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From High Art to Novelties - Jim Beam Whiskey Ceramic Decanters

Jim Beam ceramic decanters novelty high art cars trains figurines

From the 1950s to the early 2010s, Jim Beam created a range of ceramic decanters to hold its bourbon. Most of the designs were released in the '60s, '70s, and '80s to appeal to collectors. It was a clever marketing ploy to sell off their abundant supply of well-aged whiskey, which after the war seemed to be left unsold with the surging popularity of vodka.


It is estimated that Jim Beam used approximately 1,500 unique designs to bottle their whiskies during the golden era of ceramic whiskey decanters—from featuring high art to novelty pieces that would serve as conversation starters. The vessels were filled with Jim Beam bourbons, including Bonded Beam, Beam's Choice 8-year-old and 100 Months Old (8.3 years), and even up to 200 Months Old (16.7 years) for special releases.


Jim Beam's method of selling off their excess stock was incredibly successful. At the height of their popularity, there were reportedly around 200 whiskey decanter collector's clubs in the US alone. For some members, finding a specific bottle could become a lifelong pursuit.


Beam probably had a dedicated team responsible for designing the most innovative ceramic decanters they could think of. Regal China was also instrumental in bringing many of these creations to life. While some of these decanters were undoubtedly creative and visually intriguing, it is clear that not all of the ideas should have been given life.



Due to their perceived collectability, many ceramic decanters are currently sold without their contents. These decanters have become decorative pieces with more emotional value than their monetary worth. Some people even remove the Beam labels from the decanters to make them more suitable for decoration, making it more challenging to determine the bottling's rarity and age. Also, for most of the decanters, which are all limited releases, the amount produced has not been made public.


Ceramic decanter whiskies are often considered the first collectable whiskies produced, so much so that many companies followed suit and released their creations. One of the biggest companies to do so was Japanese Suntory, which acquired Jim Beam in April 2014, thus creating Beam Suntory Inc.


This article features approximately 514 different bottle designs released by James B. Beam. Additionally, some designs were released in multiple colours. We are fully aware that we could only include some of the decanters produced, but we do dare you to find a more extensive list of Beam decanters anywhere online.


We hope you have fun discovering the beauties and beasts of Jim Beam ceramic decanters.

All the images in this article have been combined by The Whisky Ardvark.




 

Beam's Choice Collector's Editions


The Beam's Choice eight-year-old whiskies were bottled under the Collector's Edition series between 1966 and 1983. A total of 18 sets were released, each with its designer decanter shape. Each set, ranging from three to eight 75cl bottlings per release, was bottled at 40% or 45% ABV. Even though the releases are marked from I to XIX, the series did not seem to include a 13th (XIII) release for some reason. Maybe superstition had something to do with it; who knows?


The first eight releases from 1966 to 1973 are sometimes called 'Modern Masters,' including the third release dedicated to famous pieces of Americana. All subsequent releases feature artwork by respected nature and wildlife artist James Leland Lockhart, except the XV release by Frederic Remington, which is also bottled as the only 10-year-old bottling in the series. On the back label, each bottle drawn by Lockhart shows which animals are included within the same set.


Please note that any distortion of bottle shapes per release is due to the availability of pictures and are presented in a random order.


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition I Bottled 1966

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume I - Bottled in 1966 - Six Bottles

  1. 'On the Terrace' by Renoir

  2. 'The Blue Boy' by Thomas Gainsborough

  3. 'Self Portrait' by Vincent Van Gogh

  4. 'Pierrot and Harlequin - Mardi Gras' by Paul Cezanne

  5. 'Laughing Cavalier' by Frans Hals

  6. 'Aristide Bruant' by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition II Bottled in 1967

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume II - Bottled in 1967 - Six Bottles

  1. 'Night Watch' by Rembrandt

  2. 'Nurse and a Child' by Frans Hals

  3. 'Man on a Horse' by De Keyser

  4. 'Georg Gisze' by Holbein

  5. 'Soldier and Girl' by Van Mieris

  6. 'The Jester' by Frans Hals


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition III Bottled in 1968 Americana

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume III Americana - Bottled in 1968 - Eight Bottles

  1. 'American Gothic' by Grant Wood

  2. 'Indian Maiden' by Charles M. Russell

  3. 'The Kentuckian' by Thomas H. Benton

  4. 'Hauling in The Gill Net' by Frederic Remington

  5. 'On the Trail' by Frederic Remington

  6. 'Whistler's Mother' by James McNeill Whistler

  7. 'The Scout' by Frederic Remington

  8. 'Buffalo Hunt' by Thomas H. Benton


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition IV Bottled in 1969

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume IV - Bottled in 1969 - Eight Bottles

  1. 'Sunflowers' by Vincent Van Gogh

  2. 'The Judge' by Édouard Manet

  3. 'The Balcony' by Édouard Manet

  4. 'Fruit Basket' by Paul Cezanne

  5. 'Boy with Cherries' by Édouard Manet

  6. 'Zoave' by Vincent Van Gogh

  7. 'Emile Zola' by Édouard Manet

  8. The Guitarist' by Édouard Manet



Beam's Choice Collector's Edition V Bottled in 1970

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume V - Bottled in 1970 - Six Bottles

