For Booker’s Bourbon fans, 2022 was a year of both creativity and consistency, at least for the first three releases. A lineup of “Ronnie’s Batch,” “The Lumberyard Batch,” and “Kentucky Tea” gives plenty of classic Beam notes with a couple curve ball tasting notes thrown in. (Stewed tomatoes, anyone?) And while there was a good bit of variation among those releases, all three ultimately stood on their own as enjoyable (though not quite superlative) barrel-proof sippers.
Let’s see if the year’s fourth and final release — dubbed “Pinkie’s Batch” — punches at that level.
First, how about that name? The backstory for a Booker’s release moniker has become almost as interesting as the whiskey itself, especially when it’s named after someone with Noe family ties. This one is best taken directly from the Beam company release notes:
This batch is named in honor of Booker Noe’s dad, the original Frederick Booker Noe, better known as Pinkie to his family and friends. Although no one is quite sure where Pinkie’s nickname came from, he is remembered as someone who always followed his passions. Most people thought Pinkie was in the bourbon business, which was a good assumption to make about someone in the Noe family, but he actually worked as the vice president of the local bank. That’s not to say he didn’t enjoy drinking bourbon – he actually was a big fan – but being a part of the bourbon business wasn’t his thing.
A non-whiskey making Noe seems like a rare sight indeed.
This 122.4 proof batch was aged 6 years, 10 months, and 10 days, making it the youngest release for 2022. Of those four batches, it’s also the lowest proof. Let’s dive in.
The nose has some hallmark Booker’s notes. It’s spicy and smokey, with hints of cinnamon and crème brulée. There are notes of BBQ smoked wood, though not as far into that territory as, say, “Ronnie’s Batch.” It’s more peppery than truly smoky, with a bit of leather thrown in. There’s a lot of oak on the nose as well, but toward the end, it’s a deeper, darker version of that classic Beam nuttiness. Actually, this noses one step beyond toasted nuts, maybe lightly charred. (That’s not a bad thing, by the way; it’s not so far as to be acrid.) The nose opens up in the glass over time and evolves over the course of sipping in a rather pleasant fashion.
On the tongue, there’s an immediate punch of sweetness and rich vanilla bean, though it’s not as complex out of the gate as some other recent Booker’s batches; there isn’t as pronounced a fruity note as I was hoping for. But what this does, it does well: A classic interplay of caramel, oak, praline, and toasted nuts, with that strong vanilla note throughout. It takes a second to settle in, but there is a bit of fruit — mostly green and red apple — as well as some mint that helps balance the sweetness a bit. Something about this reminds me of a mint julep: sweet and minty.
The mint shines through on the finish here, as the sweetness gives way to a wintergreen sort of cooling. It’s a nice, medium finish that doesn’t drop off too suddenly and leaves the palate a bit refreshed. Though “Pinkie’s Batch” lacks the pure complexity of some other recent Booker’s batches, the finish is probably the best part of this pour. There’s also a buttery note to this whiskey that helps things across the palate and all the way down.
Booker’s threw some welcome curve balls our way in 2022, and while “Pinkie’s Batch” isn’t terribly adventurous, this one is back to classic roots. I wished it had a bit more complexity in places, and I’m still waiting for that rare standout batch to truly elevate the drinking experience, as we know Booker’s Bourbon is occasionally capable of.
Ultimately, 2022’s final batch accomplished what Booker’s so often does: Flavorful, full-bodied bourbon that isn’t all that concerned about pulling a punch.
A- / $90 / bookersbourbon.com