Beam Suntory

Review: Booker’s Bourbon 2018-01 (Kathleen’s Batch)

The first of four 2018 batches of Booker’s is hitting shelves now. Batch 2018-01, also known as “Kathleen’s Batch” is a Booker’s Roundtable selection, picked with the help of longtime Beam employee Kathleen DiBenedetto. She helped with the launch of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection with Booker Noe and was also the collection’s first brand manager. This bourbon’s namesake took DiBenedetto under his wings and made her learn every step of the bourbon-making process. In 2015, she was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. Clearly, DiBenedetto is no stranger to whiskey.

Now for this particulars of this batch. Kathleen’s Batch is six years, three months, and 14 days old. Those are the youngest barrels in the batch. Barrels come from five production dates and culled from three warehouses. As always, Booker’s is uncut and unfiltered.

Like every batch of Booker’s before it, the nose here is fantastic. Buttered sweet corn bread and maple syrup give way to vanilla and aromatic toasted oak. The palate is equally inviting. Brown sugar and pecan-topped coffee cake kick things off followed by waves of dried fruit, oak spice, and that Booker’s trademark vanilla. A touch of bittersweet barrel char hit the back palate along with medium roast coffee beans. The long, warming finish is sweet and slightly dry, with a lingering rich caramel and sweet oak note.

Damn, this is good. This batch of Booker’s comes across as richer and a bit sweeter than previous batches of late. The Booker’s Roundtable picked a wonderful batch that is still “Booker’s” in every sense while offering something extra. Booker’s is a batched product. BUT…here it’s like if all Booker’s was a single barrel product and this particular batch was a honey barrel. It’s that good. This one will be hard to beat. Wow. 9/10

Bookersbourbon.com

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

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Review: Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut Bourbon

Every blue moon, a value whiskey comes around that’ll have me doing a double take.  This is one of those whiskies.  Jim Beam just released their limited release Distiller’s Cut.  The straight bourbon is aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Let me restate that.  Aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Yep, a double take whiskey.

Distiller’s Cut is five to six years old, which puts it in Jim Beam Black Label territory in terms of age.  Black Label used to be eight years old, but lost its age statement a few years back.  Chill filtering is applied to most whiskies.  It’s done to keep the whiskey clear when adding water or ice.  Skipping the chill filtering allows the whiskey to retain all those fatty acids that help contribute to flavor and mouthfeel.  So, when you add some ice and your whiskey clouds up, it’s completely normal.  Jim Beam didn’t mess around when it came to proof, leaving Distiller’s Cut at a hearty 50% ABV.  This just about guarantees a big, bold flavor.  The surprise is the price.  A bottle will set you back $23, but you’ll most likely find it for less than that. That’s even cheaper than Jim Beam Black Label!

The nose is signature Jim Beam, full of caramel and vanilla with a touch of nuttiness, spice and oak.  Here the aromas are a bit more cohesive than the standard Jim Beam White Label and more robust than the Black Label, thanks to the higher proof.  Taste-wise, we’re talking about hints of caramel chews, grilled corn, charred oak, vanilla bean and a sprinkling of baking spice and herbs.  The finish is medium-long with a sweet and spicy cinnamon cake note.

Wow.  The whole experience for $23 or less?  Is this an answer to the criticism of late concerning some of  Beam Suntory’s high-priced releases like Knob Creek 25th Anniversary or Booker’s Rye?  If so, Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut is a proclamation that great bourbon doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Off the top of my head, the only other options that comes to mind when I think of a big, robust bourbon at around $23 is Elijah Craig Small Batch or Henry McKenna BIB.  And generally those are priced a few bucks higher.  If you know of a better value than Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut, I’m all ears.  Keep in mind this is a limited run, so find a bottle sooner than later. Jim Beam should consider making this a permanent entry in their lineup.  Highly recommended!  8.5/10

Jimbeam.com

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

Booker’s Bourbon “Sip Awhile” Batch 2017-04 Review

Making its way to shelves in time for the holiday season, Booker’s “Sip Awhile” marks the brand’s last batch of 2017. “Sip Awhile” refers to the Noe family’s insistence of having a good time while sipping on a glass of bourbon. The late Booker Noe started bottling honey barrels from the center floors of his favorite warehouses and gifting bottles to friends during the holidays. Eventually, this barrel proof bourbon became known as Booker’s bourbon.

“Sip Awhile” is bottled at a cask strength of 64.05% ABV, or 128.1 proof. The youngest barrels in the batch are 6 years, 8 months, and 14 days old. Barrels from four different production dates and three different warehouses comprise the batch.

I look at my glass of Booker’s and think, “Look at those legs!” The nose carries hints of cinnamon rolls, cedar plank, vanilla and roasted almonds. It carries with it a slightly oily and full-bodied mouthfeel. More than I remember for the last couple of batches. The palate is where Booker’s really comes to life. Initial waves of caramel and spice give way to big vanilla and barrel char. There’s a mild oak grip on the back of the palate. The long, chest-warming finish features spiced caramel, dark chocolate and sun-cured tobacco.

I haven’t enjoyed a batch of Booker’s like this since the beginning of the year with Batch 2017-01 (Tommy’s Batch). I got less of that roasted sweet corn and a bit more complexity than the last couple of releases, giving “Sip Awhile” a very slight shift in the Booker’s flavor profile. What a wonderful way to end the year. Recommended! 8.5/10

Bookersbourbon.com

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