Jim Beam Beef Jerky is a product of Thanasi Foods, LLC, of Boulder, CO. It's produced under license by Jim Beam Brands Co. The product literature says that this jerky is "soaked in genuine Beam whiskey".
Jim Beam Beef Jerky first hit convenience store shelves in late 2004, following the success of Jim Beam Sunflower Seeds, another product of Thanasi Foods. In 2005, Jim Beam Beef Jerky won an award from CSP Magazine, as the best new product in the meat snack category. CSP Magazine serves the convenience store and gas station industries.
It wasn't until 2006 that Thanasi extended the beef jerky line by adding the Peppered and Barbeque varieties. Thanasi Foods also owns Stubb's Beef Jerky, and Frank's Redhot Beef Jerky.
The jerky itself is manufactured by Monogram Meat Snacks of Chandler, MN. Keep in mind that the Barbecue variety of Jim Beam Beef Jerky that I reviewed last year was manufactured by Jerky Snack Brands of Mankato, MN. More than likely, this change in meat processors will affect the taste and consistency.
Beef, water, brown sugar, contains 2% or less of sugar, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, spices, garlic powder, worcetershire sauce, soy sauce, genuine Jim Beam bourbon, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces starts with a medium level smokiness, with some sucking I'm getting some saltiness, and a faint sweetness. In the chewing, I first taste the natural meat flavors, which contains some more sweetness, and maybe a tad more salt.
For being soaked in Jim Beam whiskey, and branded as Jim Beam jerky, this doesn't taste like whiskey. In analyzing the flavors carefully, and taking my time to dissect the taste components, I can't find anything whiskey-like, or liquor-like at all. It's just plain ol' jerky.
The taste that seems to dominate this jerky is the natural meat flavors. Although, I'm not sure there's anything "natural" in this meat flavor. It has a processed flavor, that seems to resemble something like summer sausage, something I'm finding more of with jerky made by Monogram Meat Snacks. It's still a pleasing flavor, and still something recognizable as a meat flavor.
Inside that meat flavor is a sweetness, and a saltiness. The sweetness is stronger than the saltiness, and the saltiness is light in intensity.
Again, it starts with the surface flavors, which is a clearly identifiable smokiness. There's also a fine layer of oil on the surface in which I can pick up a fatty flavor, and that mixes in with the smokiness. As you start sucking on the pieces, you'll find a light saltiness. As soon as you start chewing, that summer sausage-like meat flavor comes out in a medium-level strength, and that's all you'll taste from there on out.
These appear to be medium to thick slices of whole meat, cut into medium to large sized pieces.
This is more of a dry jerky, but clearly one with some degree of moisture. Actually, I think that moisture is more of an oiliness. They'll bend about 20-30 degrees before they start cracking. Tearing a piece apart with my fingers is moderately easy, and chewing is also moderately easy.
The chewing texture is meaty, and fibrous, much like a steak cooked medium-well. But there's also a definite rubber-like quality in the first several chews that resists chewing. It'll take about 30 seconds of chewing before it feels like meat. Some of these pieces are even borderline gummy, but still far enough away from feeling like a fruit roll-up.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers pick up small amounts of oil from this jerky which causes me to wipe on my jeans. But I don't see any fragments falling off as I tear these pieces apart.
I did find one piece with a significant amount of fat, otherwise the rest seem pretty lean. I found no tendon or gristle. A couple pieces left behind small wads of unchewable sinews or membranous tissue in my mouth.
Thanasi Foods has a suggested retail price of $5.99 for this 3.15oz bag of Jim Beam Beef Jerky. That works out to a price of $1.90 per ounce, putting this into the average price range, at the higher end.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.90 per ounce price, it seems to provide a fair value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability for its meat flavor and smokiness. I think it's priced a little high for what you're getting. If you can buy this below $1.50 per ounce, it's a good value.
I'm giving this an average rating.
I think this original variety of Jim Beam Beef Jerky has improved substantially now that it's manufactured by Monogram Meat Snacks compared to that previously made by Jerky Snack Brands. It has more meat flavor (albeit a summer sausge flavor), and more snackability.
But it's still seems to be an average jerky. The overall taste is pleasing and snackable, but is still clearly in the realm of mass-market jerky. It has that "mass-market" taste, consistency and texture. I think it's actually just above the likes of Jack Link's, Bridgford, et al, for its stronger smokiness and meat flavors.
Even though the meat flavors resemble something like summer sausage, it's still a good flavor. I mean, I love chomping down summer sausage. It's just not necessarily something you expect in a beef jerky. Though, at least this jerky offers some kind of meat flavor.
But I am disappointed that I can't taste anything resembling Jim Beam whiskey.
My beer recommendation for this jerky? A barley wine ale.
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