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Bakers 7 Year Old

A Big Pop in the Mouth

2 1088

@VictorReview by @Victor

18th Feb 2011

0

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    88

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Baker's is a Beam Brands small batch bourbon named after Jim Beam's grandnephew Baker Beam, and is said to be Baker Beam's invention. Beam Brands claims that Baker's uses a special 60 yr old strain of yeast and the standard Beam brand mashbill. Beam small batch bourbons also include Booker's, Basil Hayden's and Knob Creek. Baker's is 7 years old

Nose: fairly strong intensity, a lot of spice, sweet maple, vanilla, caramel, honey

Taste: a pause for 2 or 3 seconds, then an explosion of intense rye spices, mostly pepper, intense oak, sugar maple, oak, vanilla, caramel

Finish: after the explosion of taste, this one hangs around only for a short time before falling to the ground like Ikaros or fireworks. Jim Murray gave Baker's a mediocre grade of 81.5/100 primarily because he disliked the 'finish'

Balance: I see this bourbon as one of the "big statement" whiskeys, like Old Grand-Dad 114, which does not attempt 'balance' or coherent finish. If you can enjoy the extremely amazing palate flavours and don't insist upon a refined concept of 'finish' then you can really love this bourbon. Two years ago, when I had tasted only 6 or 8 bourbons, this was my favourite bourbon. I am a "big flavours" guy: Ardbeg Uigeadail, Aberlour A'bunadh, George T. Stagg, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, William Larue Weller, Willett and Old Potrero are my favourite whiskies. If you are a 'big flavours' drinker, give Baker's a try. Also, I do in fact very much suspect that the yeast strain used in Baker's has everything to do with its unique taste-- it really doesn't taste to my palate anything like any of the other Beam products. I thought this about the yeast being the unique Baker's flavour factor long before I read that Beam stated this to be the case. I strongly believe that the differences in yeast strains accounts for many of the differences in the flavours of various whiskies. No one likes to talk much about the yeast influences in whiskies-- I suspect because this factor is so difficult to pin down, define and quantify

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10 comments

@LeFrog
LeFrog commented

@Victor, I enjoy reading about these small batch bourbons, great reviews. It feels like an education in American whiskey.

Keep em' coming....

8 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

Lovely review, as usual @Victor! Like you, I scored this one more highly than Murray, though admittedly it's not my favourite of the Beam Small Batch Collection.

One thing to note: while I agree with you that the yeast strain can be rather important (look to the Four Roses Single Barrel bottlings for evidence of this), Baker's is not made with a different yeast from standard Jim Beam, Knob Creek, or Booker's. It is indeed that same ol' jug yeast; Beam simply highlights its use in the packaging of Baker's, even though it's used in most of their products. Of the Beam Small Batch Collection, it is in fact Basil Hayden's that has a unique yeast, one it shares (along with its mash bill) with Old Grand-Dad.

I agree, in any case, that it has a flavour profile distinct from the other standard Beam mash bill offerings, but I'm guessing this is down to the barrel location, ages of the various whiskies in the vatting (though a minimum of 7, of course), etc.

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@dbk, very interesting information on the yeast. Where does one go to get this sort of information? I have not seen this sort of discussion in print online thus far.

8 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

@Victor, it can be tough to find, but there are some pretty reputable sources, like Chuck Cowdery, that have pointed this out. Bourbon boards can be quite helpful, too. The promotional packaging for Baker's makes a lot of the jug yeast, but from what I recall, they never outright say that they use it exclusively for Baker's.

To the best of anyone's knowledge, Beam has only two bourbon mash bills (using a different yeast for each): one for Jim Beam (white, black, etc.), Knob Creek, Booker's, Baker's, Old Crow, and Old Taylor; the other for Old Grand-Dad and Basil Hayden's.

8 years ago 0

@tedtiv
tedtiv commented

I just bought a bottle of Baker's and while I like it... I find it unremarkable when compared to Knob Creek SBR and Booker Noe.

8 years ago 0

Fiver67 commented

Just came from a Whiskey Fest. Ended up buying 2 bottles of Bakers. I loved the big sweet bite! Other bourbon and ryes on hand that I tasted were: Bulliet 10 YR.Old, George Dickel Barrel Select, Rock Hill Farms, Bookers, Blantons, Calumet, Buffalo Trace, Wathens, Medley 12 YR.Old, Bulliet rye, Dickel Rye. I tried Buffalo Trace first and than Blantons. Third taste was Bakers and this one I really loved. At I price of $29.99 this was by far the best value and Eagle Rare which was $24.99. Calumet was priced the highest at $50. In conclusion after trying the bakers I could find no other bourbon that I enjoyed more than the Bakers. To give you an idea of my bourbon experience I believe Wild Turkey is the ultimate bourbon to begin with at about $21 a bottle and Four roses Yellow Label would be the first bourbon to have someone try for a smooth experience.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Fiver67, yes, Baker's has always been large in my affections. Great bourbon. $ 30 is an ultra cheap price for it too. Cheers!

I had forgotten that @dbk mentioned that Baker's is reported to have the same yeast as other Jim Beam standard mashbill bourbons. That is very mysterious to me, since Baker's still tastes to me like a VERY different bourbon, compared to everything else in Jim Beam's standard mashbill (15% rye) line-up, e.g. Jim Beam White, Jim Beam Black, Booker's, Knob Creek.

5 years ago 0

Fiver67 commented

drinkhacker.com/2012/10/… Here is an interesting article concerning yeast for Beam. To me jim Beam White, Black and Knob Creek have a similar taste and Bakers to me is completely different. I have not had Bookers in about 10 years so I don't know the taste profile of that one. I have had Jim Beam Black 1 time taste on par with Knob Creek.

5 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

So glad that you liked they Baker's, @Fiver67! However, let me assure you that, despite what the drinkhacker article says, Baker's uses the very same yeast as Booker's, Knob Creek, and the standard Beam bottlings. Highlighting the yeast strain on the Baker's label is merely a marketing ploy.

There are many, many variables that influence the final taste of a whiskey, and they can have pronounced effects. We often single out the most obvious—the mash bill and the yeast—but the truth is that we can't know what makes Baker's taste different from the others without careful experimentation, ruling out one variable after another until we find the ones (and their interactions) that matter. And that's a lot more work than any distillery—yes, even Buffalo Trace, with its experimental collection and single oak collection—has put in so far.

5 years ago 0

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