minimal effort. Let me be clear, however: Repeal Batch is geared towards the budget, value-minded drinker. As soon as you begin evaluating it as anything other than that, the shortcomings quickly shine through. But that’s okay. Repeal Batch is appropriately priced and still has enough going on to potentially gain some fans in the time it still has on shelves.