Beam Suntory

Review: Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-02 (Backyard BBQ)

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Summertime is synonymous with BBQ.  Former Jim Beam Master Distiller Booker Noe used to hold giant BBQs at his Bardstown, KY house, dubbing them “bourbon-ques.”  With that in mind, the second batch of Booker’s for 2018 is aptly named “Backyard BBQ.”

The barrel strength bourbon comes in at 64.4% ABV, or 128.8 proof.  The youngest barrels in the batch are 6 years, 2 months, and 10 days old.  Barrels were pulled from six locations in three different 9-story warehouses, broken down as follows:

  • 4% from warehouse E, 4th floor
  • 29% from warehouse E, 5th floor
  • 10% from warehouse E, 7th floor
  • 8% from warehouse J, 5th floor
  • 32% from warehouse I, 6th floor
  • 17% from warehouse I, 7th floor

I love the disclosure of this kind of information, especially from a company as large as Beam-Suntory.  But the important thing is how the whiskey tastes…

On the nose, a slight departure from the “classic” Booker’s profile finds maple syrup instead of vanilla as the dominant aroma.  This is still Booker’s through and through, with hints of vanilla, toasted oak, peanut butter and a touch of fresh herbs.  Slightly overcooked caramel kicks things off on the front palate, followed closely by vanilla custard and some spice. This is the point where that high proof shows its cards – a full mouthfeel and a bit of a kick.  You’re definitely in flavor town here (a Guy Fieri reference – was that really necessary?). The mid-palate brings hints of grilled corn and cigar box, with cedar shavings following.  The long finish is chest-warming, which is always welcome.  Acid reflux be damned!  Bittersweet caramel and barrel char linger.

This batch of Booker’s slightly leans towards the sweet side compared to previous batches.  It’s a welcome quality knowing it still fits under the brand’s flavor profile.  “Backyard BBQ” featured less of a corn note and more caramels, meaning it could pair nicely with BBQ ribs, or a smoked brisket, perhaps.  All in all, it’s tasty – and I wouldn’t expect anything else from Booker’s. 8/10

Bookersbourbon.com

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

Be sure to follow Adventures In Whiskey on social media for more content.

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Review: Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

New to the Knob Creek limited edition family is this beauty – a cask strength, unfiltered, 9-year-old rye whiskey. In this case, cask strength means 119.6 proof. The one off (?) expression was barreled in 2009. Though there is no explicit age statement on the label, press materials stated this is 9-years-old.

A sharp eyed viewer mentioned not seeing the word “straight” on the label. I reached out to Beam, and they informed me this is in fact a straight rye whiskey, just not labeled as such.

On the nose, hints of dark caramel and toasted rye bread are joined by baking spice, orange peel, and leather notes. The palate sees more of the same. The rye grain isn’t as prominent as other high rye whiskies due to the seemingly smaller amount of rye in the mash bill, though it is at least 51%. It’s here in the form of a pleasing buttered rye toast, so no sharpness or dill note. Dark caramel and dark brown sugar add sweetness and richness, while the familiar Jim Beam roasted peanut is ever present, as is a generous sprinkling of baking spices. A touch of orange peel and some leather on the backend add more complexity. Finally some astringent old oak leads us into the finish, which is long, bittersweet and somewhat spicy. Compared to Knob Creek Small Batch Rye, this expression comes across as less sweet with a richer, more complex flavor.

The best part here is the price. In a world that sees a large percentage of limited edition releases introduced at the $100+ price point, Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye comes in at $69.99. Kudos to whoever made that decision. Older rye whiskies are becoming more and more expensive.

My conclusion – this is a no-brainer purchase. It’s that simple. 9/10

Knobcreek.com

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

Be sure to follow Adventures In Whiskey on social media for more content.

  

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.