Booker’s Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey
Aged 7yrs 6mo
Batch No. 2013-6 (Roundtable Selection, see bottom of post for more details)
Booker’s–BOOKER’S–it’s been on my list for a while, but I’m basically poor and could never muster up the courage (money) to buy it. It’s not THAT expensive, but $60 a bottle makes it something to at least ponder before buying. BUT I did it, and, as always, I’m glad I did.
Named after Booker Noe, long time distiller at Jim Beam, and the grandson of the man himself, Beam, Inc began bottling this for the public in 1992, in honor of Booker’s retirement. Before that, Booker used to find barrels he liked and tap them for gifts to close friends and family only–straight to the bottle, no filtering, no cutting the proof. He is quoted as saying: “This is bourbon the way it used to be, the way it was meant to be.” While I probably don’t like my whiskey quite as uncut as Booker, I appreciate the sentiment. The barrels that age this bourbon are found on the fifth and sixth stories of their warehouses, which supposedly is where Booker felt like they got their best results. I like that they don’t specify the age of this bourbon in the name–Booker (and many other distillers) feel that the whiskey will be ready when it’s ready, and they taste often to determine when that is. All the batches are between 6-8 years though, this one being 7.5 years old.
Elmer T. Lee, long time Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace, said that he preferred to taste his whiskey at around 60 proof, which would require watering even the mildest of bourbons down a good bit, so please don’t feel like you are doing anything wrong if you take a sip of Booker’s and say HOLY SHIT THIS IS TOO STRONG. Cause Elmer T. Lee was a total badass. Anyway, It’s fun to feel that BARREL STRENGTH once or twice, but when it actually comes to drinking and enjoying a big big bourbon like this, you gotta add a few drops of water. I’m guessing I water this one down to around 115 proof, which is still pretty high, but I can’t help feeling I’m missing the point if I go lower than that.
This is a very, very good whiskey. After adding water the nose opens up…vanilla, oak, and what I am happy to report is a mix of Pepsi and Coke scent. They should bottle that as a cologne. I’m not getting much orange peel in mine, but I’ve heard other batches have much more of that. It smells sweeter than it is. Right up front on the tasting I’m getting lots of hot spice, a decent amount of rye (though the rye content in the mash bill is supposedly only 15 percent), cherry, and nice charred oak expected with a bourbon this age. Underneath that is a little sweetness, vanilla and caramel, but the finish is so dry and doesn’t last quite as long as I want it to, but it is a decent length. I think I just want it to last FOREVER.
I would drink this bourbon every night if I could afford to. Great job Jim Beam, props to Booker Noe, and whoever designed the packaging please design my wedding invitations if I ever get married.
Rating: 9.6 / 10
I purchased a bottle at Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens, GA for $56.99, and I imagine that’s the cheapest I’ll ever see this as demand for it keeps rising.
It’s so funny to read back on these reviews and see how my knowledge has grown, my tastes have changed. This review I still feel the same about, this is a special bottle of bourbon. I changed the name of the post to reflect that–this is a special bottling of Booker’s (known as a Roundtable selection) chosen by some industry folk. Boozemenus.com has the scoop:
“This year’s Roundtable consists of top whiskey advocates, including, among others: Chuck K. Cowdery the Blogger and Author of “Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered – Story of American Whiskey”, Geoffrey Kleinman of DrinkSpirits.com, Spirits Writer John McCarthy, Spirits Writer & Judge Jack Robertiello, Tony Sachs from the Huffington Post, and F. Paul Pacult, Editor, Spirit Journal & Author of American Still Life.”
They chose this batch via a teleconference where they all tried samples of various batches. They chose well and wisely! Anyway, when I first wrote this review I had no idea this was a special bottle, but I knew it was maybe the best tasting thing I’d ever tried! I still have more than half of the bottle and will probably be savoring it for quite some time.
I also think it’s hilarious how I thought it was so crazy that I was buying a $60 bottle of booze–since this post I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars on bourbon and rye, many bottles costing over $100, and they are worth every penny! It’s all relative I guess…