Unlike the Booker's expressions available in the LCBO (which are the "export" batches), this Fred Noe-signed bottle was purchased by yours truly at the Jim Beam distillery (a mandatory visit for any whisky lover). And unlike the export batches, this bottle comes with an insert that explains the name, gives the locations of the barrels used and includes some tasting notes.
For those who want the detail: 4% came from the 6th floor of Warehouse F; 4% from the 7th floor of Warehouse F; 8% from the 4th floor of Warehouse E; 39% from the 5th floor of Warehouse E; and 45% from the 7th floor of Warehouse H. These three warehouses all have 9 floors. The name "Sip Awhile" comes from a phrase of Booker Noe's, who would invite both new and old friends to come over and "sip awhile" when he opened a bottle (according to Fred Noe's notes, anyway...) This is the final batch of Booker's 2017 releases.
The colour is a reddish copper. Very nutty on the nose: almond skins, hazelnut and pecan pie. Lots of caramelized sugars, with humidor and furniture polish. Vanilla pods. Red apple skins. Water brings out cherries and big campfire smoke. Extremely rich and enticing.
An explosion on the palate with massive oak, thick dark caramel, bruised mint and dark chocolate. A hint of sourdough. Black cherry. Baked apples. A ribbon of mint running through, which becomes accentuated with a drop of water. An extremely complex, very solid bourbon though it's a bit too much of a bruiser.
The finish is huge wood smoke with serious umami, mint and baking spices. This is bracing stuff, and of course I love it as I do all Booker's releases, but it could help with being dialled down just a little bit. Compared to 2017-01E, 2017-04 is darker in colour, bolder and nuttier on the nose, and a lot bigger on the palate. These qualities don't necessarily make 2017-04 better - in fact, I am appreciating the lower volume of 2017-01E at this moment - but both together make for an elegant and relaxing end to a wonderful Father's Day. And now it's time for that cigar (Tabak Especial from Nicaragua, if you must know...)