Jim Beam

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: Maker’s Mark Private Select (New Orleans Bourbon Fest 2019)

With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

Maker’s Mark Private Select is a great way to put your personal touch on a “single barrel” of the bourbon.  You can read more about the process here.  For the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival Private Select, co-founders Barbara & Tracy Napolitano, Martin Wine Cellar’s Jeff Hirtius, and others (including myself) sat through one of the first remote programs for the whisky.  Generally, MMPS is done at the distillery.  Regrettably,  I had to leave before the final oak finishing stave combination was chosen.

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For the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival edition of Maker’s Mark Private Select, the following oak staves were chosen:

  • 3 Baked American Pure 2
  • 1 Seared French Cuvee
  • 3 Roasted French Mocha
  • 3 Toasted French Spice

Thinking back to my memories of tasting each of the stave finishes, I really enjoyed what those last two brought to Maker’s Mark whisky.

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This edition is bottled at 110.1 proof.  The nose features spiced caramel, espresso, kettle corn, and vanilla bean.  Taste-wise, that rich caramel hinted at on the nose kicks things off here.  Vanilla cake follows just as baking spices develop.  Towards the back palate, dark-roasted coffee and some toasted oak darken things a bit.  The medium-length finish continues those rich, sweet, and spicy flavors.

This is kind of like eating coffee cake while drinking some espresso.  It’s quite tasty, and is perfect as an after-dinner pour.  I really like Private Select as a concept.  The different combinations of barrel staves can bring about some fantastic whisky.  That’s certainly true here.  8.5/10

Review: Basil Hayden’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon

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A few years back, Basil Hayden’s bourbon lost its 8 year age statement.  The brand did a nice job of keeping the flavor profile of its NAS replacement the same, or at least very, very close.  The latest limited edition offering from Basil Hayden is a 10-year-old bourbon.  It’s made from Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill, which is also used in Old Grand Dad.  Bottled at 40% ABV, Basil Hayden 10-year-old bourbon is available for $60, which is about a $20 premium over the brand’s standard bourbon.

The nose features brown sugar, rye spice, and oak.  There’s a bit of charred fruit and slightly herbaceous.  The entry is light, due to the bourbon’s low 80 proof bottling.  Delicate flavors of caramel, toasted rye bread, and oak spice emerge.  A bit of orange rind and nuts add some complexity.  The finish is short-to-medium length with hints of cinnamon sugar, toasted rye grain, and oak.  Compared to the standard Basil Hayden’s, this new 10-year-old offering isn’t as vibrant and showcases darker notes.

Is it good?  Yes.  It’s a nice enough bourbon, and fits in line with other Basil Hayden products.  Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill can be quite delicious, and this whiskey shows it.  The negative side is its low proof, which dampens the entry and diminishes the finish.

Is it worth the price of admission?  No.  Basil Hayden’s low 80 proof doesn’t seem to fit into the current world of high-proof bourbon offerings.  That aside, this bourbon doesn’t offer much more than the very solid standard bottling.  7.5/10

basilhaydens.com

Thanks to Jim Beam for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.