Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Booker’s Bourbon, a line of small-batch bourbon under the Jim Beam brand, is something of a family business. Launched by Frederick Booker Noe II, sixth in the Beam line of master distillers, in 1992, it has since passed into the hands of his son Fred Noe following Booker’s death in 2004. The sixth master distiller’s legacy as a pioneer of small-batch bourbon is remembered in the uncut and unfiltered Booker’s Bourbon The Lumberyard Batch 2022-02, the second of four annual releases from Booker’s Bourbon last year.
The name comes from Booker’s pre-distiller days, according to a description penned by Fred Noe himself, a time in Booker’s life when he was hitchhiking across the U.S. in an apparent attempt to join the Air Force. The logic of this escapes me, but when he finally got around to signing up and the Air Force called his mother for a background check, she convinced Booker to come home instead and work at a local lumberyard.
Apparently, Booker was a big man, 6’4” and appropriately lumbering (if you’ll forgive the pun), so he took to the work quite well. They say that his sheer grit and work ethic landed him a job at the distillery in 1950 as an assistant distiller, though realistically his family line was likely a strong consideration as well. Being Jim Beam’s grandson forged another link in the chain of Beam’s generational business, and this familial aspect of Booker’s Bourbon is still present in much of their marketing.
After signing on to the distillery, Booker worked his way up to master distiller and held the position for 40 years before retiring in 1992. Still, his time at the lumberyard must have been formative enough to pass on stories to his children, for this batch is named in dedication to that particular period of Booker’s life. Perhaps it was the working-class mindset, perhaps it was representative of homecoming, or perhaps it was simply a wild and interesting work environment. Little detail is provided about the lumberyard itself, not even its name, so we can only speculate what captured Booker’s attention and, in turn, Noe’s.
The question that remains: is Booker’s Bourbon The Lumberyard Batch 2022-02 relying on the family name to carry a mediocre product, or is it worthy of the legacy? Luckily for Beam, Booker, and all of us drinking, the bourbon is exceptional. Never have I drunk a whiskey so high in alcohol content yet so easy-drinking and balanced. In fact, following my tasting, I was genuinely shocked to see the 124.8 proof label!
Booker’s The Lumberyard Batch (image via Beam-Suntory)
Vital Stats: 124.8 proof (62.4%ABV.) Aged seven years, one month, and seven days. MSRP $89.99/750mL bottle.
Appearance: Looks like real maple syrup (as opposed to the buttery types found in grocery stores) both in color and its medium-low viscosity.
Nose: Scents of oatmeal, butterscotch, and toasted cashew intermingle delightfully.
Palate: A strong wheat note is immediately followed by more classic vanilla and pear. These latter notes are nudged toward caramel by a slight smokiness absent from most bourbons.
Whiskey Review: Booker's Bourbon The Lumberyard Batch 2022-02
There are few surprises here—just good flavor in perfect balance—but even so, this bourbon is loaded with rustic charm. Considering the overall quality and the higher-than-usual ABV, this is a great bourbon for its price point and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Fred Noe has done right by his ancestors.
Austin Scarberry is a writer and pastry chef based in Portland, Oregon. He uses his experience in the culinary industry to inform his reviews, letting the gentle thoughtfulness he learned from baking guide his work. Outside of The Whiskey Wash, he mainly writes poetry and fantasy/sci-fi. You can find his...