Whiskey comes in all shapes and sizes. Some people are avowed bourbon drinkers, while others swear by Scotch. Personally I love them both, it just depends what I’m in the mood for, in a particular moment in time. Life is all about context after all. Comparing the similarities and distinctions between bourbon and Scotch is as inspiring to whiskey lovers as contrasting a Napa cabernet with a fine Bordeaux is to a wine lover. One of the things that make bourbon so appealing is the wide array of small batch offerings appearing on our shelves. There are distillers popping up all over the country making interesting examples of bourbon. Many of the large distillers also have a small batch program whose focus is on specific lots produced in limited quantities. I just tasted one that’s part of the Jim Beam family of whiskies and it left a strong impression on me.
Booker’s Bourbon has been produced since 1992. It was at that time that Booker Noe launched it based on a family tradition that went back some 200 years. Booker’s is produced from select barrels and bottled direct from the cask without being cut at all. It is oak aged for between six and eight years, which varies depending on the specific barrel. The proof varies with each barrel too, falling between 121 and 127. This small batch bourbon has a suggested retail price of $54.99. The dark, coppery hue of this bourbon is striking the moment you pour Booker’s into your glass. When you stick your nose in for a whiff, bits of molasses, vanilla bean and toast pop out convincingly. From the first sip your senses are immediately enveloped by a palate loaded with fierce intensity. Mission fig, toasty oak, bits of leather and more present themselves forcefully and inundate your pleasure sensors with wave after wave of flavor. Booker’s Bourbon has a long and persistent finish that reverberates with power, spice and sizzling strength. These flavors tickle the back of your throat even after the last sip is swallowed.
Booker’s Bourbon is not a whiskey you want to do shots with. This is slow sipping bourbon you’re going to want to savor over a relaxing evening with friends. Nor is it for the faint of heart either. This whiskey packs a powerful and impressive punch from the first whiff to the last sip, so be prepared for that. Booker’s is great all by itself. I also tried it alongside some dried fruits and nuts; I found that combination to work really well. However you drink it, if you’re a Bourbon lover, put Booker’s on your short list to try. If you lean towards Scotch, here’s a fine example of how the other half lives.