Says Beam’s Fred Noe: “The first batch of Bookers [sic] for 2016 is made up of barrels that were stored in 7 different rack houses. 61% of the barrels were stored in 9 story houses, 34% were stored in 7 story houses, and remaining 5% were stored in a 5 story rack house. The ages of the barrels in the batch range from 6 years 11 months old to 7 years 11 months old. The deep amber color reflects the complex aroma and flavor of the batch to be bottled. The nose is pleasant with the vanilla and toasted nuts that is inviting and makes you eager to sip this great bourbon. The flavor of this batch is smooth and well balanced with a finish that I enjoyed neat without adding any water.”
That’s a bold statement about a bourbon that’s almost 65% alcohol, but the nose indeed feels mild — offering notes of barrel char, citrus, some menthol, and significant vanilla — though it’s all kept in check with only modest levels of alcohol impacting it.
The body’s another story, a massive blazer as expected, given that proof. Without water, scorching alcohol notes are the most prominent character, with caramel, orange, and cocoa powder heavy influences. Water is a big help here, coaxing out some smoky notes — nothing you can’t handle, though — that are backed up well with sweet marzipan, clove-heavy baking spice, and cocoa powder, with a gentle, easy finish.
Supple and deep, this is an expression of Booker’s that exemplifies this whiskey’s extreme power while peeling back the covers to show off what lies beneath the surface.
A- / $60 / bookersbourbon.com