Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2016-06 “Noe Hard Times” Review

My first whiskey review of 2017 is of one of the most controversial newsmakers of the past year – Booker’s bourbon.  Batch 2016-06 is the last batch of 2016, and the last to carry the old SRP of $59.99.  Beam Suntory has decided to raise the price of Booker’s to $99.99, only to come back with the decision to gradually raise the price.  We’ll first see a small increase to $69.99 in the beginning of 2017 with the next batch, followed by an eventual increase to $74.99 by the end of the year.  I think it’s a move they should have made from the start, as I agree with the company in that Booker’s has been undervalued. A few years ago $50-$60 was just the right price for this whiskey, one I’ve called the best regular production bourbon in the Jim Beam staple.  However, in today’s current bourbon market, where $100 seems to be the new $50, I’m not so upset seeing Booker’s eventually make it to the $100 price range.  There’s currently nothing in the Beam lineup in that price range, and it’d be an idiotic move to not bump up the price.  Yes, they shouldn’t have announced the immediate jump, but they’ve since rethought things (or looked through their anger-filled Twitter feed) and decided upon the incremental price rise.  There will be many of you who disagree, and that’s perfectly fine.  I’ve shared my thoughts and have nothing more to say on the matter.  Now, to the more urgent matter at hand, and the reason you’re here – onwards to the review!

“Noe Hard Times” remembers Booker Noe’s nickname during his football-playing youth.  Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe said this about this current release:

Dad was larger-than-life in personality and stature, and possessed both from an early age. Needless to say, no team in central Kentucky wanted to line up against such a formidable opponent. This, combined with a birthday in December 1929, just on the cusp of the Great Depression, earned him the nickname “Hard Times” on and off the field.

Batch 2016-06 comes from six different rack houses and six different production dates.  It’s bottled uncut and unfiltered at 127.8 proof and is aged a minimum of 6 years, 10 months, and 1 day.

The nose is full of big vanilla and baked corn notes, as well as hints of wood smoke, burnt sugar, black cherries and roasted peanuts.  Booker’s slightly oily and somewhat creamy entry features vanilla bean, cherry cola, barrel char and sweet corn.  A touch of herbs fill the back palate.  Cinnamon sticks and caramel chews linger on the long, warm finish.

As expected, we have another great batch of Booker’s bourbon.  Sure, the pricing controversy has overshadowed this batch, but rest assured – this is the Booker’s bourbon we all know and love.  8.5/10

Thanks to Booker’s Bourbon for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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