I don't think I've ever opened a bottle faster than this one... I knew I wanted to get into this fun new blend from the Booker's experimental division right away. I first posted this review to my Instagram, but I gave it another try to make sure my notes were good and my rating was accurate. Let me know if you have tried this one and what you thought of it! Do our notes agree?
Company on Label: James B. Beam
Whiskey Type: Blended Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed
Age: 4 years (a blend of 4-5 year whiskeys)
Further identification: This 2022 release is a blend of 4 year straight malt whiskey finished with cherrywood staves, 4 year straight malt whiskey finished in applewood smoked barrels, 4 year straight malt whiskey finished in hickory smoked barrels, 4 year straight malt whiskey finished with maplewood staves, and 5 year Kentucky straight bourbon; it is listed as recipe 063 and it was comingled by Freddie Noe
Nose: Caramel and breaded banana foster. Funk, malt and light savory spice. Fig shows up lightly with cream. Oh wow, after it opens up a little bit the young oak really starts to show up. I get a rubber characteristic like latex gloves too. With a little resting the nose returns to a malty caramel. Faint maple spice dances. I get a lot of Cleveland Whiskey vibes from this. Gingerbread is an awesome late addition to the aromas on the glass. Wow the smoke from the palate comes through clear as day as the glass nears empty. The empty glass smells of chocolate, railroad ties and Ovaltine malt candies.
Palate: Banana transfers well upfront with smoldering plum spice. I find youthful oak, lemongrass and mint. The mint is tied to a chocolate note like a thin mint; bright wintergreen cools the tongue. Hints of nuttiness and a persistent smoke linger on the tongue. Funky spices. I dig the profile overall when you evaluate it on its own. As soon as you compare it to another whiskey though, that luster fades quickly. The finish is medium with banana, pear and Chardonnay sweetness; yummy at times! The youthful banana is ever present from the high malt characteristic (similar to younger Old Elk bourbons) which just cannot be shaken once you find it.
This pour benefits from time and patience & I’d definitely want people to give it a few tries before jumping on the “it’s too young” train here! Admittedly even though I initially didn't think it tasted young, on my second pour of it I definitely do; it actually manages to drink below its age for me. This pour definitely started a bit underwhelming, but it ended up quite complex and unique. I would not suggest you drink this after having some higher proof offerings or higher age statement whiskeys.
For some extra perspective to the other Little Book releases, I'd probably put this somewhere on-par with Chapter 1. Actually - I still have Chapter 1.... Let me decide that here and now. Hmm. Yeah - Chapter 1 comes off as a nice reprieve from 6. I get some nice bubblegum flavors that are sweet, refined and conditioned compared to Chapter 6. My official ranking is thus (slipping in 5 I just revisited offline):
Chapter 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 1 > 6
I typically leave out the relationship to cost in all my reviews when possible, so I will leave that up for you to decide based on the flavor profiles I laid out above. It is definitely a uniquely crafted offering and I will let the rest of the whiskey world debate over the price / value of this as a separate discussion. Cheers!