Jim Beam--today the largest bourbon producer in the world--was founded by Jacob Beam in the 1790s. He's credited for selling his first barrel of whiskey in 1795 "and the legend was born." It was briefly sold off in 1920 during prohibition but was rebuilt in a mere 120 days following its repeal in 1933. The Beam family has been in continuous position as master distillers for the entire history of the facility; additionally, this prolific family has served as master distillers for most of the bourbon producing distilleries in Kentucky at one time or another--the website contains a "distillers tree" that chronicles the myriad relationships among the bourbon producers of Kentucky. In 2005, they produced their 10 millionth barrel of bourbon. Today, the distillery is one of the landmarks of Kentucky and produces several different hand-crafted bourbons as well as its own flagship labels.
Jim Beam Signature Craft is a line of "craft" bourbons that is meant to take advantage of the best of Beam's large, impressive inventory of whiskey. The barrels are selected at 12 years of age, implying an oak-forward flavor of vanilla and caramel with the wood. The 12yr bourbon is aged at least that long and blended from hand-selected barrels. It is intended to be a permanent addition to the Jim Beam line of whiskey.
Whiskey afficianado Chuck Cowdery mentioned the brand on his blog, saying "Noe and company have done an excellent job choosing and managing the barrels they reserve for the 12-year-old. The whiskey is not a bit over-wooded. It is right where a 12-year-old bourbon should be, wood dominant on just the right side of the tipping point; rich with caramel, vanilla, and oak; but without much soot or smoke. Here the craft is primarily in wood management and barrel selection, both of which are done exceptionally well."
The 2013 Wine Enthusiast review (Kara Newman) noted that "it grows richer and fruitier the longer it's allowed to open in the glass."