Booker's Batch 2015-01 "Big Man, Small Batch" Review
Booker's was the first barrel proof, uncut, and unfiltered bourbon when introduced in 1992 (or 1987/1988 depending on who you ask). Beam introduced their small batch bourbon collection in 1992 which includes Bookers, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden's and Baker's. What sets Booker's apart from the rest of the collection is proof, barrel location and the batch selection process. Bookers starts out with the 75/15/10 low rye mashbill and is double distilled using a column still and pot still to an entry proof lower than 125. The reasoning behind the low entry proof is so that no water needs to be added to the distillate prior to barreling. Typically aged anywhere between 6 and 8 years in the center 5th and 6th floors of rick houses (sweet spot).
Each batch is selected by Fred Noe, grandson of Booker Noe for which the bourbon is named. Lore has it Booker Noe would fill jugs from his favorite barrels to take home and enjoy. Due to differences in age and proof each batch will taste different. Up until 2015 each batch had a unique, and slightly cryptic batch number. Starting in 2015 each batch has a simplified batch number (Year - Batch) and unique name. For a comparison of this years batches check out the Bookers website.
***I want to take a moment to clarify that the term small batch has no legal definition in the bourbon world and therefore can be regarded as marketing. Theoretically the smallest batch could be a single barrel (looking at you Wild Turkey Russel's Reserve Single Barrel Small Batch) while the largest could be any number of barrels.
Mashbill: 75% Corn/ 15% Rye/ 10% Barley (Best guess as the Jim Beam mashbills are officially secret)
Age: 7 years, 2 months, and 16 days
Batch #: 2015-01, "Big Man, Small Batch"
Pour: 2 oz neat in a Canadian Glencairn
Color: Rich, dark caramel
Nose: Vanilla bean, caramel and red hots lead to honey roasted peanuts and roasted cashews. Ends on Dark chocolate and dark fruit - dried cranberries, black cherries.
Palate: Starts with chunky chewy peanut butter, roasted cashews. Then Cola, caramel chews and milk chocolate.
Finish: Red skin peanuts, cinnamon and root beer. Bitter oak and finally a lingering warmth.
I really, really enjoy all the nutty Beam funk that can be found from start to finish. Between the vanilla, caramel, roasted nuts and chocolate it feels like I am drinking a candy bar but without all the sweetness. However, when compared to other Beam products the nuttiness is definitely running in overdrive. The nose on this bourbon is arguably my favorite part. Each time I would go back to the glass another subtle aroma would sneak out. The high proof does require some resting time before diving in otherwise the nose is overwhelmed.
Beam deserves some serious credit considering Bookers was way ahead of the curve with the current barrel proof/cask strength craze. This bourbon is readily available on the shelves and can be found just about anywhere for $55 - $65. Seriously, I can walk into most stores and grab a bottle off the shelf without any hassle. That is easy to forget these days when everyone is chasing limited releases.
Coupled with the intense beam funk and high proof, Bookers is my favorite beam product.
-Mark @ Entry Proof