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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.