Booker’s

Review: Booker’s Bourbon “Shiny Barrel Batch” 2019-02

Back in the day, when late Master Distiller Booker Noe would walk through the warehouses looking for ‘honey barrels,’ he’d look for shiny ones. Why shiny? Distillery warehouse workers would occasionally sneak a sip from barrels. As they thieved some whiskey, they’d rub up against the barrel and remove the dust… hence shiny barrels. The shinier the barrel, the more its contents had been sampled by the warehouse workers. It’s one of the ways Noe knew which barrels to look at first when batching together his namesake whiskey. Most of those barrels were found in the center of the warehouses.

“Shiny Barrel Batch” is 6 years, 5 months, and a day old and bottled at cask strength – 124 proof.

After the previous batch being dominated by its nutty quality, Booker’s has shifted coarse back to a balanced bourbon with this batch. The nose features hints of vanilla bean, red fruit, caramel corn, and a bit of oak. The entry is a bit fiery at first, but calms slightly and presents notes of buttered corn, vanilla cream, and caramel. Red fruit and tobacco leaf appear in the mid-palate alongside some oak spice and Beam’s roasted peanut note. The latter is presented in its usual supporting nature as opposed to dominating. The finish is long with lingering hints of spiced caramel and oak.

I’m happy to report Booker’s “Shiny Barrel Batch” is more balanced than the previous batch. It’s classic Booker’s – big, bold, boisterous, flavorful, and balanced. Recommended! 8/10

Bookersbourbon.com

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

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