Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2016-06 “Noe Hard Times”




Class:  Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Reviewers:  Andrew Owen, Bobby Long

Created by the late great Master Distiller at Jim Beam, Booker Noe, Booker's bourbon is a quarterly release small batch bourbon that is uncut and unfiltered.  In other words, besides vatting the barrels selected for the batch, nothing is done from barrel to bottle.  No filtration, no cutting the proof with water.  If you want to know more about the history of Booker's, Beam has a website dedicated entirely to the brand.  Its a very useful site that also contains in depth information on each batch of Booker's as well.

Booker's batch numbers are easy to read.  2016-06 means it was the 6th release of 2016 (the new quarterly release started in 2017).  In a fairly recent development, Booker's releases are also given a name/catch phrase which generally have absolutely nothing to do with the actual whiskey, but are nonetheless helpful identifiers for batches (Stagg Jr and Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, please take notes at how to not drive your consumers insane trying to figure out which batch they have).  Batch 2016-06 is dubbed "Noe Hard Times".


  • Age staged 6 years, 10 months and 1 day (that means this is the age of the youngest barrel in the batch)
  • Bottled at barrel proof 63.9% ABV (127.8 proof)
  • Unfiltered
  • Mash bill of 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley.

Andrew's Review

Nose:  Orange, heavy caramel, leather, dry oak, and nutmeg with moderate heat intertwined.  There’s alittle of everything here – fruit, sweets, wood, and spice.  Great balance with the sweets leading the way.

Palate:  Peanut brittle, sticky toffee, and a wave of heat that dissipates mid palate revealing additional notes of cocoa powder, orange oil, oak tannins, root beer, and nutmeg.  Smooth, thick body.  Again shows excellent balance and interesting notes not always commonly found together.

Finish:  Toffee bread pudding, cinnamon, nutmeg, root beer, and a hint of evergreen.  Stays on the sweet side and never gets bitter.  Long.

Score:  85/100

Buying Recommendation:  Must Try! I really like this bourbon.  There is alittle bit of everything in it, but the folks at beam have blended together masterfully to keep it from being a confused mess.  Nothing here is extraordinary, but its complex, bold, and very tasty. If you're a bourbon fan, do what you must to get at least a pour of this, if not a whole bottle.  If you love barrel proof bourbons, buy the bottle if you see it.

*Here at WBSE, we sometimes drink the same whiskey (Surprise!) and we find that most often, two or three opinions are better than one (unless one of them is Greg's).  We like to see how our own tasting notes compare with each other, and you will get multiple opinions on overall score!  Everybody wins!*

Bobby's Review

Nose: Full and rich cream, mild oak, and light citrus, a touch of sweet corn with a hint of ethanol that dissipates quickly.  With the ethanol dissipitated, some peppery rye spices and a little sweet brown sugar and fresh shelled nuts come in.

Palate: Creamy sweets and rye spices coat your tongue, with the spices more at the end of the sip than right up front. There are some hints of toasted nuts and oak, with citrus and vanilla also hanging out in the background,  before you get a little light tobacco and soft leather on the tail end.

 Finish: Deep and thick with pleasant creamy rye spices. The oak and vanilla wrap this up with caramel and a little burn that reminds you it's 128 proof. It's long and complex transforming from cream to sweet corn notes before fading to that peppery rye spice that blends so excellently with the sweet corn.

Score:  90/100

Buying Recommendation:  Buy it now!  This is my favorite batch of Booker's to date. The flavors are complex, deep, bold, and delicate. It almost doesn't make sense how those things can go together until you taste it. The proof carries flavor, the flavor carries intriguing notes and nothing about the drink is off putting. Booker's really nailed it with the spices on this one and it's smoother than many other batches I've had that can be on the fringe of rough and harsh if you're not someone that drinks alot of barrel proof bourbons. This is friendly and flavor forward...well done guys!


The Rating Scale

At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92).  This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys.  Here is how the scale breaks down:

1-49:  Varying degrees of bad

55:  Average

60-69:  Better than average

70-79:  solid/good

80-89:  excellent

90+:  truly exceptional

All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.


All Time Favorite Whisky: Balblair 1990 2nd Edition

Daily Drinkers: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Springbank 10 Year

A former craft beer enthusiast, Andrew fell in love with whiskey after tasting a pour of Laphroaig 10 year and being amazed that such a flavor could exist within a liquid. With a college background in biochemistry and a passion for history, Andrew quickly grew to love the science of whiskey making, the history of different distilleries, and the exploration of flavors within a dram. To Andrew, whiskey is more than just a drink; it is a fascinating mix of art and science – an intricate beauty to be pondered and appreciated. Besides this, Andrew has found that a nice bottle of whiskey has an amazing ability to bring people together and unite people from all different backgrounds together as friends.

While Andrew can be found drinking any style of whiskey from any region around the world, he has a particular affinity for spice-laden bourbons and coastal scotches. Besides drinking whiskey, Andrew also enjoys weight lifting, road biking, and cooking.
Bourbon Specialist

All Time Favorite Whiskey: Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel 9 Year

Daily Drinkers: Booker’s Bourbon, Old Ezra 7 Year

Bobby is a self-proclaimed high proof enthusiast. Bobby has always been drawn to high proofs; in college, it was a fairly common sight to see him drinking Everclear straight from the bottle on Saturday evenings at Theta Chi’s Zeta Lambda chapter. Bobby naturally transitioned to drinking more whiskey, and started seeking out more complex whiskeys in his mid 20’s. His whiskey obsession really picked up after he tasted Booker’s and Jefferson’s Reserve. Bobby is a huge fan of bourbon and more recently rye whiskeys, with much to learn yet about scotch. The sweet heat of bourbon and rye is Bobby’s biggest draw.

With a bachelors degree from Westminster College in political science and minor in history, he has worked with spectrum disorder kids and adults for 10 years. When not working with kids or having a glass with friends Bobby is probably fishing, playing video games, shooting targets, playing basketball or spending time with his fiancé. Bobby is easily identified as the short, opinionated guy that is on a mission to find the richest most complex whiskeys the world has to offer.

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