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Bakers 7 Year Old

Dessert, anyone?

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

2nd Jan 2012

0

  • Nose
    23
  • Taste
    22
  • Finish
    22
  • Balance
    23
  • Overall
    90

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

My non-alcoholic lunch at County General today made me want to try this new bourbon when I got home (County General has an excellent bourbon selection on full display. If you are in Toronto, check it out, I recommend either the fried chicken or the reuben sandwich). It was worth waiting for. Thin bodies yet with a deep maroon colour. Very complex nose with cinnamon, vanilla and burnt sugar enveloped by charred oak. In the mouth, it is much like the nose, but fiery with cayenne pepper. With water, things get even better - nose becomes buttery, with cocoa and rye - like a baked pie crust! And the taste becomes even more chocolaty, with more and more rye. In fact, the more I taste it, the more it seems to be approaching a straight rye, but with those sweet chocolate pastry elements balancing it out. Very full bodied, with more oomph than its sister Jim Beam's Small Batch, Basil Hayden. Distiller Baker Beam recommends having it over ice with a splash of water, I just may do that later...

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11 comments

@Pudge72
Pudge72 commented

Great review...I would be really interested in your thoughts if you have had a sample of Bookers, on how those two compare. BTW, where is County General located in Toronto? Thanks!

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I haven't sampled Booker's yet - my friend Caroline has a bottle and keeps threatening to invite me over to try it, yet she never does...hopefully she will now that she also has a Lagavulin 1994 Distiller's Edition!

But Booker's is available at County General, as is Baker's, a Pappy Van Winkle, Blanton's, as well as a few others you wouldn't find at an LCBO. The restaurant is on Queen St. W. on the northeast corner of Shaw.

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Also, have tried it with ice - easier to drink down, I guess, but the ice closes off so many nuances (and replaces them only with more gulpability) that it really doesn't do it justice.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Nice and fun review, @talexander. For a year or two Baker's was my favourite bourbon. At 53.5% it retains a lot of flavour. The thing about Baker's bourbon that really fascinates me is that despite having the standard Beam mash bill, it tastes to me quite a bit different from all of the other Beam products. I have always suspected that it might be the strain of yeast used.

7 years ago 0

@michaelschout
michaelschout commented

Great review, and thanks for the County General suggestion. I will probably check it out next weekend.

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Michaelschout: I hope you like it, it's a good place. If you decide to check it out another time besides next weekend, I'd be happy to join and meet you (my weekend is packed).

Victor: I'm extremely impressed with Baker's. Do you think the flavour is really enhanced by the yeast? I'm wondering if the casks have more to do with the flavour (during maturation) than the yeast. But it's perplexing: Basil Hayden's tastes "younger" (at 8 years) than Baker's (at 7 years). Haven't tried Knob Creek nor Booker's yet (but I do enjoy Baker's more than the standard Jim Beam). But the mash bill must be different from the other Beam Small Batches (or Large Batches), I would imagine. The rye notes tell me that has more prominence over any malt or grain....Interesting puzzle........

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

One other random note: being a guy on my own tonight, I searched the fridge and found some carrots to roast, and pan-fried a salmon filet with it. I had already dipped into the Baker's, and lo and behold found it went strangely well with the random non-sensical meal I had (really...salmon and carrots??) The caramelization of the roast carrots, the caramelization of the salmon in the pan, and the sweet smoky bourbon worked tremendously. Who knew? Very weird and surprising and rewarding.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Basil Hayden's and Old Grand-Dad (named by Basil Hayden's grandson), have higher rye content mashbills than do the other Beam line Bourbons: White Label, White Label 7 yrs (regional), that 6 yr Black Label that they sell at LCBO (but not in Md.), standard 8 yo Black Label, Booker's, Baker's, and the two versions of Knob Creek. Basil Hayden is often credited with having introduced significant portions of rye into the Kentucky bourbons, having come to Kentucky from Maryland, which, along with Pennsylvania, was the traditional US rye whiskey making region.

I have always found Baker's to taste significantly different from all of the the other Beam products. It is not from the mashbill, and I strongly doubt that it is from the water. Distilleries do use unique yeast strains for their individual products. I have always thought that the distinct taste of Baker's derived from the yeast used. Finding any way to measure something like that is a perplexing question. Differences due to yeast strains seem to me to be something which for the time being have to wind up being lumped into that catch-all container "the ART of whiskey-making".

As to 'younger' taste of Basil Hayden's versus Booker's, I don't find much that I can differentiate in bourbons between 6 and 9 years. 'Young' is frequently associated with weaker, or less intense flavour due to less development. I would be inclined to associate the lesser intensity of Basil Hayden's to the degree of dilution introduced by bottling Basil Hayden's at 40% ABV vs the 53.5% ABV of Baker's. I like the flavours of Basil Hayden's, which is a little unusual for me, since 40% ABV is usually just way too dilute for my taste. Oddly, others have sometimes observed, and I agree with them, that some of the best bourbons are bottled at 107 proof: Baker's, Old Weller Antique 107, and Pappy Van Winkle 15.

7 years ago 0

@stevesmyth30
stevesmyth30 commented

I agree with Victor...the Basil tastes "younger" because its only 80 proof. While the Bakers is at 107. I enjoy Basil straight up during the summer when its hot out, or while I am grilling....as its "lighter". I drop the slightest bit of room temp water to my Bakers..I think it "opens" it up for me. I wish I could do this without diluting the strength, as I love a good 50-55% juice, but for some reason the flavor of Bakers opens more with a splash...maybe I will try just letting it breath in the glass for a minute or two longer and not add water?

7 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I find the Baker's is definitely better with a splash of water, but then again I feel that way about most whiskies.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

I don't know the chemistry intimately, but a group I was a part of was told by the A. Smith Bowman Master Distiller, Truman Cox, that water added to whisk(e)y will most definitely release lipid-soluble flavour components contained within the alcohol phase of the whiskey. It is NOT your imagination that you are finding some additional tastes in the whiskey after you add a bit of water to it. Bowman is one of Sazerac Company's three distilleries, along with Buffalo Trace and Barton 1792. Before being recently named as Bowman's new Master Distiller, Truman Cox was the Chief Chemist at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. If anyone knows about this, he does.

7 years ago 0

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