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Booker's Small Batch Bourbon

Average score from 25 reviews and 70 ratings 89

Booker's Small Batch Bourbon

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@newreverie
Booker's Small Batch Bourbon

This wraps up my reviews of the 2015 series from Jim Beam Booker's Small Batch Bourbon. The final batch has been aged 6yrs 8mo 7days and bottled at 64.05%. Reviewing an entire years worth of batches has been a very interesting experience.
First I never expected there to be such flavor variation from a major label. I traditionally associated booker's with a specific flavor profile of wood, cinnamon, vanilla, and a sweet sticky mouthfeel, but now I know that the flavors can vary rather widely depending on the people involved in the roundtable.
Second, I never expected there to be such a wide variance in quality between the batches. Over six batches I've scored this bourbon between 65 and 94 with an average score of 83. Before writing these reviews I'd tell you that Booker's is an 88 or 89 point bourbon, but now I realize that it can be very good, very bad, or even just average.

Nose: Wood, cinnamon, corn syrup, cherry, clove, and alcohol.

Taste: Woody and spicy but not overly hot or bitter. Subtle cherry and vanilla. Water improves the flavors, increases the sweetness, and balances this one out.

Finish: Warm to hot with drying wood and lingering sweetness and spice.

Balance: Good flavor but lacking in overall depth.

Final Thoughts: It is oddly appropriate that this batch falls in line with the average of the others. If you like a woody bourbon with good spice, a smoothish profile, and some variation from batch to batch then Booker's is the perfect choice. See below for all of my 2015 Booker's reviews

2015-1 Big Man Small Batch 64.35% connosr.com/bookers-small-batch-bourbon-wh…

2015-02 Dot's Batch 63.95% connosr.com/bookers-small-batch-bourbon-wh…

2015-03 The Center Cut 63.60% connosr.com/bookers-small-batch-bourbon-wh…

2015-4 Oven Buster Batch 63.5% connosr.com/bookers-small-batch-bourbon-wh…

2015-5 Maw Maw's Batch 64.00% connosr.com/booker-noes-bourbon-7-year-old…

nice round up. love 60%+ bourbon of this quality, makes you feel alive.

@newreverie

Booker's 2015-4 Oven Buster Batch 6yr 5mo 20days 63.5

Nose: Orange marmalade, amaretto, toasted bread,coffee, brown sugar, cocoa nibs

Taste: Wood, raisin, pecan pie, oiled leather. Hints of chocolate, orange, and honey.

Finish: Cinnamon and vanilla. Barrel char follows with hints of tea leaves. Surprisingly tame for the proof.

Balance: Excellent overall with bold and full flavors.

Final Thoughts: I've loved this bourbon from the start. I've tasted from or purchased 6 bottles of this batch and it is consistently excellent. If you can still find a bottle, buy it! This is a top tier bourbon for around $50.

For me, sweet orange in whisky is a great treat. With tea and cinnamon too, this sounds a bit like sweetened orange spice tea...with lots of other stuff thrown in.

@newreverie, thanks for your very nice review.

I just checked my bottle that I purchased in Nova Scotia last year ($62 CAD) and it is this batch. I will look forward to it when I finish my batch of CO5-A-12 which is fantastic, albeit opened for almost 1 1/2 years now.

@Pierre_W

In 1988, Booker Noe (Jim Beam’s grandson) introduced Booker’s as a private offering. It was “uncut, straight from the barrel”, which is how whiskey was distributed before the days of bottling, when customers would bring jugs to the distillery and got them filled straight from the barrel. In 1992, Booker’s was publicly launched as the first representative of Jim Beam’s small batch Bourbon collection that also includes Baker’s, Basil Hayden’s and Knob Creek. The review looks at the second Booker’s batch of 2015 that was made up of barrels that were aged from January 2007 to February 2008.

The nose is lush and nutty, with just a light alcoholic burn at the very beginning. I got distinct flavours of rye upfront, followed by caramel, fudge, vanilla, and marzipan. Later on there were hints of oranges and cedar wood.

The palate is medium-bodied and spicy. Even more than on the nose there is plenty of caramel, followed by dark fruits (raisins and cherries), liquorice, vanilla and a hint of tobacco. A nice wood spice note chimes in right at the end, not overbearing in any way but still quite noticeable.

The finish is long and warming. Wood spice and tobacco flavours last to the very end.

There always is a bottle of Booker’s in my whisk(e)y cabinet. I have been drinking Booker’s for a number of years but only now got round to write a review. It probably is my favourite everyday Bourbon and I do love the intensity of the flavours at play. The alcohol impact is big, given that we speak of proof of between 121 and 130, however it usually is beautifully integrated and with this batch I was not even ready to call the palate “full-bodied”. In other words, the alcohol is there and gives the flavour profile a lift but it is hardly ever overbearing. This is the good stuff right there.

