There's another Booker's batch on the inbound track. The first release for 2023 is well in swing by this point, but I haven't seen many reviews for it. Are folks growing tired of the 4 releases per year format? It certainly doesn't lend itself to being done with the previous batch before the new one comes out, so the collectors may have this one just to look at. Well, I for one think this stuff is meant to be drank, so I've got mine open. Pull up a chair and have a read on what Fred Noe & co are up to these days.
On the Booker's website the inspiration of this release is listed saying:
The first release of the Booker’s® Bourbon 2023 Collection is Booker’s Batch 2023-01 “Charlie’s Batch.” This batch is named in honor of Charlie Hutchens, the craftsman behind the signature wooden boxes that each bottle of Booker’s Bourbon comes in. He is also a longtime family friend and former employee of my dad, Booker Noe.
Charlie started his career working at the Booker Noe Distillery. He was quite the storyteller and would entertain others with his tall tales throughout the workday. He was also one to pay close attention to the details, doing something over and over again until it was perfect – just like Dad was with his whiskey. It’s not hard to see why they got on so well.
After several years, Charlie left the business to open his own cabinet shop with his brother. Charlie handcrafted the very first Booker’s Bourbon wooden boxes in his garage, and he’s created every box for us since. He and his brother have expanded their business to create other fine wood products for different brands and projects in the Beam family, including supplying custom furniture to the new Fred B. Noe Distillery – where Booker’s Bourbon is now distilled.
Charlie still lives near our Booker Noe Distillery and enjoys fishing and vacationing with his family in South Carolina. One of these days, my son Freddie and I hope to get out there to fish with him. Our whole family is so grateful for Charlie as he was one of the first people to help us make Booker’s Bourbon a recognizable brand. Charlie is a very worthy recipient of his own batch, and we are excited to honor him.
Fun stories are one thing, good bourbon is another - though they often go hand in hand. Let's find out where the liquid inside this bottle lands.
Company on Label: James B. Beam
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Age: 7 years (1 months, 8 days)
Further identification: 2023-01 Charlie's Batch comes bearing an orange label in a wooden box with a batch information card
Nose: Caramel and peanut brittle jump out at me first in unsurprising hallmarks of Booker's bourbon. Fruit skins like plum and raspberry introduce a much thicker, viscous aroma that oozes out of the glass like luxardo cherry juice. A platter of oak lifts up molasses and leather. Overall the nose is bright and dry once the initial wave of fruit passes on. Dusty oak, black pepper and vanilla begin to dominate as nondescript spices sizzle in a mess in the background. Let's have a sip, shall we?
Coming back to the nose I find a dry pie crust and lovely cinnamon raisin bread has developed in the glass. Picking further through, the glass returns to a more plain medley of molasses and oak. The nose continues to be quite simple, but enjoyable. The empty glass smells of honey roasted plum ice cream and nearly imperceptible smoke.
Palate: From the get-go I taste dark plum, blackberry and raspberry pie. Creamy caramel and sugar cookie proliferate on another sip. A churro with a dash of sweet cinnamon and brown sugar graces the palate on the linger. Finally on the third go I find some real heft and proof, as one would expect out of a barrel proof bourbon. Overall the glass dances along a hairy edge between overly dry and creamy fruit. It's ultimately an easy sipper with fun nuance. Late in the glass I begin to find a tootsie roll sweetness that I really adore, as it reminds me of having my fill during the Plymouth, MA 4th of July parades I used to march in for my dad's local Carpenters Union long before his inevitable retirement. I was supposed to be handing them out to parade supporters of course, but what's a little hourly wage for some hard work? What, you thought only Booker's could sling stories alongside their whiskey? See one, play one my friends! As I get back to the tasting notes you might be able to actually understand, my patient reader, I begin to find just a touch of roasted peanuts, softened well by hints of distant cherry sweetness. The salinity of the lightly seasoned nuts delivers squarely on the tongue while the free air molecules not occupied by teeth or tissue exude that sweet air of stone fruit. My last sip is once again creamy with vanilla bean ice cream introducing a strong melting wave of cinnamon, nutmeg and tarragon. Damn, that last delivery just leveled up this pour. Patience will be your friend with this one!
Taking this glass from quite cool to a warm room temperature elicits a wonderful evolution on the nose. I would like to highlight the fact that I did have an early pour of this bottle that I thoroughly disliked, but considering I have had two other tastings that were similar to the experience I write about here, I think that tough experience was a bit of a palate anomaly. This is why I always tell people never to write anything off at one taste - you'd be surprised how much having an off day can throw off your perception of whiskey! This batch manages to just slide into my high quality Beam category with those subtle fruit layers that were admittedly a little fickle, but ultimately delicious.
Bonus Booker's reviews I'd recommend checking out: