Booker’s

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

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Review: Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-03 “Kentucky Chew”

Booker’s just released their third batch of 2018, aptly titled “Kentucky Chew.” The uncut and unfiltered bourbon from Jim Beam is my favorite of their regular production whiskies.

Kentucky Chew refers to how late Beam Master Distiller Booker Noe tasted his whiskey. It involves drawing a little air by smacking your lips after swirling the whiskey around your mouth. If you’ve ever tasted whiskey with current Master Distiller Fred Noe, you’ve witnessed the Kentucky Chew.

Booker’s Kentucky Chew is aged 6 years, 4 months, and 12 days, and bottled at 126.7 proof. The brand released some additional info about this batch:

This batch is made up of barrels from two production dates aged in seven different locations within four warehouses. The breakdown of the barrel locations is as follows:

  • 29% from warehouse D, floor 4

  • 42% from warehouse D, floor 6

  • 8% from warehouse I, floor 4

  • 8% from warehouse I, floor 7

  • 6% from warehouse J, floor 6

  • 2% from warehouse J, floor 7

  • 5% from warehouse N, floor 5 (7 story warehouse)

The nose carries hints of coffee cake, kettle corn, and maraschino cherries. A blast of brown sugar kicks off this unusually sweet batch of Booker’s. It is joined by vanilla pudding, wood spice, and barrel char. There’s a jolt of fruitiness on the backend. The finish is not as long as recent batches of Booker’s and retains some of the sweetness of the nose and palate.

Generally speaking, every batch of Booker’s is going to be slightly different. This new one takes the largest departure in flavor profile while still remaining truly Booker’s through and through. The sweetness is mainly provided by the typical Booker’s vanilla as well as some welcome fruitiness. I don’t mind changes this “drastic” between batches so long as 1) they are delicious, and 2) the Booker’s DNA remains. As for this batch, it comes with a solid recommendation. 8/10

Bookersbourbon.com

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

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.