@newreverie

7 years 2 months 28 days in new oak sounds like a great start to a Booker's Bourbon. This batch was also the first tasting panel release of 2015.

Sadly I do not agree with the panel's choices on this release. The center cut is supposed to come from Booker Noe's favorite locations in the aging warehouse. These locations should have imparted great depth and flavor but after having tasted half a bottle of this batch it does not live up to the Booker's standard. A note, water or ice must be added to gain maximum enjoyment of this batch.

Nose: Caramel and light wood.

Taste: Woody, spicy, some vanilla, but lacks cohesion. The batch just does not sing in the harmony I've come to associate with Booker's.

Finish: Spicy and unbalanced. The wood dominates.

I do not read other reviews prior to writing my own, but it appears my assessment is in line with others. thewhiskeywash.com/bourbon/…

@talexander

Today's Booker's - obtained through the LCBO - is Batch No. 2016-01E. Strangely, it is not mentioned on the website (which mentions a Batch No. 2016-01 at 63.95%) Was this an errant batch that was secretly kicked up to Canada? Note that the bottle has been open for about a month or so.

The colour is a deep reddish copper. On the nose - careful, it'll blast you - juicy bubblegum, cherry compote, wet tobacco, crushed mint and charred oak. A big giant sawmill, plus the fireplace just went out - big woodsmoke. And smokier with water! Rich and beautiful.

On the palate - big alcohol, but behind that there are more cherries, plums, mouth-pulling tannins, huge oak and tons of fruit baked in the oven with cinnamon and cloves. Hotter and spicier - and more mouth-coating - with water. Fantastic.

The palate is long with lots of tobacco, spice and wet campfire. Booker's is my favourite Jim Beam product, and every batch continues to amaze. This is no exception!

Thanks for sharing. I also wondered why this release is not mentioned anywhere. I also saw a bottle of 2015-05 but no "Maw Maw's" and icon on the label. A Canadian special?

It's entirely possible - maybe the website only mentions bottlings for the US market?

@newreverie

Booker's 2015-02, 7yrs 0mo 18days

Nose: Alcohol forward backed by deep oak. Chocolate and old leather.

Taste: Sweet corn and a surprising rye character. Spice burn can be a little rough, but a little water smoothes this one out beautifully and opens the flavors up to include oak, vanilla creme brulee, but also some unsavory sour citrus that seem out of place.

Finish: A strange but good Tingling burn on the bottom of my tongue. Sweet and sticky candied popcorn. I feel like I could pick this bourbon out of my teeth.

Balance: Maybe a little unfinished. I prefer this bookers with a little ice. The burn with this one is tolerable and perhaps expected with a 64% abv but there is a lack of depth and flavor to compensate.

Final Thoughts: On more than one occasion i've fallen asleep before finishing a glass and have come back to it the next day and found the rough edges have been smoothed over. An old dinking expression for consuming an early morning drink is "hair of the dog", I can't help but think that is why this one is called dot's batch.

Haven't opened my 700 cc travel retail bottle of this, which I bought in San Francisco, but I notice the ABV is listed as 63.7%. I wonder why.

@newreverie

Booker's 2015-1, 7yrs 2mo 16days

Nose: Cherries, wood, and barrel strength alcohol. Searching deeper brings out orange candies, some sour citrus, and black pepper.

Taste: A forest of oak and maple. Young leather, like a freshly cleaned saddle. There is a burn, but not a smooth one that comes with finer or older bourbons. I prefer to tame it with a dash of water. The water thins the sweet syrup I typically associate with Booker's, but brightens the palate with more cherries, chocolate, and vanilla.

Finish: This batch sticks with you. A great finish full of wood and spice.

Balance: Sometimes the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. There are flaws in this batch, but each segment works with the others and brings a rare harmony.

Final Thoughts: This is a great bourbon and worthy of the late Booker Noe. The only batch I've had of this quality is the 25th Anniversary. It isn't perfect, but it is one of the best bourbon's of 2015.

@Nozinan I haven't seen the 2015-05 yet, but I plan to have all 6 releases from this year and do a side by side comparison. I still have unopened bottles of 2015 1-4. Having had 01 and 02 in the same sitting, the 2015-01 is the better bourbon in the traditional sense. I do not rate the 02 as highly for two reasons: The citrus and rye notes are out of place in the Booker's flavor profile and the sweetness isn't balanced across the palate. The 02 is very sweet on entry like the burnt/caramel sugar of a creme brulee, but that is followed by peppery and oaky rye notes. Don't get me wrong, I love rye, but this is a Booker's bourbon we're talking about. Once I taste all six I plan on attempting a Booker's 2015 blend and storing it in my 25th anniversary bottle which is nearly empty.

