Baker's 7 Year Old has always been one of my favourite Jim Beam expressions, and they have re-tooled the product and the design to make it a single barrel that is at minimum 7 years old (but not barrel proof: the ABV will always be 53.5%) This makes it so much more fun to compare different barrels; I've got two in front of me and we'll try them side by side.
This one was barrelled Jan 2011 (000024673) and matured for 8 years and 6 months in warehouse CL-D.
The colour is a deep, dark amber. On the nose we have dark chocolate, cumin, cinnamon, charred orange peel and burnt caramel. Super oaky, but also green wood right behind...oh, and sawdust... well pretty much every wood note you can think of. Smores. Spent campfire. Slight hint of basil. A drop of water brings out green banana skins and enveloping wood smoke. So deep, rich and complex, and without the punch in the face you might get from a Bookers, for example.
On the palate we get big dark cherries, mouth-drying oak and mint, while the spice is a bit more subdued than on the nose - it holds its ABV really well. With time the mint becomes more prominent; and the whole thing really pops with a drop of water, adding red apple skins and Vietnamese beef broth.
The finish is chalky with chili, parsley, black pepper and layers of charred oak. I haven't had Baker's in a long time, and it's just as great as I remember, if not better. The nose especially really kicks ass, and it's a lovely sipper. #16 on Whisky Advocate's Top 20 of 2019 (though a different barrel). Let's see what another barrel tastes like next to it....