Booker Noe was one of the legends of American Whiskey. He’s not only responsible for helping make Jim Beam the massive company it is today, he was an innovator when it came to producing small batch whiskey products. His signature product, Booker’s Bourbon, is now in its 25th year, and while Booker is no longer with us, his legacy continues. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of Booker’s Bourbon and to pay tribute to Booker Noe, his son and current holder of the Jim Beam flame, Fred Noe, hand selected a number of barrels from a group laid down to age by Booker Noe shortly before his passing. These barrels are aged 9-11 years, slightly older than are traditionally used for Booker’s releases. The hand selected casks are bottled without any dilution or filtering and presented in a special commemorative wood case.
Booker’s 25th Anniversary Bourbon Batch No. 2014-1 (65.4% ABV / 130.8 proof, $99.99) – dark amber in color, the 25th anniversary Booker’s is considerably darker and richer in color than the traditional Booker’s release. From the nose its cask strength is immediately clear, with aromas just bursting from the glass. While oak is one of the predominant aromas, it’s not the only one, and it’s accompanied by deep caramel, marzipan, clove, and cinnamon. As with the nose, the entry for Booker’s 25th Anniversary is explosive with deep caramel and cinnamon leaping from the glass. The entry has such a nice mouthfeel that it’s hard to believe that it’s 65.4% alcohol. It’s in the midpalate where the raw strength of the spirit really shows itself, with strong cinnamon spice, clove, and oak spice. The deep caramel from the entry is still there in the midpalate providing a rich, sweet floor for all the spice to stand on top of. While there’s definitely some heat here, it’s not unbearable and even considerably tolerable given the proof. The finish is medium long and fairly dry. A lot of what has been established in the midpalate dissipates as it finishes fairly clean with slight caramel and cinnamon. The finish is well within Beam’s core style but a little more abbreviated than we would have liked from this otherwise lush and flavorful whiskey.
Booker’s 25th Anniversary Bourbon is a lot more lush and less acidic than the traditional releases of Booker’s, and even at 130.8 proof, it manages to be quite drinkable with a great silky but balanced mouthfeel. Booker’s 25th responds very well to water which enhances its rich and lush character. Fans of Booker’s will absolutely enjoy Booker’s 25th Anniversary Bourbon. Fred Noe did a great job of finding some honeypot barrels that are well representative of Booker’s style, that have taken the additional age well, have a real lushness to them, and aren’t over oaked. It’s a nice tribute to a great man and a real treat for fans of the brand.