This is an excellent batch of Booker's! I've never tasted any batches head to head (I have a 2013 batch I will open next so I might be able to) so I can't say which was best, and I certainly did like the 25th anniversary one as well, but it is hard to imagine going wrong with Bookers's. Almost makes me regret leaving that bottle of 2015-05 on the shelf in Vancouver...

@newreverie

Booker's C06-K-8 130.4 proof 6yrs 0mo

Almost four years ago I purchased a bottle of bookers as a house (and throat) warming gift for a neighbor. It was the first bottle of bookers I'd ever bought. We opened it that night and I was hooked after tasting the rich velvety corn and barrel strength depth inside. That bottle of bookers is what started me on the path of enjoying aged spirits.

This review is not of that bottle. It is a review of the second bottle of bookers I've ever bought. Having tried the gift bottle I went back to the store for another, but they were all gone. Nearly two months passed before bookers returned to shelves, but eventually I had a bottle to call my own.

Now in a bid to make space for the 2015 batches, this bottle was chosen as my daily drinker. I was shocked at how much remained in the bottle, it was nearly 3/4 full. I was further intrigued by the age statement 6yrs 0mo, could this be the youngest bookers ever made?

I started calling this batch the fountain of youth in honor of its age and what it represents to me. Every pour has been like opening a time capsule filled with memories from one of the most important and influential periods of my life.

Tried neat I can't say this is the best bookers ever. It isn't, and it may even be the worst. The bourbon here is unruly and lacks the balance, sweetness, and depth I've come to expect. The nose confirms the proof and not much else. Given some air time cherries appear, but they pair with a bitter rye. The taste isn't much better. Old wood set on fire. Balance and finish don't merit a discussion.

A cube of ice improves things a little. The nose turns to sweet cherries rolled in brown sugar. The taste is still flat and woody, but enjoyable now that the burn is gone. Balance and finish are still weak.

Bookers should be aged at least 7 years. Beam made a mistake releasing this batch and I can't help but wonder if it was released in haste of getting it back on the shelves. That said, Booker's is a special bourbon for me. I've enjoyed this bottle for the last few weeks. Not because of the contents, but because of what it stood for. I have one more bottle of bookers to finish for space reasons. It happens to be the oldest I've ever found at 7yr 11mo. I think I'll name it father time.

@talexander

Here's Batch 2015-01, the first batch of this year. Booker's is calling it "Big Man, Small Batch." It's been matured for 7 years, 2 months and 16 days (well that's being specific). Let's try it next to Batch 2014-01, the famous (and extremely rare) 25th Anniversary bottling. I should note that both bottles have been open - and are in their last fifth - for quite some time.

The colour is a deep reddish copper. On the nose, deep dark black cherries, mint and nutmeg. There is a vanilla here but it's peeking out from behind antique furniture, dusty bookshelves and pencil shavings. Orange pith. Very herbal. Beautifully oaky. Dustier - and more herbal - with water. This one throbs.

More citrusy on the palate, with lemon and orange working side by side. Mouth-drying with all that oak and alcohol! More cherry with black liquorice, sage, balsamic, walnut and blackberries. A drop of water makes it almost syrupy - in a good way! Extremely complex and powerful, yet always elegant.

The finish is deep and dark, very robust with rye spice, cigar ash, more black liquorice and mint. Very long and dry. More refined than that big bruiser of 2014, which slapped you in the face and kicked you in the ass (which was over 10 years old)! Not quite as spectacular either but hey that's less a complaint than a reminder of just how extraordinary and one-of-a-kind that 25th Anniversary bottling was. Still, 2015-01 is another great Booker's, staying strong and classy.

Great review! This my favourite Booker's to date.

It's pretty great (I'm having some more right now!) but really, nothing beats that 25th Anniversary edition.

@Nozinan

This review is part of a head to head between 2 high ABV whiskies, Booker’s batch 2015-01, and Amrut Single cask Bourbon finished single malt.

This batch has received some spectacular accolades on Connosr and elsewhere, and according to the Booker’s website is the first of 7 special releases this year. This was matured for 7 years, 2 months and 16 days and is bottled at barrel strength of 64.35% ABV. This particular bottle has been open for a couple of weeks and has been gassed each time.


Nose Neat:

Warm caramel and vanilla, yeast dough. Becomes sweeter with time in the glass. Brown Demerara sugar. After 5-10 minutes the nose has stopped developing, and it remains rich, inviting and refreshing. 22/25

Taste Neat:

Warm, rich. The first sip completely overwhelms the palate at 64%. The subsequent sips reveal caramel, brown sugar and vanilla almost to excess. I detect a little bit of cinnamon or some sort of baking spice. This is not a subtle whisky. It is bold and powerful. And GOOD! 23/25

The finish is dry, and to some extent unidimentional. It lasts a long time. 22/25

Balance:

Not only do the nose and the palate complement each other, after a couple of sips the nose is enhanced. 23/25

What Booker’s lacks in complexity, it has in abundance flavour and boldness.