  1. 'Old Peasant' by Vincent Van Gogh

  2. 'Gare St Lazare' by Edouard Manet

  3. 'Boating Party' by Edouard Manet

  4. 'Au Café' by Edouard Manet

  5. 'The Jewish Bride' by Rembrandt

  6. 'Titus at His Desk' by Rembrandt


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition VI Bottled in 1971

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume VI - Bottled in 1971 - Three Bottles

  1. 'Boy Holding a Flute' by Frans Hals

  2. 'The Merry Flute Player' by Frans Hals

  3. 'Charles I' by Van Dyck


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition VII Bottled in 1972

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume VII - Bottled in 1972 - Three Bottles

  1. 'The Bag Piper' by Van Dyck

  2. 'Maidservant Pouring Milk' by Vermeer

  3. 'Prince Balthasar Carlos' by Velazquez



Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume VIII - Bottled in 1973

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume VIII - Bottled in 1973 - Three Bottles

  1. 'Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart' by Edward H. Weiss

  2. 'Ludwig van Beethoven' by Edward H. Weiss

  3. 'Chopin' by Edward H. Weiss


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume IX - Bottled in 1974 - Three Bottles

  1. 'Ring-Neck Pheasant' by James Lockhart

  2. 'Cardinal' by James Lockhart

  3. 'Woodcock' by James Lockhart


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume X - Bottled in 1975

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume X - Bottled in 1975 - Three Bottles

  1. 'Largemouth Bass' by James Lockhart

  2. 'Rainbow Trout' by James Lockhart

  3. 'Sailfish' by James Lockhart



Beam's Choice Collector's Edition XI Bottled in 1976

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XI - Bottled in 1976 - Three Bottles

  1. 'Bighorn Sheep' by James Lockhart

  2. 'Pronghorn Antelope' by James Lockhart

  3. 'Chipmunk' by James Lockhart


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition XII Bottled in 1977

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XII - Bottled in 1977 - Four Bottles

  1. 'German Shorthaired Pointer' by James Lockhart

  2. 'Irish Setter' by James Lockhart

  3. 'Springer Spaniel' by James Lockhart

  4. 'Black Labrador Retriever' by James Lockhart


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XIV - Bottled in 1978

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XIV - Bottled in 1978 - Four Bottles

  1. 'Raccoon' by James Lockhart

  2. 'Mule Deer' by James Lockhart

  3. 'Cottontail' by James Lockhart

  4. 'Red Fox' by James Lockhart



Beam's Choice Collector's Edition XV Bottled in 1979

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XV - Bottled in 1979 - Three Bottles

  1. '1890 Lieutenant S.C. Robertson' by Frederic Remington

  2. '1902 The Indian Trapper' by Frederic Remington

  3. '1902 Cowboy' by Frederic Remington 

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XVI - Bottled in 1980 - Three Bottles


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition XVII Bottled in 1981

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XVII - Bottled in 1981 - Three Bottles



Beam's Choice Collector's Edition XVIII Bottled in 1982

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XVIII - Bottled in 1982 - Three Bottles


Beam's Choice Collector's Edition XIX Bottled 1983

Beam's Choice Collector's Edition Volume XIX - Bottled in 1983 - Three Bottles



 

Beam Bicentennial The Saturday Evening Post


Beam released a seven-bottle set in 1976 to celebrate the United States bicentennial. Presented in a 75.7cl ceramic decanter, the release includes six of 320 topical The Saturday Evening Post covers illustrated by Norman Rockwell. The whisky is bottled at 40% at 100 months, aka eight years old.


Beam's Bicentennial 1976 Norman Rockwell decanters The Saturday Evening Post

Beam's Bicentennial 1976 Norman Rockwell decanters

  1. 'Pioneer' The Saturday Evening Post cover from 1927

  2. 'Rockwell Painting Ye Pipe & Bowl' The Saturday Evening Post cover from February 6, 1926

  3. 'Baseball - Bottom of the Sixth' The Saturday Evening Post cover from April 23, 1949

  4. 'Elect Casey' The Saturday Evening Post cover from November 8, 1958

  5. 'Returning Soldier' The Saturday Evening Post cover from May 26, 1945

  6. 'Benjamin Franklin' The Saturday Evening Post cover from May 29, 1926

  7. Limited Edition / 'Crispus Attucks'



 

Beam Executive Decanters


Produced from around 1955 to 1988, the Beam executive decanters are some of the most extravagant bottlings of Beam ever made. With the exclusion of 1955 and 1957 releases, bottled at 100 months old in Royal Di Monte ceramics, the other decanters were some of the oldest versions of Beam to be released - ranging from 100 to 175 months old. Also, the 1956 bottling was released with different age statements. The flashy containers are made from genuine, 100% Regal China and serve as display items in their own right.


Please note that in some years, more than one release of the shape was produced in different colours.


