Ah, Booker’s. Unfiltered, barrel proof and sourced from the center of the warehouse. It’s gotta be a winner, right?
Well before we diver further into the specs, let’s talk a little bit about what Booker’s is and what Fred Noe intends for it to be (or to remain, for that matter).
Booker’s is a line created by Booker Noe–the sixth-generation master distiller at Jim Beam and the grandson of Jim Beam himself. Booker was Fred Noe’s father and predecessor as master distiller at the Jim Beam Distillery. If you’ve visited the distillery, you’ve probably noticed he’s been immortalized in a statue near the visitor center. Once inside, you will be greeted by a list of the master distillers and the Beam/Noe family tree:
Booker was a bit of a tinkerer, and took a great deal of care and attention to create these small batch bottles. Initially he created his small batch for himself and close friends, but in the early 90’s, Jim Beam decided to create a premium line of products; this is the Booker’s we have come to see on the shelves today.
When Booker retired as master distiller in 1992, he told his son, “Fred, make sure they don’t mess with my Booker’s”. Thankfully for us, it seems that Fred has honored his request and has kept each Booker’s release high-quality and deserving of his father’s praise.
Though previous years have seen up to 6 Booker’s batches released, the past few years it has been 4 releases per year (and perhaps what we might expect moving forward). This particular bottle is 2019-03 – Booker’s Country Ham. Fred had this to say about it:
“This batch has an elegant color that is beautiful in the glass. The aroma is sweet with a subtle hint of vanilla that is mingled with brown sugar notes. The flavor is sweet at first with a long, smooth finish that warms your palate. I know this batch would be one Dad would enjoy while he sampled the country hams Freddie and I cure today in the same smokehouse he and his grandfather Jim Beam cured hams in many years ago.”
Fred Noe, Master Distiller
A batch that pairs harmoniously with ham sounds…well, delicious. Essentially you could expect the saltiness and savoriness of the ham to complement a decadently sweet and pleasantly spicy Bourbon.
With that in mind, let’s get to the tasting details!