Because this is a head to head, I did add a few drops of water and let it sit 10 minutes:

Nose: Not much different.

Taste: Becomes hotter (some might call it spicier) but it’s not a good thing.

This is one that ought to be taken neat (my personal preference only).


Chocolate (with the neat spirit):

Trader Joe’s Milk: - awesome combination

Trader Joe’s Dark: - good fit, but different from the experience with Milk chocolate

TJ’s 85% dark chocolate: Doesn’t really add much.


Booker’s is a consistently excellent bourbon and this is an awesome batch.


I performed the sacrilegious act of mixing my remaining Amrut and Booker’s together (50:50). How would the bourbon-matured single malt react with powerful bourbon? My hypothesis is that Booker’s would overwhelm the Amrut.

After a few minutes:

The nose is more muted than the Booker’s alone, and has more sweetness, but is not as bright and fruity as the Amrut alone.

On tasting,surprisingly, the bourbon doesn’t overwhelm the malt, with a lot of the flavours coming through.

This is a vatting success.

@newreverie, Cherries on the nose reminding me of Four Roses 125th. Ripe banana and vanilla. The cherry note faded after a week, and a half bottle.

I agree this whisky does not come across as being complex, but I think Fred and the Beam Team have drawn on their intricate knowledge of Booker's and married some fine barrels to create this well balanced and intensely sweet batch. I love the pepper, from mid-palate to finish. This batch is right in my wheelhouse - Pecan pie and raisin butter tarts. When I want something with less vanilla and less coma-inducing sweetness, I'll reach for a heavy measure of rye or peat.

This is a lot of fun, discovering the varying interpretations for this batch. I'm anxious to learn your thoughts on batch 2015 - 02.

@Nozinan, yes, I too recommend this batch of Booker's be drunk neat. I don't find any improvement when water is added.

Although availability is limited in my region, I continue to harvest as much of this batch as possible. Not your run of the mill Booker's. For me this is a very special batch.

Very interesting...I'm looking at my tasting notes for my future review and they don't match up at all with what you have.

Nose: Cherries, wood, barrel strength alcohol. Light orange candies, sour, and black pepper. Taste: A forest of oak and maple. Young leather, like a freshly cleaned saddle. Heat that threads the needle between burning and my preference for spices, Jalapeno perhaps. Finish: Lacks the sweet syrup mouthfeel I normally associate with booker's. A bit of a let down. I keep searching for sweet corn, but find none, just more wood and black pepper. Balance: The flavors all work together, but this isn't my kind of bourbon. It isn't even my kind of booker's.

That is what I have so far from my first poor of the bottle. I usually make it through 1/4 to 1/2 a bottle before I write a review. Maybe the wood will fade and some of the other flavors you've mentioned will come out.

@talexander

Booker's is part of the Jim Beam Small Batch collection (whose stablemates include Baker's, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's). It was introduced in 1992 by Booker Noe, grandson of Jim Beam. Each bottling is between 6 and 8 years, is cask-strength and unfiltered, and tends to be between 121 and 127 proof. This bottling - Batch No. C05-A-12, at 7 years and 5 months, is slightly higher than usual at 128.5 proof.

The colour is a deep reddish amber. Charcoal is a very dominant note on the nose, with ripe cherries, mint, creme brûlée, woodsmoke and musty leather. Dark spicy chocolate. Cumin and coriander. There is a vast amount of BBQ smoke coming off of this. Big, rich and fruity. Water adds a bit of maple walnut, somehow. Great depth and complexity.

On the palate - not for the fainthearted at this ABV! Mouth drying tannins, bitter oak, burnt caramel and a large array of herbs. Cherries, blackberries and raspberries. Water smooths things out and adds a nuttiness. More dark chocolate and wet smoke.

The finish is long, dry and chalky with polished oak, coffee beans and black cherry. Booker's has always been one of my favourite bourbons - so bold, big and rich, but yet also traditional and old-fashioned. The style of the labelling, printed in Booker Noe's handwriting, gives it an old-West style feel, which is reflected in the spirt. Absolutely beautifully done.

I can't imagine it getting better. This particular batch of Booker's True Barrel Bourbon C05-A-12, 7 years and 5 months 128.5 proof is absolutely stunning. To see the 25th Anniversary release score higher than this batch gives me hope that I have not yet tasted the best Booker's.

Another wonderful review @talexander. Your reviews in small batch form add an element of complexity to tasting notes; always a delight to read.

Thank you sir!

