whiskey

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.

Review: Wolves “First Run”

When James Bond (Undefeated) and Jon Buscemi (Buscemi, Truff, Oliver Peoples) decided to get into the crowded whiskey game, they knew they’d have to produce something interesting. Enter Wolves.

The duo teamed up with Charbay distiller Marko Karakasevic. Charbay is known for distilling beer instead of a traditional mash. The difference is the presence of hops. For the most part, Charbay’s releases have been well-received. It’s easy to see why Bond and Buscemi went in this direction.

Press materials state the Wolves team tasted more than 50 barrels and went through 19 different blends before landing on their first release – “First Run”. This 898 bottle run is comprised of three different whiskies distilled in a copper alambic charentais pot still, the kind used to distill cognac. The three whiskies are:

  • 8-year-old Stout whiskey matured in French oak casks
  • 5-year-old Pilsner whiskey matured in new American oak casks with a number 3 char
  • Rye whiskey

Wolves “First Run” was cut with Sonoma County water and bottled at a hearty 106 proof. The California whiskey then is lightly filtered. It’s presented in a beautiful bottle with a Italian sheepskin leather label. Fancy.

So, how does Wolves “First Run” hold up in the glass?

Young rye notes dominate the nose initally, eventually allowing sweet caramel and hops to shine through. Citrus adds a bit of freshness. The entry is creamy with hints of chocolate-covered orange peel, cigar box, spice, and hops. It’s got a slight sour beer quality in the mid-palate. The finish is long with hints of orange peel and rye spice.

The Wolves team certainly delivered an interesting whiskey. It’s different enough to stand out, but flavorful enough to become a cult hit. I didn’t think I’d like this whiskey’s hoppy quality. To be honest, it threw me off a little at first. By the third or fourth sip, I became a fan. The the decision to add rye was a smart one. It cuts through the richness of the whiskey by adding a some spice and vibrancy. I can’t wait to see what they release next.

Wolves “First Run” is available only at ReserveBar.com and Flaviar.com for $150 a bottle. I recommend this whiskey for adventurous imbibers. 8/10

Update 06/06/2019 – Wolves “First Run” is sold out. You can sign up here to be notified of an upcoming second run, soon to be announced.

wolveswhiskeyca.com

Thanks to the Wolves team for the review sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.