Huge, bold, balanced flavor keeps you savoring each sip.
I could knock it for its overall lack of serious complexity, but there is charm in its balanced simplicity.
I’ll save you the introduction, as this is now the fourth batch of Booker’s we’ve reviewed here. My reasons for reviewing multiple batches are simple: not every batch tastes the same – some are much better than others – and it’s not uncommon for you to be picking between two different batches at the same store. At this point, I don’t doubt that any Booker’s batch will be good. But some will be GREAT and some won’t. And $65 is a big chunk of most people’s whiskey budget, so let’s make sure to make it count! Remember, four batches are released each year. They are composed of hand-picked “honey barrels” from Jim Beam’s many rickhouses, with the youngest barrels usually hovering around 6 years of age. Once vatted together, the bourbon is then bottled without any filtration or dilution. Here are the batches we’ve reviewed this far:
Batch 2017-04, dubbed “Sip Awhile”, can still be found in many places, mingled in with the remaining bottles of 2018-01 and 2018-02. As of today, 2018-03 has been officially released, but I have yet to see any actually appear on store shelves around me. So is “Sip Awhile” worth nabbing over the newer batches before it’s gone forever? Let’s find out!
- Distilled, aged, and bottled by Beam-Suntory at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, KY
- Mash bill of 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley
- Age stated at 6 years, 8 months, 14 days
- Bottled unfiltered at barrel proof 64.05% ABV (128.1 proof)
Nose: Bourbon-y caramel and vanilla lead the charge with strong fresh oak and a tame clove note. There is a light nuttiness like peanuts that combines well with the rich buttery vanilla notes that are already present.
Palate: Very bold with a thick full body of rich cut oak and creamy caramel. The barrel spices and char come to life after the initial sweetness, and play well with vanilla and light butterscotch, before the nutty Beam profile finally shows up in a delicate yet refined roasted peanut note verging on honey nut.
Finish: Big and sweet as this bourbon reminds you it is uncut and unfiltered. The finish is very long with caramel leading the way with a bit of vanilla and rich fresh tobacco notes mixing together in an excellent balance of sweetness and spice. There is some earthy leather and a very faint sweet corn note that lasts a good long while.
Buying Recommendation: Must Try! This is one of the best Booker’s I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. This sits firmly in my top 3 batches. The incredible balance of sweetness and heat here make for a delectable dram that keeps you wanting more. Aptly named “sip awhile”, you find yourself savoring each sip, lost in the lingering caramel and vanilla notes. While not extremely deep, this whiskey plays to the simpler things in life and remains well balanced without a load of different notes. The leather and tobacco along with high proof spice up this otherwise very sweet whiskey with just the right amount of heat. This was an excellent batch for the winter season and one that was a real blast of warming flavors leading you down a path of simple satisfaction. If you’re new to barrel proof or have been let down by Booker’s in the past give this a try at the bar and let us know what you think!
Each time I write about Booker’s, I feel compelled to mention this: Booker’s isn’t cheap, but it’s accessible and consistently good. You can be bitter that the days of finding dusty Booker’s for $45 are long gone, but such is the state of affairs where we sit in the middle of the current bourbon boom. The fact is, Booker’s sits firmly in line with barrel proof bourbon prices, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than many newer releases with much shorter resumes and much less consistency.