Price gripes aside, Booker’s is a whiskey I’ve long respected. Age-stated, uncut, and unfiltered, it’s a no-frills, unapologetic, full-flavored bourbon conceived by the late Booker Noe as a tribute to his grandfather, Jim Beam. This is my favorite batch, 2015’s “Noe Secret.”
Pour: Booker’s Bourbon b. 2015-06 “Noe Secret”
Age: 6 years, 8 months
Color: dense copper
Nose: caramel, nutty toffee, cookie dough
Taste: brown sugar, molasses, semi-sweet chocolate
Finish: long & robust – black cherry, charred oak, tobacco
Overall: While all Booker’s batches share a kindred core profile, some, like “Noe Secret,” showcase extraordinary nuances. The dark fruit on the finish is alone worth the price of admission. Sadly, I’ve reached the end of this bottle. It will be missed.
Rating: Noe replacing.
Considering the popularity of Four Roses Single Barrel private selections, you’d think the Small Batch Bourbon would garner more attention. Unfortunately, the similarly specced Elijah Craig, Buffalo Trace, and the likely Four Roses sourced Bulleit steal its thunder. Go figure.
Pour: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
Age: not stated (reportedly 6-7 years)
Nose: vanilla, citrus zest, herbal & floral spice
Taste: caramel drizzle, orange peel, nutmeg
Finish: moderate length – singed honey, oak, lemon-pepper
Overall: A well-balanced combination of citrus fruit, zesty spice, and classic vanilla and caramel. Four Roses Small Batch is a perfect bourbon for cocktails or casual sipping and remains a personal favorite from my early days of whiskey enthusiasm.
Rating: Damn solid.
Michter’s is a bourbon enigma. It’s reported their whiskey is contract distilled by Brown-Forman, though their well-aged and coveted limited edition stocks are surely sourced. Yet, they leverage their brand on “pre-Revolutionary War quality standards dating back to 1753.” Hmm.
Anyhow, there’s a rabbit hole to descend with that tale, but I’d rather not. Instead, I’ll focus on Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon. You know the one – the bottle you always find on shelves but never get around to buying. I’ll proudly take the bullet – eh – musket ball, for you.
Pour: Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon (batch 20H1957)
Age: at least 4 years
Nose: vanilla creme, orange peel, hints of evergreen
Taste: caramel apple, sweet oak, citrus herbal tea
Finish: moderate length – vanilla icing, nutmeg, faint ginger
Overall: Well, it’s bourbon. Nothing much to rant or rave about. Strangely, Michter’s Small Batch reminds me of a “proofed up” Four Roses Yellow Label (and not at all like Brown-Forman). In a nutshell, core bourbon notes laced with citrus and faint evergreen.