Review: Little Book Chapter 4

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock these past few years, you should know that Little Book is Beam’s experimental line. Eighth generation Beam Distiller Freddie Noe gets to explore the deep reserve of Jim Beam whiskey to create a new blend every year.

This fourth iteration, or chapter, is called Lessons Honored. The name and blend are an ode to what Freddie’s learned from his family. Distilling royalty, indeed. Chapter 4 comes in at 122.8 proof. It’s a blend of three Kentucky straight bourbons: a 4-year-old brown rice bourbon, 8-year-old “high rye” bourbon, and 7-year-old bourbon. I remember Beam released a rice bourbon a few years ago, but I didn’t get a chance to taste it.

There’s lots of vanilla and caramelized fruit on the nose. Those notes sit right alongside a herbal and woody undertones. Tart cherries and dark chocolate kick off the palate, balanced by orange zest, vanilla, and barrel char bitterness. A little spice leads us to a long, warming finish.

This is nice. The blend provides a fruity and caramel character with some added oak (not the drying, astringent oak qualities of older whiskies). It’s full-bodied and bold, but easy to sip at bottling proof. It’s quite a departure from the sometimes peanut-heavy Beam flavor profile. Little Book Chapter 4 should please those looking for a bold whiskey experience. Recommended!

Thanks to Jim Beam for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell 18-year-old Whiskey (Maisano’s)

Photo credit: Jonathan Maisano

A few weeks ago during a visit to Maisano’s Fine Wine & Spirits, owner Jonathan Maisano passed along a sample of an 18-year-old Barrell Whiskey he was going to release soon. I’m always up for a sneak preview!

That time is now. Barrel A117, an 18-year-old Kentucky straight whiskey, has just hit that store’s shelves. Coming in at 58.29% abv, or 116.58 proof, this single barrel whiskey carries wonderful aromas.

The nose is filled with hints of orchard fruits, vanilla, and light butterscotch. Light sweet corn and butterscotch kick off the palate. Stewed fruit and a slight herbal quality develop by mid-palate. That same fruitiness and the lightest touch of baking spice, along with a hint of astringency, finish things off.

The fruit complements the butterscotch well, with some “seasoning” in the form of herbs and spice thrown in there for good measure. Given this whiskey is 18 years old, it doesn’t come across as heavy or oaky. It’s REALLY nice neat, but also works well in a highball. Maisano’s has this Barrell Whiskey on shelves for $98.13. If it’s anything like their other single barrel offerings, it’ll be gone before you know it.

Thanks to Maisano’s Fine Wine & Spirits for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Woodford Reserve Batch Proof 2020

Photo courtesy of Woodford Reserve

In my very early whiskey drinking days, Woodford Reserve was my first “premium” bourbon. This came after a while of drinking Jack Daniel’s and Evan Williams. Spending close to $30 for a bottle required some thought. Would I like it? Is it worth it? After all, good bourbon shouldn’t cost more than $25. Oh, to be in that mindset again. As expected, I fell in love with Woodford Reserve. It’s been a staple in my household since.

Years later, the brand expanded its offerings with a Double Oaked bourbon, rye whiskey, wheat whiskey, and malt whiskey. Then there’s their Master’s Collection and Distillery Series where the brand’s whiskey makers experiment with the whiskey making process. Notably missing from the lineup was a cask strength whiskey. Enter Woodford Reserve Batch Proof.

The 2020 edition of Woodford Reserve Batch Proof comes in at 123.6 proof, a far cry from the 90.4 proof of the standard expression. The extra proof amplifies the vanilla and sweet caramel notes, especially in the nose. Additional hints of buttered cornbread, oak spice, and dark chocolate round out the nose. The palate – wow. Juicy red fruit, toasted oak, and orange peel complement layers of brown sugar and vanilla. A feint cognac-like raisiny note sits on the back palate. The medium finish features refreshing spearmint.

Again – wow.

Woodford Reserve Batch Proof isn’t just a more intense version of their standard Distiller’s Select bourbon. Sure, the flavors are bolder, but the higher proof helps accentuate certain notes and downplay others. Oddly enough, the lack of spicy rye punch comes as a bit of surprise. It’s in there, but you really have to search for it. Minor criticism aside, Woodford Reserve Batch Proof is high proof bourbon worthy of its $130 price tag. A little on the expensive side, but highly recommended for those in search of a complex whiskey with a great depth of flavor.

Thanks to Woodford Reserve for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.