Booker’s

Review: Booker’s Bourbon “Teresa’s Batch” 2019-01

With the first batch of 2019, Booker’s pays tribute to longtime Jim Beam employee Teresa Wittemer. More than 30 years ago, late Master Distiller Booker Noe hired Wittemer on the spot after a short 15-minute interview. She spent most of her career in Quality Control, helping Booker Noe and his son, current Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, mingle barrels together to create batches of Booker’s bourbon.

Teresa’s Batch is 6 years, 3 months, and a day old. Barrels pulled for this batch come from three production dates and nine locations in four different warehouses:

  • 2% – 2nd floor of 7-story warehouse 5
  • 1% – 4th floor of 7-story warehouse 5
  • 10% – 6th floor of 9-story warehouse D
  • 3% – 4th floor of 9-story warehouse E
  • 25% – 5th floor of 9-story warehouse E
  • 25% – 6th floor of 9-story warehouse E
  • 28% – 5th floor of 9-story warehouse J
  • 3% – 6th floor of 9-story warehouse J
  • 3% – 8th floor of 9-story warehouse J

This batch is bottled uncut and unfiltered at 125.9 proof, or 62.95% ABV.

On the nose, hints of creamy peanut butter and sweet buttered popcorn rise out of the glass alongside a touch of vanilla and oak. Taste-wise, Booker’s signature vanilla note kicks things off, closely followed by a slightly dominant roasted peanut note, as well as brown sugar, dark fruit, and grilled corn-on-the-cob. Some oak spice and barrel char ramp up on the back palate. The finish is long and a slightly spicy.

There is usually a light, distinct peanut note found in a lot of Jim Beam products. In this batch of Booker’s, that note seems to be a major player instead of a supporting character. It throws the flavors off balance, which is highly unusual for Booker’s. “Teresa’s Batch” isn’t bad in and of itself, but when compared to previous batches of Booker’s, it falls short. If you’re looking for classic Booker’s, look elsewhere. 7/10

Bookersbourbon.com

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

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

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.