Women have held a place in the whiskey world for centuries despite the brown liquor being strongly associated with masculinity. Kathleen DiBenedetto is one such lady, whom in 2015 was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. Mentored by none other than whiskey great, Booker Noe, Kathleen “helped pave the way for the premium bourbon category we all know and love today.” Fred Noe and the team at Booker’s/Jim Beam decided to honor their long time employee of more than 25 years earlier this year with her own Booker’s batch.
Like other batches of Booker’s, “Kathleen’s Batch” is unfiltered and uncut, making a strong bourbon for the strong woman it’s named after. It is a blend of seven barrels from five production dates and three warehouses (a bit much if you ask me). Hand picked by Kathleen, Fred Noe, and Booker’s Bourbon Roundtable the barrels breakdown as follows:
4% from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse ONE
6% from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse F
3% from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse F
19% from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse H
30% from the 5th floor of 9-story warehouse H
13% from the 6th floor of 9-story warehouse H
25% from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse H
How does this particular blend of barrels play well together? Let’s find out.
Booker’s Batch 2018-01 “Kathleen’s Batch” (image via Courtney Kristjana/The Whiskey Wash)
Vital Stats: 63.7% ABV, 127.4 proof. Kentucky straight bourbon aged 6 years, 3 months, 14 days. 750mL ~$70 to 75.
Appearance: Deep amber.
Nose: Delectably sweet with toasted marshmallow meeting butterscotch and toffee. Cherry and orange peel are at the forefront. There is a slight essence of jasmine and cinnamon. Presiding over the entire dram is the scent of Sharpie permanent marker.
Palate: To start you it comes off hot with an oily mouthfeel before deciphering cherry and a smokey oak char. Allspice and ginger pop out and it reminds me of a molasses cookie. Cutting it with water makes it unbearably bitter with a lot of vanilla, and it still remains hot. Adding ice slightly brings down the burn, but the cresols giving that Sharpie marker and bitter flavor stay pronounced leaving none of the desirable flavors available to taste.
The Booker’s Batch 2018-01 “Kathleen’s Batch” is a beast of a bourbon at 127.4 proof. Normally I go straight for high proof whiskies, but I’m divided by this one in particular. I love the aromas and the flavors without doctoring it with water or ice, but it’s too hot to enjoy neat. On the other hand, dropping the proof with water or sipping while on a big cube is disastrous.
Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...