Booker’s 2019-03 Country Ham Bourbon Review
Oh boy... This one is getting low... When I look at a new Booker's batch, I usually use this one as my reference point to determine if a new batch is good. This to me is the wonderful presentation of all the flavors I think Booker's can be and does well. Realizing I have used this as a head to head reference point without actually giving this a full review led me to reach for this tonight! Let's see if it really is my favorite batch currently or not!
Company on Label: James B. Beam
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Age: 6 years
Further identification: 2019-03 Country Ham comes bearing a light grey label in a wooden box with a batch information card
Nose: Starts out with a light brown sugar presenting alongside some dry saltiness. Creamy cherry floats up alongside what I can best describe as salted butter. Some nice allspice and clove sit atop a level vanilla. Peeling back the vanilla reveals the oak which is aged well but not the least bit overpowering. Some light citrus layers mingle around. This glass just has so much to it and I haven't even thought about going for a sip yet. Suddenly the allspice mixes with a bit of zest, tied up in a thick caramel stickiness that finally packs some intensity that shows off the barrel strength of this pour. There are some dull metallic patina notes that are an interesting addition at this stage. Some light leafy greens... This is the kind of experience that made me fall in love with the world of bourbon. I think this glass is finally ready for a sip. Post sip, things maintain a cool temper with vanilla and a maple sugar sweetness carrying most of the aroma. Cinnamon spice. Oh my, a wonderful unmixed hot cocoa powder is now identifiable that I think has eluded me, but has been present from the start. Really delectable notes here. Later in the glass some of the proof starts to show between the cracks of the smooth vanilla as oak starts to take over. My acute senses are starting to get a little overloaded by this proof, but I am definitely left with a lovely light citrus feeling on the nose as I go in for my final sip. Empty glass is all caramel goodness.
Palate: Definitely intense on a non-warmed up palate. I let this first sip coat my tongue a long time to get over the uncomfortable acclimation to 124.7 proof. The end result on swallowing this sip is a wonderful array of cherry sweetness, a slightly sour caramel, and herbal greens that remind me of a New England hardwood forest in the peak of summer growth. Cherry is definitely the dominant palate note coming through here. There is a fantastic mouth coating consistency to this which I definitely regard as highly important to the level of enjoyment I can extract from a glass. This has a similar coating to the likes of a really good Weller Full Proof store pick or my favorite Russell's Reserve pick to date... Along with the cherry sweetness there is definitely a bit of maple syrup, but sprinkled with a little cinnamon and nutmeg... It's a really unique mix that definitely elicits the feeling of some kind of glaze which may be where this batch name drew it's inspiration. This one is definitely one that builds in intensity and complexity the more you sip and let it coat your mouth. A rinse of water can be a helpful reset if things start to turn too dark on the palate. The caramel is slightly effervescent and rising through the palate. Again, part of that mouth coating experience that really sets a good bourbon apart from a great bourbon. Last sip of the glass highlights the slightly savory notes that were present more-so on the nose; with a salty molasses presenting thick and dark. As usual, I am sad to see the bottom of an empty glass with this one. This is another one of those 'bourbon clinic' bottles for me.