I’ve been waiting for this bottle to hit the shelves here for a long time. Oklahoma can be a couple months behind the curve when it comes to new releases, so when this stuff finally showed its face in mid-August at an Oklahoma City store, Kate happened to spot it and snag it for me. She got solid good wife points for that one.
This is the first Booker’s of 2015 that invoked the good ‘ol Booker’s Roundtable. This is when Fred Noe (Booker’s son) calls upon other whiskey enthusiasts and experts to select the batch with him. Among the members of the roundtable were one of my favorite Bourbon authorities, Chuck Cowdery, and Louisville chef Coby Ming. The whole “center cut” thing references Booker’s sweet-spot of the rick house, the center (duh), as well as the fact that this release was selected in part due to it’s flavor profile lending itself well to pairing with food.
I could ramble on for a long time about this stuff and why I’ve been so excited to try it, but hey, Mr. Cowdery and the Booker’s site actually do a fine job of handling that for me so I can just get to the drinkin’. So after you get done reading this sweet review, go check ’em out and get excited for your own bottle!
Company: Beam Suntory
Distillery: Jim Beam Distillery
Location: Clermont, Kentucky
Mash Bill: 77% corn/13% rye/10% barley
Age: 7 years, 2 months, 28 days
ABV: 63.6% (127.2 proof)
Released: Summer 2015
Color: Bright amber
Nose: So much sweeter than I expected. Black tea, sweet cinnamon, and light brown sugar with a bit of ethanol that faded after the glass opened up a bit. The aroma provides no hint at the proof of this pour. It’s subtle and barely offers any oak or rye to balance the sweetness.
Taste: There’s some of that big Bourbon I was expecting. The sweetness carries to the palate well with that tea and brown sugar coming in loud and clear. The barrel is more pronounced than on the aroma and brings classic dry oak, tobacco, smooth vanilla, cola, and cinnamon. The mouthfeel is creamy and coats your mouth immediately like a comforting blanket of booze.
Finish: The sweetness finally subsides here as the cinnamon heat creeps up in volume and the tannins start drying things out. The sweet, subtle aroma leads to a bigger, sweeter taste, then concludes with a spicy, somewhat dry finish leaving me feeling like I chewed on a piece of Big Red gum that was inside a tea bag.
Overall: I have to say, this isn’t quite what I expected. I assumed huge, oaky, spicy, caramel-y things were going to fill my glass, but no, this one brought the sweetness, and not a ton else. The first night we cracked it open was with a nice steak dinner and I didn’t find the sweetness to be as pronounced as I did this go-round. The whiskey was big enough to stand out above the food, but didn’t kill the tastebuds (even with the proof), so if that’s what they were going for, they nailed it. My own hype had me thinking this would rate higher, but aroma is a huge deal for me, and this one just didn’t deliver in that department.