Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-01 Review

Class:  Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Price:  $60 - 70 U.S. Retail

The first 2018 batch of Booker's, dubbed "Kathleen's Batch", follows 2017's inaugural batch as a roundtable selection.  This just means that, alongside Master Distiller Fred Noe, a few industry experts were brought in to help select the barrels that would be batched together for this release.  The batch is named after Kathleen DiBenedetto, who, according to the Booker's Website, "played an essential role in launching the small batch bourbon selection with Booker Noe in the early 90's."  Ah, sweet nostalgia.

Booker's is a quarterly released uncut and unfiltered small batch bourbon from the Jim Beam Distillery (Beam-Suntory).  You can read a bit more about its history in our previous review of Booker's batch 2016-06.  While the Booker's label is detailed with the ABV and age of the youngest whiskey in the batch, the website is also loaded with information on the warehouse and floor of each individual component of the batch.  I'll save space here, but if you click the link to the Booker's website above, it will take you directly to it.

Notes:

  • Age stated at 6 years, 3 months, 14 days
  • Non-chill filtered
  • Standard Beam bourbon mash of 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
  • Bottled undiluted at 63.7% ABV (127.4 proof)

Nose:  A big initial blast of fruit - cherries and forest berries - mingled with sweet oak, vanilla, an earthy nuttiness, and leather.  Further in, there is a Springtime floral note, cocoa, and honey.

Palate:  Buttery and rich.  Leather and floral sweetness great the tongue upon entry before opening up into chewy, oaky, vanilla sweetness, barrel spice, bits of char, and hints of anise adding a dark bite to this sweet dram.  Nuts, light caramel, and tart cherry round out the flavors on the palate.

Finish:  Bold and oaky with a good, full chest warming hug.  Filled with vanilla and caramel.  Almost all of the fruit dissipates quickly, but a nice spicy complex lingers - tobacco, char, woodspice, leather, and candied peanuts.

Score:  87/100

Buying Recommendation:  Buy it now!  I know that across the U.S. Booker's prices are currently fluctuating wildly.  Some areas are charging over $100, while some people are still finding bottles with dust on them for $40.  If you are a fan of barrel proof bourbon and find this under $75, it's quite a treat.

Overall this is another stellar offering in the Booker's series from Jim Beam.  The fruit notes found in this bourbon are not found in many other Booker's batches, but they’ve done it here and it’s created a very complex and fun to drink whiskey. This is more complex than the typical Booker's, and the assortment of flavors can come off a bit confusing.  For me this one is a bit hot and could follow a more uniform profile from nose to finish.  So many of Beam's recent Booker's batches have been excellent, but this batch deserves its due as a truly unique Booker’s offering.

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.

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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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