Whiskey Review: Booker's Bourbon Shiny Barrel Batch - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Booker’s Bourbon Shiny Barrel Batch

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.

I remember my first encounter with Booker’s Bourbon. It was after work, at a bar just down the street, probably somewhere around 18-20 years ago. The bartender, a good friend, puts the bottle in front of me and recommends I try it. I detect a wily smile in his demeanor and decide to go for it in spite of knowing that he decides to mess with me sometimes. Hoo-wee! At that age, I was not at all prepared for the heat and the intensity of the flavors.  But damn, that’s some good stuff! That is my Booker’s story, well, the first.

This bourbon is centered around the stories from Jim Beam land in Kentucky. If you take a look at the labels, each current release has a funky name or reference. For example, Shiny Barrel, Teresa’s Batch, Kathleen’s Batch, and Noe Hard times. They’ve been doing seasonal batches since 2015 and I will admit it’s fun reading the stories behind the bottles.

What’s the deal with the Shiny Barrel Batch? A story we posted when it was first announced talked about how it is so named from a bygone distillery “tradition” whereby there were certain barrels rackhouse workers liked to sneak a taste or two of whiskey from using plastic tubing – called “mules” – that they carried in their overalls. In doing so, their bellies would rub on the side of the barrel, removing dust and shining it up. Some reportedly used to say, “the shiner the barrel, the sweeter the whiskey,” and those shiny barrels were often found in the center cut of the rackhouse where the temperature and humidity were just right.

It is said that when one time Beam master distiller Booker Noe was ready to lay down the first barrels of the bourbon that would eventually bear his name, it is said he knew it had to be in the same area of the rackhouse as “the shiny barrels.” Current master distiller and son of Booker Noe Fred Noe continues to this day to draw from barrels in those same middle floors for Booker’s Bourbon.

Booker's Bourbon Shiny Barrel Batch 2019-2

Booker’s Bourbon Shiny Barrel Batch 2019-2 (image via Beam-Suntory)

Tasting Notes: Booker’s Bourbon Shiny Barrel Batch 2019-2

Vital Stats: Second batch of 2019, 124 proof, 62% ABV, aged six years, five months, and one day.

  • 18% came from the 6th floor of 9-story warehouse D
  • 39% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse E
  • 43% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse J

Appearance: Burnt orange, copper.

Nose: Right off the bat, you get that blast of heat and a touch of toffee. Alright, slow it down and you get the same characteristics, plus some vanilla bean and Seville orange. The citrus element is particularly pleasant once your senses get accustomed to the heat. It’s beautiful and could spend a good half hour just taking in the nuances of the nose.

Palate: In regards to the tasting experience, I found this one to be pretty straight forward. Big toffee up front, more of those citrus notes, and leather. As it finishes, oak emerging from the background and a lingering bit of caramelized sugar.

The Takeaway

Summary

Let's consider the facts. Each current release of Booker's is a blend of different barrels from different rick houses, in different locations therein. The possible variations are close to endless. If you have yet to try the 30th Anniversary Edition, please do give it a go. It's beautiful.

Shiny Barrel Batch is a win. Bold, complex, and above all, balanced. The toffee notes, the hint of citrus, it's great. Now that I've read a bit more into the brand, I am looking forward to tasting different expressions in the future.

4.0
User Rating 2.95 (20 votes)
Sending