I've been meaning to get into a deeper dive of this whiskey for a while now. I have had a tipple or two already so I know it a little bit, but I surely haven't sat down for a proper review yet. Finally we get to rectify that today! This ongoing release has been all over the map for me. I know that I'm in general quite a big Beam fan, so I approach every one of their new releases with excitement, but tempered expectations. I love that this is the Booker's line really experimental branch and I think this blend definitely follows that same vein. Their website has more information about this batch, for now, I just want to get into it!
Company on Label: James B. Beam
Whiskey Type: Blended Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed
Age: 2 years (blend of 2-15 year old whiskey)
Further identification: This 2021 release is a blend of 2 year Kentucky straight bourbon, 3 year Kentucky straight rye malt whiskey, 5 year Kentucky straight bourbon, and 15 year Kentucky straight bourbon
Nose: Sugary, caramel candy jumps out the glass first at me. Malt-forward and prevalently spiced, I'm surprised to already have found a quite apparent oak note this early in the glass. There is a nice raisin that seems to be riding atop a wave of molasses. Brown sugar, pepper and a sharp steel metallic note all feels rather heavy on the nose and tells a story of a higher proof whiskey than this. Faint dusty peanut shells can be dug up, perhaps a piece of the key 15 year component on this? Toasted vanilla notes just completely leapt onto the scene now. There's a light linen note that smells like fresh laundry. The air coming off the glass feels light like a bright Spring day.
Time for a sip...
Yum, the sweetness has ramped up significantly here and I'm greeted with all kinds of confectioner scents. The overall feel is definitely one that favors caramel and caramel adjacent notes. Woah, big barbecue brown sugar notes now; this almost has that savory characteristic that Booker's Country Ham delivers. There is a backbone of great sweetness all through this glass too. Raspberry and raisin are the most prevalent notes, but there are subtle nuances of many dark fruit. The nose late in the glass definitely reminds me of some of the earliest whiskeys I got to experience (likely a handful of Booker's batches). It's a unique vanilla you won't find reproduced just like this in anything else. The empty glass smells of rose, honey, and peach jam.
Palate: Wow, this drinks quite soft right off the bat. No first sip of the day punch on the tongue like most whiskeys would deliver. There is a nice cherry forward tongue linger with just a hint of nuttiness like an almond crust. Wow, I really dig the mouth feel on this; while it's not the huge prevalence and richness that some barrel proof offerings it comes across very orderly and complex. There are sweet cherry pops during the sip and then a wave of grenadine and lemon drops washes over. The linger is slightly cooling in the mouth with a light and effervescent black treacle. Taking a few subsequent sips really lets the spice build. I get cinnamon hots, blackberry cobbler and a flavor I don't recognize well, but it feels quite bright. This blend - like many other blends I've tried - gets a little overwhelming to experience at times because there seems to just be so much going on with it that only very key notes clearly identify themselves. The mouth feel is quite cooling and numbing, likely attributed to a mint flavor that doesn't quite materialize on the taste buds. As the glass starts to get low some citrus and tea flavors begin to shine more than others. I really am amazed by the mouth feel on this, perhaps more of the rye (the 3 year component) shows off here. My last sip carries brown sugar, rye bread and chocolate covered cherries.
Going through this whiskey feels a little out of order at times; things don't build or subside when you expect them at all. This glass was full of many pleasant surprises and Freddie Noe has managed to really buck the norm with this release while still delivering a great whiskey experience. This one definitely earns some extra points with me for uniqueness, but this profile might not be for everyone, especially those who like to enjoy 2 or more glasses of the same thing in a row. I will continue to enjoy this bottle, but probably 1 glass at a time before moving onto something else.