@Robert99

This is a review of batch # C04-J-19. This bottle is 40% full and has been opened for a year. Last year it was like everybody is saying. Well... You know... An incredibly bold bourbon with a load of rye spices and red fruits surfing on a big alcohol wave. Of course there was also some nutty notes and caramel but as good as it was, it was not even close to be at complex at it is right now.

The nose is now a bit tame. The alcohol is not as present as it was neither are the rye spices. But don't get me wrong, it still is big and bold, but with more depth to it. To his old nose you add cinnamon both the sugary and the hot types, nutmeg, mint, rose water and lavender. Unbelievable!

Let me tell you the palate is not tame at all. The greeting... The SLAPPING is in your face... and the burning in your throat. The rye spices are back in front with the nuts and then the floral notes and the sugary cinnamon are coming back to give you a long and beautifull finish.

I choose to do a review because I didn't expect such a big ABV bourbon like Booker to change that much with oxygen in a year. And I surely didn't expect to find this mixed of rose water, lavender and sugary cinnamon with nutmeg that I am so found of. It was already a 90 bourbon, but I Have to give it 4 more points for this new depth and finish. So as good as it is from a freshly uncorked bottle, I encourage all of you to take your time and have a go at a year opened bottle. I know. I know. It's gona be tough to wait for it... but try or.... have a friend doing it for you.

@Nozinan This bottle was stable up to 3 weeks ago and then changed suddenly in such a nice way. The surprise was total! But as much as the nose and the finish had changed, the palate was almost the same with a little plus.

@Victor Thank you for the nice word. Indeed I find myself lucky to have a few bottles that are improving with time. I usually like the effect of air on my whiskies. That is another topic on which I can learn a lot from you, the expert on residence, as another Connosr member called you. In a few days, I will write another review on an long time open bottle of mine: The Bernheim Original. I hope it will be informative for a few members.

@Robert99. Nice review, great bourbon, it always seem to improve with air and time. I never use gas on my open whiskey and maybe I should. When I store them away I do tape the cork. I have a bookers that's been open for over 3 years, it's amazingly good. Save some the bottle as long as you can and get another one in six months to a year.

Try Knob Creek Single Barrel, he's Bookers little brother.

@GBrough

I got this on my 22nd birthday, what a surprise so much blistering oak and red wine tannic's i had to sit back and enjoy it for a while. After some thought it will be a 2 part review with and without water.

With Water- Nose: Red wine notes, a lot of oak on the nose (less than without water), vanilla, caramel, spice, butterscotch. Palate: Immediate hit of oak, vanilla, caramel, with red wine, tannic notes, cocoa, butterscotch and spice. Finish: Oak bomb at the end, with vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, and red wine notes weaving throughout.

Without water- Nose: Overpowering oak, red wine, spice. Palate: Oak bomb, red wine, vanilla, spice and cocoa. Finish: Very oaky with blistering spice and tannic notes to balance out the oak.

Fantastic, a must for any whisky lover.

What batch was this? It's usually on the upper label. I very much enjoyed my batch (still have some) and posted a review.

I tried the 10 year old 25th anniversary edition last week and found it very nice but not appreciably different than the standard bottling (at least not worth the price)

The batch number is 2013-7.

@hunggar

This is my first bourbon review, so be gentle. I'm not a bourbon guy. I've tried various expressions at various times throughout my life, and I never fell in love with it. My reactions to bourbon are rarely negative, but they haven't been particularly passionate either. I'm more into single malts and good blends and blah blah blah you've heard all this before.

BUT... I'd love to get into it. All I need is to find that special bourbon that will enchant me and perhaps ease me into the wonderful world of bourbon. Could this be the one?

Nose: Being a malt lover I notice the rye first. Oak, cherry, molasses, nute, Lyle's Golden Syrup, some gentle spices, orange rind, and tobacco. What a thick and busy nose. Absolutely lovely.

Palate: Intense. Molasses, licorice, cherries, cajun BBQ sauce, birch wood, spices, and roasted vanilla. Very warming and rich.

Finish: Quite long. Very smooth and balanced. Oak and molasses again, with maraschino cherries and some lovely tobacco notes.

This is by far the best bourbon I've had. Granted, I haven't had many. But I think this may just be the one which converts me into a believer. I'm absolutely loving this expression. I think I may pour myself a second dram...

@hunggar, there are a lot of other excellent bourbons out there. Sounds like your preferences go for the big flavours. The best big flavour ones are hard to get and may be quite expensive. Older (8 to 23 years old) Willett Private Single Barrels, Four Roses Barrel Strength Limited Editions, William Larue Weller (wheated), George T. Stagg, Eagle Rare 17 (that one is only at 45% ABV though) are good choices. More from Beam small batch: Baker's and Knob Creek Single Barrel are quite nice. Basil Hayden's is nice but quite a few people find it a bit thin at 40% abv. Hancock's Reserve is a very nice one too, as are all of the Col E H Taylor bourbons. Among the wheated bourbons the Parkers Heritage 10 yo is fantastic, and most editions of it are at barrel strength.

Cheers!

I agree completely. It's got everything I've been looking for in a bourbon. Some of the lesser expressions I've tried haven't come near the richness or complexity of this one. I wish/hope there's a lot more great bourbons out there with this bold, rich, intensity. In all honesty, I do find some members of the bourbon family to be somewhat flat or lacking in dimension/complexity when compared with single malts. Perhaps that was a snap judgement, though. I think it's time to revisit the world of bourbon with a fresh pair of eyes (I know that doesn't really make sense, but a fresh set of taste buds doesn't have quite the same ring to it!). Cheers!

R

This stuff changes with time, as to be expected. The changes are dramatic, and worth the wait.

Give this stuff at least 15 minutes in the glass before you put your big ugly lips on it and start sucking in up like the toad you are. . . only joking.

The nose will impress you with its delicacy. The wood hits first and then dark chocolate, tangerine, star fruit, and vanilla bean ice cream.

Palette: White truffle, white pepper, rye bread with butter, more star fruit, lemon, seared rib eye steak fat, charred driftwood that was wet with some sea water upon burning in the bonfire.

Finish: Macadamia nuts, white oak, Chinese pepper, toffee, pecans.

This, my friends, is among the best bourbons that I've tasted in the past few years. I went to a bar that offered a 3/4 ounce tasting shot, which I took advantage of, and then I ordered a full 2 ounce shot. Zut alors, that sour mash masterpiece was good! Not sure of the batch number.

@ewhiskey

Nose: Dry, vanilla, honey, sweet apple and rich smoke

Palate: Strong cedar and oak, a plank of wood to gnaw on. Cloves and cardamon in the saw dust. The rich smoke is always present, just waiting for the wood to pass.

Body: Steady and mouth coating.

Finish: Very long with fresh oak.

Booker's is just quintessential bourbon, uncut, unfiltered. The full raw goodness. Of course what also makes this the choice of the master distiller is that Booker's is from barrels cherry-picked for quality.

This is indeed one of the best Beams to date.

B

Booker's small batch bourbon is the top-of-the-line product of the Jim Beam distillery. It is an uncut, unfiltered, bottled-straight-from-the-barrel bourbon that comes in at a whopping 130 proof. But despite that, it manages to be exceedingly well-balanced, nuanced, and seriously tasty.

Appearance: Deep reddish-amber, mahogany tones.

Nose: initially somewhat closed. Time in the glass opens it up somewhat but a splash of water is really needed to crack it open. Once this is done it reveals notes of dry wood, vanilla, molasses, toasted peanuts, orange peel, and rye spice, with mild cocoa and even a hint of sea salt. No one note dominates, everything harmoniously works together.

Palate: very rich, full-bodied, and viscous. Flavors of spice, mainly pepper and cinnamon but with some tones of nutmeg and allspice, hit first, followed by toasted oak, vanilla, orange, dark caramel, cooked apple, and a deep sweet-bitter burned sugar note in the background. Very appealing, very drinkable. With water added the alcohol bite is still obviously present but it doesn't interfere with the sip and instead adds a strong warmth that mirrors the spice flavors.

Finish: medium-long, and again very well balanced. Peppery tingle, toasted nuts, oak, lingering maple sweetness. There is a faint touch of sea salt that develops near the end.

Overall impressions: A superb whiskey. Seriously balanced, complex, and rich. Very drinkable despite its whopping proof with only a small amount of water to open up the flavors. Extremely good.

@Wills: yeah it's something I've never noticed before either. Was certainly interesting to find. There's actually another review of Booker's on here by @dbk that describes it really well: between the caramel, nutty flavors, and salt touches, it's like drinking a candy bar.

This sounds indeed extremely good. Also fascinating that you detect some seasalt, never heard this for a Bourbon. Would love to try this one.

@SquidgyAsh

My wife, brother and sister in law and myself recently got back from a trip to our local whisky bar, Helvetica, where we got to try quite a few new whiskies.

The Hakushu 18 yr old (meh at best), the Springbank Madeira Wood Finish (brilliant), and the Springbank Claret Wood Finish (also brilliant)

At this point we felt that it was time to head in a different direction and try some American whiskies.

Specifically Booker's Small Batch Bourbon, Thomas H Handy's Sazerac Rye Whisky and William L. Weller's Wheated Bourbon.

All whiskies that we'd never tried before.

All whiskies that are supposed to be cracking drams!

We started with the Booker's Small Batch Bourbon just because we could.

I'd heard good things about this cask strength bourbon from Jim Beam, but I'd never got a chance to try it before.

Mainly because it was the cheapest of the upcoming whiskies.

That and the Antique Collection from Buffalo Trace is considered one of the high end sets of American whiskies and I wanted to save the best for last.

My wife at this point has removed herself from the tasting festivities so it was going to be me and my brother and sister in law.

Now I'm not really a huge Jim Beam fan, finding most of their whiskies being really good mixers, but not very good sipping whiskies so I wasn't sure what I was walking into.

Nose on this bad boy is intense with lots of spice, caramel, tobacco, vanilla, and oak.

Quite intense and not half bad!

Time for a taste.

A lot of wax and grass notes are the first thing that hits my palate, then some cinnamon, caramel, oak, vanilla and a hint of cherries, but it is all dominated by a waxy grass flavor.

Finish is quite long with cinnamon, vanilla, oak and wax grass following through.

Not a bad bourbon, but not that greatest I've ever had, however it's a cask strength and small batch so you'll get different flavors from different bottles even better is the price point for a cask strength whisky.

Roughly $90 AUS which is bloody cheap for a cask strength whisky.

In fact I do believe my next bottle of exploration bourbon might be another one of these bad boys because at that price point, it's stupidly cheap. And I might get a better bottle!

J

To be specific on the batch this bottle came from the batch No is: C04-A-28.

Nose: buttered corn, pastry, mild cigar tobacco, hard candy's and some sweet nuttiness, has a very 'thick' quality about it, high alcohol content provides a nice spirity kick to it as well, strong vanilla's and candy caramel.

Palate: creamy and hot, vinilla, sweet buttered corn, bacon fat, buttered puff pastry, some cocoa and nuts, butterscotch notes, a touch of sour green apple skins.

Finish: fades on buttered puff pastry and rich corn, a touch of maple syrup, peppery, nuts and a cocoa feel.

Hope this review wasn't to bad, while I love my bourbon I've never taken notes on it before. At least not in the same way as I do with scotch. As far as this bourbon goes it is lovely stuff, right up there with my favorite bourbons that I will have to get around to righting review's for as well.

@Dellnola

Nose: Raw and bold. Charred oak coated with sugar, vanilla, egg nog, pralines, vinegar, a bit of pepper. Really inviting.

Taste: BOOM salted caramel! Nuts and sweet milk chocolate. As dbk put it, it's like a candy bar. Also present are bananas, but it's more than just bananas. It's more like bananas foster. All this rests on a solid foundation of sweet oak.

Finish: Intense vanilla, burnt sugar cookies, apple pie, with the bananas returning at the end.

Wow, this is a great whisky. It's basically a textbook bourbon of extremely high quality (says the guy who hasn't tasted that many bourbons). Uncut and unfiltered, this is raw and intense. It's not very complex, but it does what it does extremely well. Personally, I don't like to add water to this because I feel that it messes with the delivery, but that's just me. At full strength, the whisky cascades over the tongue with that wonderfully rich and thick salted caramel flavor.

At $50 a bottle, I'm going get another one.

I'm with you - I don't like to add water to this one. I think the beauty of Booker's is its spice and dark flavor and unfiltered appearance (strictly aesthetic, but awesome, nonetheless) :). Nice review!

One more thought: Perhaps 93/100 is a high score for a relatively simple whisky, but whatever, I really really enjoyed it, and my enjoyment plays a huge role in my score.

@wil
@GT2

Waxed bottle. Served neat.

Appearance: Very deep reddish amber, one of the darker whiskies I've seen. Thin, delicate tears fall in 360 degree circumference on the glass.

Nose: Spicy, candied orange peel along with dried rubbed spicy barbecue meat. Still, some major league alcohol sting in the nose like Maker's Mark but this can be quickly ignored in favor of toasted wood, butterscotch, brandy, brown sugar, sea salted true caramel.

Taste: Better than the nose, very little to no alcohol sting despite the whopping abv. Spicy orange, chili pepper, cinnamon spice, and something warm/spicy/fruity like apple pie.

Palate: Heavy, viscous, extremely easy to enjoy. No biting tannins, not overly oaked, still maintaining fruitiness and thick dessert like characters.

@dbk

Jim Beam White Label is the best-selling bourbon in the United States (after recalling the fact that Jack Daniels doesn’t technically qualify as a bourbon), but the Jim Beam mash bill is used for several other brands of whiskey. In particular, Old Taylor, Old Crow, and three of Beam’s “Small Batch” series—Baker’s, Booker’s, and Knob Creek—are also based on this tried and true recipe.

Over the last few months, I have tasted Baker’s, Booker’s, and Knob Creek Single Barrel alone and against one another in order to discover their commonalities and their distinctions. The differences among them are subtle, perhaps more so than I would like; still, each is quite good. I reviewed Baker’s some time ago (connosr.com/reviews/bakers/…), and here I review Booker’s Bourbon.

