Booker’s first batched release for 2023 is here, dubbed Charlie’s Batch, in honor of Charlie Hutchens, the craftsman behind the signature wooden box that each Booker’s bottle comes in. (With all due respect to Charlie, as the Booker’s box is indeed awesome, but are we running out of batch name ideas?)
This bottling is a relatively long-in-the-tooth 7 years, 1 month, 8 days old, and while the slightly older age isn’t immediately apparent, the proof certainly is, providing a gritty pungency right from the start. Red pepper is tempered by dark chocolate on the nose, with the expected aromas of caramel, vanilla, and barrel char well represented. There’s a light, underlying layer of blackcurrant here, but otherwise fruit elements are absent.
The palate is biting and heavy on the char at full strength. I found it tough going without a few drops of water to calm down the brashness in the mix. A splash does wonders, allowing those hearty chocolate and caramel notes to coalesce around a core of vanilla, toasted coconut, and cloves. Again the barrel is never far out of view, and neither is the clear influence of black pepper.
Never particularly sweet nor overly savory, as some Booker’s releases can be, Charlie’s Batch rides a fine line right down the middle of bourbondom, letting the wood of the barrel do most of the heavy lifting. Nothing wrong with that, but the resulting whiskey has less nuance than some other Booker’s releases, including the sunnier, spicier 2022-04 bottling that hit over the winter.
B+ / $90 / bookersbourbon.com