Author: Bobby

Hello. My name's Bobby, and I'm no whiskey expert. I'm here to share my thoughts as a novice whiskey enthusiast. So, when I try new whiskies (mostly bourbons), I'll tell you about them here.

Review: Booker’s 30th Anniversary Bourbon

Booker’s bourbon has been going strong for 30 years, and the brand is celebrating with this limited edition release. Since I got into whiskey, I’ve seen (and enjoyed) two other Booker’s special releases – their 10-year-old 25th Anniversary bourbon and 13-year-old rye whiskey. Both were phenomenal releases, so I greatly anticipated this new one.

Louisiana only got a handful of cases, and close to half of those went to on-premise accounts which didn’t leave a lot leftover for retail. I’m glad I found a bottle for just under the suggested retail price of $199. Thank goodness for those strong retail relationships.

The whiskey itself is comprised of about 70% 9-year-old bourbon and about 30% 16-year-old bourbon. Very early in the process, it was reported to be a 16-year-old release. However, Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe decided it was too oak forward and added the younger stock.

As is consistent with the brand, Booker’s 30th Anniversary is bottled uncut and unfiltered at 62.9% ABV, or 125.8 proof. According to the brand, barrels for this batch came from three different floors in warehouse H and E. Percentages break down as follows:

  • Warehouse H, 3rd floor – 12%
  • Warehouse H, 4th floor – 29%
  • Warehouse H, 5th floor – 11%
  • Warehouse E, 5th floor – 48%

The nose is full of rich caramel and vanilla – Booker’s usual profile. However, the caramel is darker and vanilla is more aromatic. The older whiskey shows through as well, providing a prominent toasted oak note, as well as some oak spice. The palate sees sweet oak as a driver, but it’s beautifully integrated with dark brown sugar, molasses, vanilla bean, and a slight earthiness. Leather and oak spice develop in the back palate. By the way, this is perfectly drinkable at this high proof – no water required. The finish is short-to-medium, becoming slightly dry.

My initial casual pour was quite satisfactory. However, going back for a second pour a few days later saw an improvement. The caramel and vanilla sweet notes seemed to be turned up a notch, slightly taming the drier oak notes. There’s more depth and complexity compared to standard Booker’s releases. I really like this bourbon, though I wish the finish were longer. That’s really my only criticism. The short, dry finish keeps this whiskey from hitting the high marks achieved by Booker’s 25th Anniversary and Booker’s Rye. That said, this bourbon is certainly no slouch. It’s a very well-crafted release. The decision by Noe to add the 9-year-old bourbon turned out to be a smart one. Even with the shorter finish, Booker’s 30th Anniversary comes highly recommended. 9/10

Advertisements

Review: Barrell Craft Spirits 13-Year-Old Rum

This 13-year-old rum is among the first wave of Barrell Craft Spirits (BCS) releases alongside an exquisite 15-year-old bourbon and complex 25-year-old American whiskey.  Barrell Craft Spirits is a new upscale line from the folks behind the popular Barrell Bourbon.  If you follow this blog, you already know how big a fan I am.  Don’t believe me – just search my site for Barrell.

Rums from Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana that were at least 13 years old were blended together at cask strength, which in this case is 124.2 proof.  The company’s first rum, released in 2016, was pretty damn tasty.

On the nose, BCS rum features notes of buttery toffee, ripe plantain, and a slight herbal quality.  There’s also a bit of tea and cognac in the background.  The palate offers hints of molasses, oak spice, coconut shavings, and vibrant lime zest.  Those spices ramp up heading into the long finish, which is as warm as a Kentucky hug.  I preferred the rum with a touch of water, which brought about a bit more sweetness.

The barrels that make up this blend were almost released as single barrels.  I’m glad they weren’t.  As good as those barrels may have been, blending them together is probably the better decision.  I base that statement on the quality and drinkability of past spirit releases from Barrell.  I’ve tasted a couple of their single barrel bourbons, and while they were tasty, they didn’t hold a candle to every other Barrell release, which was a blend.  In other words, Barrell’s strength lies in their blending ability.  With that, BCS rum is a delicious, hearty, and complex release.  Captain Morgan this is not.  8.5/10

barrellbourbon.com

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell Craft Spirits 25-Year-Old Whiskey

As part of its one-two-three punch of initial releases, Barrell Craft Spirits (BCS) has unveiled a marvelous 15-year-old bourbon, 13-year-old rum, and this 25-year-old American whiskey.  A quarter of a century is a helluva long time to age whiskey here in the U.S.  It’s quite rare, in fact.  And of those releases that do carry such a high age statement, even fewer are not dominated by oak.

BCS bottles everything at cask strength, non-colored, and non-chill filtered.  The company believes it’s the best way to present a spirit.  I don’t disagree.  This whiskey was distilled and aged in Indiana.  It’s American whiskey and not bourbon, which could mean used casks have been used for maturation or the mash bill wasn’t at least 51% corn.  The truth is we don’t know because BCS didn’t divulge that information.  They did say that after 25 years of aging, the whiskey was finished in Sercial Madeira casks.

First releases mean first impressions, and the bar by which the label will be judged by in the future.  How does BCS 25-year-old whiskey fare in the glass?  Unsurprisingly, quite well.

The nose carries hints of toasted oak, vibrant red fruit, spice, roasted almonds, and dark chocolate.  Some air reveals a bit of dark caramel.  At 111.2 proof, it doesn’t need much water, if any.  A burst of molasses is quickly joined by lime juice, toasted marshmallow, vanilla pod and sweet red fruit.  Baking spices develop, as does leather and oak, which begins drying the back palate.  The long, warming, and slightly dry finish leaves behind candied fruit, dark chocolate, and old oak.

The Madeira cask finish really brightens things up.  The sweet, vibrant fruit plays well with the heavier oak and spice notes.  We could have easily ended up with another oak-dominated, ultra-aged whiskey.  Instead, BCS 25-year-old whiskey presents a profile much more balanced than expected.  Nicely done.  8.5/10

barrellbourbon.com

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.