Beam executive decanter series part 1
Beam executive decanter series part 2
Beam executive decanter series part 3
Beam executive decanter series part 5
Beam executive decanter series part 6


 

Other Fancy Beam Ceramics


Please find some of Beam's other decorative bottlings from 1957 to 1986, from Greek-influenced vases to special releases for Zimmerman's Liquor Store in Chicago. Some of the earlier decanters were made using milk glass.


Beam ceramic and milk glass decanters decorative Zimmerman's Liquor Store
Beam ceramic and milk glass decanters decorative Zimmerman's Liquor Store


 

Beam Car Decanters


Bottled at 100 months old in Regal China, the Beam car decanter series combines whiskey, collectability and auto designs—from the 1903 Model A Ford to contemporary cars. The first releases were bottled in the mid-1970s, reaching their peak in the 1980s with multiple releases. Unfortunately, finding out the exact years for the releases is nearly impossible, so we have not specified the year of bottling for many releases.


Some occasional limited releases appeared in the 1990s and early 2000s, mainly for marketing purposes. The later releases are also not as detailed.


Man holding a Beam car decanter

Image by Geelong Advertiser / eBay / Reddit


Even though most of the car decanters had a capacity of 75cl, they were by no means small. Some of the designs raise the question of how to tap into the whiskey itself. Most of the time, the cork was hidden in the back, which could be discovered by lifting a piece of the design. Maybe this is the phrase 'look under your seat' began.


Please note that many designs were released in multiple colours. For this article, we have gathered just a couple of versions of the array of colours.




Beam ceramics car decanter series part 1


Beam ceramics car decanter series part 3

Beam ceramics car decanter series part 4


 

Beam Train Decanters & Other Forms of Transportation


Continuing the transportation theme, these train, locomotive engine and cart Regal China decanters were released in the 70s and 80s. From collectable train sets inspired by American folk hero John Luther 'Casey' Jones, an Illinois Railways train driver killed in a passenger train coalition, to space shuttle ceramic, these decanters are guaranteed conversation starters.


Beam ceramics train sets beam engine decanters

Beam train decanters steam engines and carts
Beam train decanters steam engines and carts, other forms of transportation


 

Beam Telephone Decanters


Bottled from 1975 to 1983, these ceramic decanters served as vessels for Beam's 100-month-old whiskey. We have also included a couple of other technological celebrations, like Thomas Edison's invention of the lightbulb and the broadcaster decanter from 1979.


Beam ceramic phone decanters


 

Beam Bird-Themed Decanters


From the late 1950s to the early 1990s, Beam bottled Beam's Trophy and 100-month-old whiskies in bird-shaped Regal China decanters. Some decanters were bottled specially for non-profit organisations, such as Ducks Unlimited US and Canada, while others were made for specific markets in Australia and New Zealand. Here are some examples.


Beam ceramic decanters bird-themed and ducks unlimited

Beam ceramic decanters bird-themed and ducks unlimited

Beam ceramic decanters bird-themed and ducks unlimited


 

Beam Fish Decanters


Sporadically released over the years, the Beam 100-month-old whiskey fish Regal China decanters depict some of the most popular gaming fishes. Some were bottled for specific states, and some for the National Freshwater Hall of Fame. Here are some examples we were able to find.


Beam ceramic decanters freshwater hall of fame fish decanters


 

Beam's Other Animal Decanters


Please find here other animal-themed Beam decanters bottled between 1958 to 1987.


Beam animal ceramic decanters dogs cats horse king kong
Beam animal ceramic decanters dogs cats horse


Reginald The Fox by Beam

Beam has released a series of Reginald The Fox cartoon character-inspired Regal China decanters and paperweights - which can be hard to tell apart. Nevertheless, here are some examples that were produced mainly for Beam bottle clubs between 1965 and 1991.


Beam ceramic decanters Reginald the Fox and Renee

Beam Republican Elephant and Democrat Donkey Decanters

Released every four years between 1956 and 1988, these Republican elephants and Democrat donkey ceramic Beam decanters were bottled to commemorate the US presidential election.

Beam ceramic decanters Republican elephant and Democrat donkey


 

Beam's Human Figure Decanters


These ceramic decanters, from the Opera Series and patriotic USA decanters to human figures and Jim Beam-branded memorabilia, were produced between 1968 and 2013.


Beam ceramic decanters human figures patriotic opera series
Beam ceramic decanters human figures patriotic opera series
Beam ceramic decanters human figures patriotic opera series


 

Beam's State, Country & Miscellaneous Decanters


Beam bottled so many state bottlings between 1958 and 2010s that to say we found most of them would be a severe understatement, but please see examples of the decanters created during that time in this section.


We have also included some designs released for international markets outside the US and sports decanters—to put it mildly, whatever the team at Beam could think of.


Beam ceramic decanters states countries sports all sorts
Beam ceramic decanters states countries sports all sorts
Beam ceramic decanters states countries sports all sorts
Beam ceramic decanters states countries sports all sorts
Beam ceramic decanters states countries sports all sorts
Beam ceramic decanters states countries sports all sorts

 

Thank you for reading The Whisky Ardvark. Please find some of our other informative articles listed below.



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