The nose is full of chocolate, caramel, salt, walnuts, brown sugar, and butter, with touches of cinnamon hearts, popcorn, banana, and yeast. It is simply delectable.

The palate is rich and nutty, again with caramel, milk chocolate, and menthol.

Whereas the emphasis of the nose on Baker’s is its nuttiness and Knob Creek Single Barrel is its dry, dark chocolate character, Booker’s shows a sweeter, more playful array of notes, incorporating chocolate, caramel, and salt with roasted nuts. It’s one hell of a candy bar.

You were spot on with the 'candy bar' concept. I felt like I was drinking an Oh Henry! bar (getting mainly a salted peanut/nougat/caramel combination, with the chocolate playing a more underlying role than I'm used to with other bourbons). At 63.7% abv, it is a little hot at mid-palate, but I found a nice buttery note when the bourbon first enters the mouth on the sip, before the heat hits.

I will definitely be re-visiting this one again soon to see what other notes I can find. Awesome review and awesome bottle (I love the 'handwritten' style labelling and the straight from barrel bottling that leaves very small bits of barrel char in the bottle...it really boosts the 'old-time' feel of the bottle!)

You're dead on with the nuts, chocolate, and caramel. It really is like a candy bar. I just opened my bottle and I think it's just fantastic.

@Victor

Frederick Booker Noe II, 1929-2004, known simply as Booker, was Jim Beam's grandson and master distiller at Jim Beam for more than 40 years. During his lifetime, he was widely regarded within the trade as the single most knowledgable authority on bourbon whiskey production. In 1987 Booker Noe introduced Booker's, the first Beam small batch bourbon product, as a private offering. In 1992 Booker's was offered to the public for the first time. Booker's is unfiltered and undiluted whiskey straight from the barrel, just the way Booker himself preferred his whiskey. During his lifetime Booker himself is said to have selected all of the barrels for his whiskey himself. Booker's bourbon is aged between 6 and 8 years, and shares the standard Beam medium rye mashbill with the Jim Beam line of bourbons and Baker's small batch bourbon. Alcohol content for Booker's Small Batch runs between 121 and 130 proof. The review sample is from batch # C00-A-20, aged 6 yrs 4 mos, and is 124 proof

Nose: moderate intensity, sweet, oaky, a lot of spice, and some vanilla and caramel

Taste: Firewater! Giant flavour and giant alcohol greeting. The spice is huge, as are the various flavours of oak

Finish: long intense finish, with spice, oak, vanilla and caramel remaining together

Balance: This is whiskey that makes a very big impression. Those who like really big flavours and don't mind a big alcohol greeting will be favourably impressed. Those who are alcohol sensitive may have trouble with this one. Like it or hate it this is a whiskey which will rarely leave anyone indifferent. I like this a lot, but it is not for everybody. Jim Murray rated a different batch 93/100 in his 2011 Whisky Bible, and commented: "... a combative bourbon with all of its personality at full volume. Striking stuff."

Just finished my first dram. My bottle aged 7yr 5mos 128.5 proof. The initial mouthfeel and taste does not announce 64.25% alc, it's smooth and sweet, oak, vanilla, caramel, cinnamon. On the way to the back of the mouth and down the hatch is an explosion of spice and intense flavors. My first taste is always neat, can't wait to know what this is like with a 2in diameter ball of ice. I'll let ya know, maybe tomorrow.

I am currently drinking Batch #Co-A-18 65.05%, 7yrs.2mths. It is very similar to how you have described your expression. I suspect this 7yo. version may be a little more civilized (?): In fact, I am amazed that such a powerful Whiskey can be free of any harsh alcohol character at all!

Taken neat this is still well-mannered though seems, to me, best at 1 part pure rain to 4 parts Whiskey.

A beautifully balanced Bourbon Whiskey.

@willhaas

Booker's, from the Beam family of distillers, is quite possibly the finest whiskey I have ever tasted--large or small batch.

The taste is so finely honed, so clean and so smooth that you won't realize the 125 proof until you try to walk away from a shot.

This whiskey is raw, yet mellow. Potent, yet smooth and it has one of the cleanest finishes you could ask for.

Strong aromas of oak and charcoal compliment the fruity tobacco and vanilla flavors. To be honest, I'm having trouble describing such an amazing elixir through words---just go by a bottle.

I found it difficult to build a steady taste up in my mouth because the alcohol got in the way so much. My tongue went numb. This is one of the only bourbons I've had to add water to. A few drops go a long way in helping to crack it open, and when you do, it's clear why this bourbon is so well-regarded.

At 63% that's gonna have some kick!

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