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.
Bourbon, schmourbon, you know a friend really likes you when you get Booker’s for a gift. People give me houseplants for some reason, so I was delighted to review Booker’s 30th Anniversary Limited Edition bottling. And also a little intimidated (more on that later). Booker’s has long been held as one of the leaders in the premium bourbon game. A Beam-Suntory brand, it is noted for having multiple high proof releases in a year which are each tied to some kind of theme that’s normally associated somehow with its namesake Booker Noe.
Noe, the one time master distiller at the Jim Beam distillery before he passed away, was the grandson of Col. James Beauregard Beam. You might know him better as Jim. Though Noe started working in the distillery in his 20’s, this whiskey celebrates the 30th anniversary of Noe’s first namesake release. Part of Booker’s special sauce for the regular releases is that barrels chosen for these bottlings are from the center of the rackhouse, where the temperature and humidity are ideal.
What makes this bottling extra-special on paper is the age. While most batches of Booker’s are six-to-eight-years old, the 30th Anniversary Limited Edition bourbon is a blend of nine- and 16-year-old barrels. The presentation boxes are made from old rackhouse floor boards – a nice nod to legacy.
The intimidation I feel writing this review comes from Booker’s reputation, and also from the proof. Can anything lovely shine through at nearly 63% alcohol? Will my torched palate give up any good information? Guess it’s time to put on my big girl slacks and find out.
Tasting Notes: Booker’s 30th Anniversary Bourbon
Vital Stats: 125.8 proof (62.9% ABV); distilled and bottled in Clermont, KY; mash bill undeclared; aged in No. 4 char American Oak; 70% 9 year-old-whiskey, 30% 16-year-old whiskey; $199.99 for 750 mL. Widely distributed in the US, but limited edition.
Appearance: This whiskey is a clear, medium auburn that coats the glass and slowly forms fat legs.
Nose: The aroma is turpentine and banana peel, with an undercurrent of molasses and white flowers. Resting in the glass, this gives way to buttery toffee and nutmeg.
Palate: My brain knows but my mouth forgets and – wham! – the alcohol content stuns my palate for a second. After the shock I notice the silky mouthfeel, assertive vegetal notes and honey. The result is remarkably smooth and coherent. The mid palate blooms into a crust-of-poundcake and ushers in a medium-long creme brûlée finish.
This is a slow-sipping, quality bourbon that will probably only continue to skyrocket in value. It’s a fitting addition to the Booker’s line, even if it’s one few fans will get to pour.
User Review3.27 (37 votes)
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In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the...