New Bourbon: Booker's 2016-1 "Booker's Bluegrass"

photo by Amanda Schuster
photo by Amanda Schuster

Last year, Booker’s Bourbon released 6 limited edition expressions from batches that were selected to honor its founder, former Master Distiller Booker Noe. The batches were chosen for their individual characteristics, meant to reflect cherished Noe family memories. This year, the batches will “... feature a one-of-a-kind label and batch name that offers an unprecedented look into Booker's life, both at the distillery and with friends and family.”

The first in the 2016 series kicks off with "Booker’s Bluegrass." Booker Noe, a formidable personality in many ways, had a true love and appreciation of that musical genre. Says Fred Noe, Booker’s son and Jim Beam 7th Generation Master Distiller, “Whenever there was bluegrass music, he could be found dancing front-and-center or trying his hand at playing with the band."

Like the other batches in the series, the liquid in Booker’s Bluegrass was selected by Fred to match his dad’s preference for rich, full-bodied, unfiltered, cask-strength whiskey.

Here are the stats:

Proof: 127.9

Age: 6 years, 11 months, 0 days

Batch Notes: Barrels chosen from seven different rack houses at Jim Beam.

How it tastes with a neat pour: The first set needs time to tune up. It’s hard to get much on the nose initially, except some faint banana bread aromas. The whiskey shows more spice and sweetness on the palate, with red hot candy, ginger, black pepper and baked brown bread.

How it tastes with a rock (the recommended serving suggestion): With ice, the aroma magically loses its inhibitions and dances towards the nose with fresh red apple, vanilla and baking spices. Tart apricot and roasted nuts chime in, clogging in tune with some dark caramel and maple sweetness.

In all, it’s got a “foggy mountain” start, but like its musical inspiration, it gets toes a-tappin’ once it hangs out a while.

Booker’s Batch 2016-1 “Booker’s Bluegrass” will be selling for around $60 at select retailers.