Booker’s bourbon has been a phenomenon for years, despite the fact that its namesake and creator, Booker Noe, died in 2004. Fred Noe, Booker’s son, has been running the show ever since, and the Noe dynasty continues to grow, with Fred’s son Freddie, releasing his first-ever product under the Jim Beam banner.
That whiskey is here: Little Book, which is designed to be an annual release available in limited quantities. For the inaugural 2017 release, the whiskey is dubbed “The Easy.”
What’s in “The Easy”? For starters, it’s not bourbon. It is “a blended straight whiskey comprised of a precise blend of uncut and unfiltered corn (13 years old), rye, and malt whiskies (both about 6 years old), each representative of the three grains commonly found in a bourbon mashbill, and balanced with uncut and unfiltered four-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.” A unique blend, it is, in a way, backing into the components of a bourbon after the fact, blending together finished whiskeys made with a single grain, rather than mashing them together and distilling them all at once.
Unique it is: Little Book is distinctly different in style than bourbon, though it adheres most closely to it by way of comparison. At full strength, the nose is relatively corny, with a more generalized cereal underpinning. Secondary notes include ripe banana, almond, and an earthy, meaty, almost bacony character that gives it a surprising amount of umami-esque aromatic depth.
The palate isn’t too tough at bottle strength, despite weighing in at over 60% abv, with lots of corn whiskey-driven popcorn notes leading the charge. There’s a significant nuttiness on the palate as it evolves, and a rye-driven spice with lots of ginger, cloves, and red pepper that kicks in on what ends up being a rather racy finish.
This is certainly an interesting whiskey, one that walks through a number of stages on a circuitous route to its conclusion — and what a curious journey it is! Whatever the verdict on Little Book Vol. 1, it’s definitely a whiskey to watch as it (and Freddie) evolve over the years to come.
B+ / $80 / jimbeam.com