The second special Booker’s release for 2019 has arrived, “Shiny Barrel Batch,” designated by bottle code 2019-02. Per the distillery, “This newest expression is an ode to a bygone distillery “tradition” where back in the day, there were the barrels certain rackhouse workers liked to sneak a taste from, and in doing so, they rubbed off the exterior dust and shined them up. Master Distiller Booker Noe took this as a sign that these barrels contained the real good stuff – and he took inspiration from them when setting the standards for his namesake Booker’s Bourbon.”
As always, this is cask strength whiskey. The formal age on this release is 6 years, 5 months, and 1 day. Let’s give it a try.
On the nose and uncut, the whiskey presents an immediate note of mint alongside a hearty dose of vanilla and some chocolate. Baking spice smolders underneath, along with a healthy dose of barrel char. At full strength the palate is tough, fiery with alcohol and a ton of cayenne. Drinking at full proof does a disservice to this whiskey — a common issue with the Booker’s releases — so be generous with the water. Bringing it down to 80 proof or so really helps the caramel notes to emerge more clearly, but the sweetness is tempered by notes of cherries, lemon peel, cinnamon, and a hint of that mint that was present on the nose. At the same time, a beefy aroma also emerges, making this bourbon bounce interestingly between sweet and savory.
Altogether, it’s yet another moderate spin on the winning Booker’s formula — and it’s one which makes, without question, another solid bottle to add to your collection.
A- / $80 / bookersbourbon.com