Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Jim Beam. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
James B. Beam Distilling Co., of course, includes Jim Beam. But many other well-known brown liquors crowd under that boozy umbrella, including Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek, Old Grand-Dad, Booker’s, and Baker’s.
As we mentioned in November, the Baker’s label—named for Baker Beam, grand-nephew of Jim Beam and a tenured distiller who worked at the Jim Beam Distillery for 38 years—is one of Beam’s premium whiskey labels. Created in 1992 by Master Distiller Booker Noe, Baker’s transformed into an exclusively single barrel bourbon in 2019. Even with that, Baker’s kept its age of seven years and its proof of 107.
The new Baker’s Exclusive Selection, however, is “extra aged” for 11 years and 8 months. And the mash bill, according to Breaking Bourbon, is 77 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 10 percent malted barley.
All that said, however, as Baker’s puts it, no two barrels are the same, which means that if you like this single barrel, enjoy it, because it’s not getting replicated. Will we long for this once it’s gone? Or will we sort of shrug and reach for the next pour? Let’s find out.
Tasting Notes: Baker’s Exclusive Selection
Vital stats: MSRP of $100 for 750 ml; aged 11 years, 8 months; 107 proof; mash bill of 77 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 10 percent malted barley.
Appearance: This whiskey leans toward the more orangey side of things: new penny copper, filtered apple cider. It is the color of rust, if rust were shiny.
Nose: Cue contented sigh. So nice. They know how to make a bourbon smell of all the things you love about bourbon. It’s got that old library scent: vanilla, aged paper, cherry. And I get fruit, but fruit with additional sweets, like a bag of chocolate-covered mangoes. Also, those little squares of chalk used for playing pool. This is pleasant; it reminds me of the game room in my grandparents’ apartment building, where I used to sneak as a kid into when senior conversations got boring.
Palate: Oh, darn. Cue slightly annoyed huff. The nose is more engaging than the palate. This tastes a little flat to me. I appreciate that lean toward dry and not sickly sweet, but the nose indicated a depth of flavor that doesn’t follow through on the palate. It tastes far younger than its 11+ years. I get some ginger ale but there’s a bitterness to it. In fact, it tastes like ginger candy that’s gone off a little. At 107 proof, it doesn’t taste of high-alcohol but it doesn’t have as much flavor as I expected.
I didn’t dislike it at all…but I wanted more. And honestly I don’t think it’s worth $100, even for its singular rarity. I’ll give it 3.5, but leaning more toward a 3.25.
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A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor...