Booker's 2022-01 "Ronnie's Batch" Bourbon Review
I've had plenty of Booker's batches by now... I think I have everything back to the beginning of 2016 on my shelf at this point, but I still get excited when a new one drops. Ronnie's Batch was no exception to that; the first of 2022 had some pretty big shoes to fill as Bardstown Batch was a really killer whiskey from last year. I had a strange hankering for distinctly nutty flavors from the moment I woke up this morning. I used this opportunity to crosscheck with the website to see which new Booker's batch I hadn't reviewed yet and sure enough this one hasn't had a proper sit down yet! I did do a quick flight that included it on my Instagram where you will find a comment with my first impressions. I will wait to revisit those thoughts until I am done tasting here so they don't influence my review today.
Smells fantastic - heavy charred vanilla upfront. Nuanced floral fruit, leather, malt and smoke are layered all through. Sipping I find this release to be incredibly approachable for the proof. It's toffee and caramel forward with just hints of nuttiness floating in the background. The linger is surprisingly long and it carries heavy funky molasses. Something about it tastes fairly old.
Now let's get into another Amongst the Whiskey review!
Company on Label: James B. Beam
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Age: 6 years (11 months, 22 days)
Further identification: 2022-01 Ronnie's Batch comes bearing a tan label in a wooden box with a batch information card
Nose: Mmm. Vanilla sugar cookies right away when I lift the glass to my nose. Just a touch of soft yet sweet spice rises to the occasion. Such big, beautiful oak tones are so well balanced here you'd think this batch was 12 plus years old. There's a background hint of confectioners sugar and incredibly light and approachable cinnamon that comes off like an apple cider doughnut - yum! Deeper inhales pull apart doughy molasses, earthy old growth forest, and sharp vanilla aromas. It gives me the feeling of being in the deep woods of Maine in the Summer with the hope of finding a hidden waterfall somewhere around the next corner to take a dip at. As the verdant forest vibe starts to fade I find an incredible volume of baking spices - nutmeg leans towards a soft apple pie and black pepper is soft and silky in the nose-feel. Time for a sip!
I love where this has gone after coming back from sipping the whiskey. I get the hints of cherry, the fiery cinnamon hots reminiscent of Stagg Jr Batch 14, and lovely lychee sweetness. Damn; it just has something nostalgic of 'just getting hooked on bourbon' for me personally too, but your mileage my vary here. Surprisingly I am not finding any nuttiness here and that was what I set out to try to find. Yum! After a bit of resting time in the glass the chocolate and cinnamon aromas have built up in great intensity. I love a pour that surreptitiously delivers such potent smells when you least expect them. Late in the glass I find a nice drizzle of honey, rose petals, and the slight iron metallic tinge I mention in the early tasting notes. Oh! The empty glass finally delivers some nuttiness with almonds and pistachios coming up to the surface for me. It's also intensely chocolatey with hints of cherry skins and grapes.
Palate: From the get-go I find a juicy plum that splashes into a dry cacao bed before rolling over into a tannic handful of Sun-Maid raisins. What an intriguingly delicious first sip! There's definitely a bit of heat here that will satisfy the barrel proof lovers. A subsequent sip builds upon the red stone fruit medley while adding in a touch more of the baking spice I was finding on the nose. There's just a hint of an iron metallic note somewhere in the middle of the sip that is interesting. Oh wow. Third time's the charm. Orange peel jumps out at me as a soft vanilla bean cream begins to warm itself across my taste buds. The mouth feel gives me the experience of a fleeting, melting concoction like a chocolate truffle. As the glass weathers on, so do my taste buds. I do find that I am starting to go a bit 'proof-blind' as some barrel strength offerings will do. I will take a short break to have a glass of water here. Towards the bottom of the glass I begin to find some linen characteristics that seem to be in some way tied to the Beam yeast as post-fire Heaven Hill distillate seems to consistently deliver the same flavor. To a lesser extent the older Buffalo Trace releases (i.e. George T Stagg) also do to a lesser extent so it may also have some relation to oak barreling too. In this glass I also find dark, malted caramel, touches of leather, and a soft breadiness throughout. Small flashes of angostura bitters can be picked out at times. My last sip is not quite savor worthy with a quick flash of chocolate covered cherries, molasses and vanilla biscotti followed by a short linger of low intensity bread flavors.
(Really good; I want one of these on my shelf.)
Another fantastic Booker's batch I am stoked to have on my shelf. I do think this pour experienced an early crescendo and did not stand up to my long-term pick-apart. It certainly satisfies the barrel proof lover early on but may not be a two-glass kind of bourbon necessarily if that punchy profile is what you are after. If you have tamer taste buds this is an exceptional introduction to uncut, unfiltered whiskies. Let me know what you think of this batch! I definitely dig it overall.