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Clermont Steep American Single Malt Whiskey Review

Clermont Steep American Single Malt Whiskey

When a new venture awaits and allows showcasing a single grain's full potential, what do you do? If you're James B. Beam Distilling Co., you release Clermont Steep, their first American Single Malt (ASM) expression.

Beam is one of many distilleries jumping on the ASM bandwagon as the category gains popularity. With releases from big names like Jack Daniels and budding crafters like Redwood Empire, whiskey enthusiasts are paying close attention to this rather finicky category. While legal guidelines for the American Single Malt category are still undefined, a proposed definition has been circulating since the establishment of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission in 2016, and efforts continue to be made to have the category formally recognized by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

With such leniency in the category and the subsequent grand exclamations from Beam's 8th generation master distiller Freddie Noe, purposely developing his own guidelines and defining factors, I was left wondering if this exploration into the full potential of American Malted Barley did in fact meet the proposed definition of ASM by the TTB, which is:

  • Made from 100% malted barley

  • Distilled entirely at one distillery

  • Mashed, distilled, and matured in the United States of America

  • Matured in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 liters

  • Distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)

  • Bottled at 80 (U.S.) proof or more (40% alcohol by volume)

In short, yes. Clermont Steep meets the requirements. Beam even offers a higher level of transparency on this offering, which I appreciate from a bigger distillery.

Clearmonet Steep American Single Malt Whiskey Details
Clermont Steep American Single Malt Whiskey

The question now is, will the juice inside garner the same level of appreciation from this whiskey sipper who is slowly dipping her toes into the ASM category? Other reviews have been mixed, so I am quite curious where I'll land!

I'd like to thank my fellow whiskey writer, Amongst The Whiskey, for a sample. His local distributor gifted him his bottle so that it be could reviewed it without strings attached. As such, I sipped one of three tastings with Amongst, and a few of his tasting notes are offered below.


Company on Label: James B. Beam Distilling Co. (Jim Beam Distillery)

Whiskey Type: American Single Malt Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 100% malted barley (20% being a golden pilsner malted barley)

Proof: 94°

Age: 5 years

Further identification: First released in June of 2023, this category-grabbing spirit aims to meet what is currently being proposed, but is still not finalized, for the legal definition of American single malt; it is widely available at an MSRP of $60


Nose: Right away, it's hard to ignore the funky quality wafting out of this glass—Linen sheets, hay, grass, earth. It's weird but noticeably Beamy, perhaps due to the traditional Beam yeast. Pushing past the funk, there's root beer with a touch of vanilla, which suggests an impending rootbeer float. I'm okay with this. The nose is hotter than 94 proof, suggesting youngness. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot going on here. Woah, no, suddenly shampoo! A big poof of cilantro says this will be an interesting ride. The nose has enough intrigue now to inspire a sip. A kiss of cinnamon and parsley gives some odd, savory complexity. The shampoo aroma is now becoming a very plain but strong soap smell. Odd. Odd. Odd. Why is orange dial hand-cleaning soap playing with graham crackers and bananas? There is surprising development with patience but quite a bit of "what the heck is this?" going back and forth between Nick and me. Time for a sip.

Returning to the nose after a sip amplifies the parsley and that odd soapy note. Hints of honey and a deep earthiness swing in near the end of the glass. The empty glass contains wisps of tobacco and basement-stored books.

Palate: Immediately, I am taken by the creamy mouthfeel, which is quickly overrun by the confusion of tastes rushing across my tongue. A microsip first taste is all banana. Licorice, chalk, and lemon pledge cleaner. It's chemically, for sure, like Old English. Nick found the taste dusty, like inhaling the air inside a grandfather clock might taste like, or so he imagined. Jes found something similar in the finish—dried honey shards from a mason jar set in a dusty corner in a damp woodshed. Another sip and swish reveal subtle development in taste, congruent with the nose, but with the same "what the heck is this" confusion. A bigger sip and swish brings out day-old steeped tea and the dust from a chalkboard eraser. The linger is odd and off-putting and doesn't want to release its hold. I've reached for my water more than necessary while eyeing my emergency piece of chocolate.

TL;DR: A young whiskey that doesn't know itself too well yet.


Rating: 2/5

There is definitely far better whiskey than this out there and far better examples of American Single Malt that would encourage many bourbon lovers to turn malt curious. I'm glad to have had a few experiences with ASM before trying this, as this would have likely made my curiosity a bit cold on the category. Perhaps with time and patience, Clermont Steep will develop into a more self-knowing ASM built from a less myopic point of view.

Jes Smyth - Pu
With what started as a genuine curiosity for the “water of life,” fiction writer and published author Jes Smyth has nurtured her enthusiasm for whiskey ever since. From learning the vast history of whiskey making to celebrating the passion of the industry, she tastes each sip with intention and purpose while expressing the intricacies of whiskey in a relatable and heartfelt way. She is thrilled to be a contributing writer for and hopes her words will resonate with those ready to explore the beautiful world of whiskey.



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