I picked up a bottle of Jim Beam Black a few weeks ago myself, and have been mystified by the gold medal.
The Beverage Tasting Institute has a website at http://www.tastings.com
and has published several books, the most useful to whisk(e)y drinkers being their "Buying Guide to Spirits", last published in 1999 so it's a bit out of date.
If you go to the BTI's website and do a search on American Whiskey, these are the top results:
98 • Old Rip Van Winkle 12 Year Old Special Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
98 • Pappy Van Winkle's 15 Year Old Family Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
95 • Old Rip Van Winkle 13 Year Old Family Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
95 • George T. Stagg 15 Yr. Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
94 • Old Rip Van Winkle 15 Year Old Handmade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
94 • A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Pot Stilled Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 • Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 • Jim Beam Black 8 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 • Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
92 • Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
[ and so forth ]
So, while Jim Beam Black did score a 93, it certainly isn't at the top of the list. It must have been the best bottle that somebody brought to this Chicago 2003 event?
Don't get me wrong: the Jim Beam Black is a good bourbon. I had some last night, in fact. It's sweet, with a fine peppery taste, but I would be very surprised to hear it named the best this country offers.