Booker’s is one of my favorite whiskies from Jim Beam. Better yet, it’s one of my favorite barrel-proof bourbons, period. The fourth batch of Booker’s, “Oven Buster”, is here. Picked from a roundtable of whiskey writers and experts, batch 2015-04 is also the year’s youngest release. This one is aged 6.5 years and arrives at a respectable 127 proof.
The name “Oven Buster” comes with a tale that could be complete marketing jibber-jabber, but we eat it up nonetheless. From the press release:
“I’ve always been fond of cooking with bourbon,” said Annis Wickham Noe, wife of Booker and mother of Fred. “Years ago, as I was preparing a pork roast, I mistakenly reached for a bottle of my husband’s namesake bourbon to pour over the roast. The oven sparked from the bourbon’s high proof and the door flew open — that’s how the Oven Buster nickname was born!”
On the nose, I get sweet corn mash and vanilla extract. There’s also a bit of creamy caramel, nuttiness and a nice wash of oak. Taste-wise, it’s typical Booker’s – big hits of vanilla, corn, oak and caramel. On this release, however, a grainy note is a bit more prominent. This doesn’t really affect the quality of the bourbon. Given it’s high proof, Booker’s has a rich and satisfying texture. The same can be said for the finish. It’s long, warm and reminds me of toffee-covered popcorn, like Cracker Jack.
The corn grain note really shines here, more than the other recent Booker’s releases. It makes this one’s uniqueness stand out a little more. If you’re a fan of Booker’s, nothing here will blow your mind. I don’t think that’s what Jim Beam is setting out to do. “Oven Buster” stays true to the Booker’s flavor profile, with only the slightest variation. This should be available now at a liquor store near you for an SRP of $59.99. Recommended.