Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Beam-Suntory. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
From the first sips of this tasting I was awarded with multiple layers of flavors and textures. Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon grants a glimpse into the fire of inspiration that the distillers built into this pleasant sipper crafted with boisterous and bold flavors for a more adventurous bourbon drinker.
Produced by Jim Beam as one of their small batch offerings, this single barrel offering that is seven years old is quite aggressive for the average drinker looking for a soft, sweet pour to enjoy by the fire with an old book. I recommend this to adventurous drinkers who appreciate the heat and challenges to the palate that this intriguing drink provides.
Ever since Jacob Beam, originally a corn farmer with a family recipe for whiskey and bills to pay, sold his first bottle of bourbon under the name Jake Beam Sour Mash, the distilling world has drunk in the traditions and innovations that he and his immigrant family brewed into every batch. His family recipe was so popular, it did not take long to cut through the din of more than 2,000 distillers already producing in the state of Kentucky in the early 1800s.
Fast forward to now, and the mega distillery of Jim Beam is now responsible for producing not only bourbons and flavored spirits under its own label, but also continues to engage the whiskey drinking community with some of the most lauded and approachable small batch bourbons, such as Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s, and the subject of this review: Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon.
Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon (image via Beam-Suntory)
Tasting Notes: Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon
Vital Stats: 107 proof; aged 7 years; single barrel designation; prices around $60 per 750 ml bottle.
Appearance: In the bottle, it is on the orange side of amber. With seven years in a barrel it has soaked in a very pleasant and inviting color. In the glass, this allows the color to shift to a lighter, sun-kissed hay.
Nose: When taking my first sniff I was intrigued by the sharp scents that greeted me. There were not only the expected vanilla and soft honey notes, but some floral accents accompanied by a faint whisper of cotton candy and black licorice.
Palate: Once the initial sip evaporated off my tongue, the aggressive nose and shape of the flavors inside the bourbon opened up. Anise, orange peel, and a hint of clove accented the herbaceous qualities that danced around my glass. There was also a glimpse of bee’s wax for the first sips.
Baker’s heat with every sip was the most defined quality. It lit up my tongue and throat and warmed my belly as it painted a complex landscape of the traditional bourbon flavors with pops of color that crept in like a Jackson Pollock.
As enjoyable as these first tastes were, I found that pouring mine over a large cube of ice didn’t just smooth out the fire and sharp edges, it rounded out the complexity as it opened up. Over ice I was able to experience a more mineral-based flavor partnership that brought out a saline and earthy, almost truffle-like note. The cinnamon flavor became more pronounced as well as a distinct citrus accompaniment. Later, I was left with the nostalgic flavor of cinnamon bears as the heat and the sugars from my tasting hung on for their final bow.
This bourbon most likely will not appeal to casual bourbon drinkers that are not fans of the heat that can be associated with some whiskeys. I equate the sharpness in this bottle with the similar warmth I get when drinking a Macallan Cask Strength Scotch Whiskey.
But, at about $60 a bottle, Baker’s has a better price point than many scotches in this category and is in line with the mid to high end of American small batch whiskeys and bourbons.
As the creator and writer of “Johnny Scotch”, John Dover has built his Jazz Noir world from the music he is immersed in on a daily basis and from his travels across the US as a professional musician. John continues to build the “Johnny Scotch” library through short stories, and...