Bourbon

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: Michter’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon (Spring 2019)

Spring generally means the release of one of my favorite bourbons – Michter’s 10-year-old. This limited release 2019 bottling is the last under the supervision of Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann, who is now retired as of this post. I think Pamela Heilmann has overseen some fantastic releases over the last few years. Cheers to her!

As for the new team, Michter’s Distiller Dan McKee has been promoted to Master Distiller, and Distiller Manager Matt Bell is now Distiller. McKee cut his teeth at Jim Beam, eventually taking on the role as Distillery Supervisor at the Booker Noe Distillery. Bell worked at both Town Branch Distillery and Wild Turkey Distillery.

Onto the whiskey… my sample bottle comes from barrel #190634. It’s bottled at 47.2% ABV, or 94.4 proof. It undergoes Michter’s signature filtration prior to bottling. The suggested retail price is $130.

The nose features a nice mix of classic bourbon notes of caramel, vanilla, orange peel, and oak. Additionally, spiced apples and cigar box join the party. Taste-wise, more of the same: chewy dark caramel, red berries, and vanilla extract meet continuous waves of cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Aromatic oak and herbal notes arrive in the back palate and eventually into the finish, which is long and a bit dry. Lingering notes of oak spice, caramel, and slight barrel char remain.

Ten years is usually my sweet spot in terms of preference of age. If matured properly, the resultant bourbon can be beautifully balanced between both the spirit and barrel influence. This year’s release is certainly well balanced, rich, and complex. One of my favorite bottlings of the last couple of years. 9/10

Michters.com

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