Booker’s Bourbon “Sip Awhile” Batch 2017-04 Review

Making its way to shelves in time for the holiday season, Booker’s “Sip Awhile” marks the brand’s last batch of 2017. “Sip Awhile” refers to the Noe family’s insistence of having a good time while sipping on a glass of bourbon. The late Booker Noe started bottling honey barrels from the center floors of his favorite warehouses and gifting bottles to friends during the holidays. Eventually, this barrel proof bourbon became known as Booker’s bourbon.

“Sip Awhile” is bottled at a cask strength of 64.05% ABV, or 128.1 proof. The youngest barrels in the batch are 6 years, 8 months, and 14 days old. Barrels from four different production dates and three different warehouses comprise the batch.

I look at my glass of Booker’s and think, “Look at those legs!” The nose carries hints of cinnamon rolls, cedar plank, vanilla and roasted almonds. It carries with it a slightly oily and full-bodied mouthfeel. More than I remember for the last couple of batches. The palate is where Booker’s really comes to life. Initial waves of caramel and spice give way to big vanilla and barrel char. There’s a mild oak grip on the back of the palate. The long, chest-warming finish features spiced caramel, dark chocolate and sun-cured tobacco.

I haven’t enjoyed a batch of Booker’s like this since the beginning of the year with Batch 2017-01 (Tommy’s Batch). I got less of that roasted sweet corn and a bit more complexity than the last couple of releases, giving “Sip Awhile” a very slight shift in the Booker’s flavor profile. What a wonderful way to end the year. Recommended! 8.5/10

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


Booker’s Bourbon “Front Porch Batch” 2017-03 Review

After a hard day’s work, sometimes there’s nothing better than sipping a glass of whiskey on your porch. That’s exactly what Booker’s “Front Porch Batch” celebrates. The third of four 2017 releases is already on shelves. This batch of Jim Beam’s cask strength bourbon is bottled at 62.95%, or 125.9 proof. For the whiskey geek, here’s a breakdown of which 9-story warehouses barrels for Front Porch Batch were pulled from:

  • 8% from 5th floor of warehouse D
  • 14% from 7th floor of warehouse D
  • 37% from 4th floor of warehouse E
  • 5% from the 5th floor of warehouse E
  • 16% from the 6th floor of warehouse E
  • 20% from the 4th floor of warehouse F

On the nose, this batch of Booker’s is full of charred corn, peanut brittle, vanilla and the lightest touch of fresh tobacco. The palate bursts with hints of buttered cornbread, caramel chews, nougat, roasted peanuts and some oak. The entry is a bit hotter than usual, but that burn goes away rather quickly. The body is still pretty chewy, as expected with Booker’s. Compared to other batches, the finish slightly disappoints. It carries a vanilla-tinged sweet corn and oak flavor, which is normal. However, and this is confirmed with the batch’s official tasting notes, the finish is a bit shorter than usual. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I expect a long finish from my glass of Booker’s.

At the end of the day, most batches of Booker’s taste pretty similar. Though they follow a specific flavor profile, each batch can be slightly different. Front Porch Batch is still an enjoyable glass of bourbon, but not the best Booker’s can offer. 8/10

Collabor&tion Review

Photo credit Bardstown Bourbon Company

The Bardstown Bourbon Company joined forces with Copper & Kings for Collabor&tion, a limited release of two different whiskies.  Started in 2015, Collabor&tion is a project two years in the making.  Both products start with a 10-year-old bourbon from MGP.  One spends more than 18 months being finished in ex-American brandy casks from Copper & Kings and bottled at a cask strength of 113 proof.  The other release sees a similarly extended secondary maturation period in Muscat mistelle barrels bottled at a lower 94 proof.  Both whiskies are non-chill filtered.  

I’m a big fan of Copper & Kings, and MGP can produce some wonderful whiskey.  Bardstown Bourbon Company selected the barrels used for this release, and both companies worked together on the blend.

So, how are they?  In a word – fruity.  I should elaborate.

Let’s start with the whiskey finished in Muscat mistelle casks.  First, what’s mistelle?  It is unfermented grape juice fortified with unaged brandy.  The nose is full of caramelized fruit, plums, and a slightly musty quality.  On the palate, Muscat grapes permeate the bourbon’s DNA.  The whiskey’s dark caramel gives way to the dark fruits, citrus zest, and some oak.  The long finish leaves some spice, fruit and slight floral notes.

The other release, finished in ex-American brandy casks, starts with a more robust nose showcasing hints of mulled wine, brown sugar, lemon oil, and oak.  Tastewise, spice and citrus are layered on top of velvety caramel and fruit jam.  Some oak tannins make their appearance going into the finish, which brings to the forefont the whiskey’s concentrated spiced fruit character, soon becoming dry.

Here’s the thing: I don’t smell or taste anything that resembles bourbon.  The spirit’s character is completely overtaken by the barrel finishing, thus my aforementioned use of the adjective ‘fruity’.  In other words, these releases are more brandy/mistelle and less bourbon.  As they stand, however, Collabor&tion is quite delicious.  I would happily buy a bottle of the brandy cask-finished whiskey, but I would struggle to call it bourbon.  

Muscat mistelle cask-finished bourbon – 8/10

American brandy cask-finished bourbon – 8.5/10

Thanks to the Bardstown Bourbon Company for the samples.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.