Booker’s Bourbon, 6 Years 11 Months Old, Batch No. 2021-01E “Donohoe’s Batch”, 62.65% Abv
Today we’re tasting some Kentucky straight bourbon from Jim Beam Co. This is a Booker’s 6 Years 11 Months Old Batch No. 2021-01E “Donohoe’s Batch” Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 62.65% Abv.
Jim Beam Co. produces smaller batches of more more artisanal bourbon that are intended for drinkers who aren’t satisfied with the milder 40% Abv Jim Beam bourbon.
Of the several lines of artisanal bourbon is the Booker’s Bourbon. The story goes that Frederick Booker Noe II (1929–2004) of the Beam family’s sixth generation believed that true bourbon fans would prefer un-cut and un-filtered bourbon straight-from-the-barrel (also known as “cask strength” by the Scots). This led him to create Booker’s Bourbon – the company’s first series of small batch bourbon that was commercially positioned for the mass-premium market.
Booker’s bourbon come in separate “batches”, each with a unique batch code. The batch we have today is Batch No. 2021-01E, and its unofficial name is “Donohoe’s Batch”, named in honour of a former employee, Mike Donohoe, who was a close friend of Frederick Booker Noe III- the current manager of the Jim Beam company.
This is a relatively high-rye bourbon. The mash bill consists of 77% corn, 13% rye and 10% malted barley. We can expect quite a bit of heat from the high rye content.
And as per US bourbon regulations, this bourbon was aged in virgin charred oak casks.
Let’s get to pouring a dram!
Appearance: In the glass, the bourbon is an intense auburn with long trailing legs indicative of an oily texture.
Nose: The nose is bold, complex and quite fragrant and sweet. This opens up with very strong cinnamon, candied ginger, sweet maple syrup and caramelised white chocolate.
This turns towards a raisin character blended with a Bundaberg root beer note that is quite sweet but very slightly medicinal.
The degree of cask interaction seems to be just right and maturation has been executed very well. Wood does not dominate the nose. There are instead well-integrated notes of sweet dried fruits, caramel and light oak.
At about 60% abv you do have to be a little cautious about nosing this and not stick your nose directly into the glass. Just as I expected, there is a mild and temporary alcohol singe that accompanies the woody vanilla notes- though this is entirely expected.
Palate: The palate is rich, lively, sweet and full of depth. Texture is velvety and oily. Initial notes are full of woody caramel notes and vanilla frozen custard.
Sweetness intensifies into a warm, syrupy character as the bourbon rests on the tongue. Continued sipping brings out more honey and a much more distinct medicinal root beer note felt earlier on the nose.
Once again, some caution is warranted. Don’t take too huge a sip! The initial notes are very gentle and inviting, but 2 seconds after drawing a sip, the spiciness from the rye can really be felt. Just as the sweetness intensifies, heat and spice gradually builds from the tip of the tongue to a rather intense spicy-and-numbing sensation on the mid-palate. It’s almost like drinking Northern Chinese spicy numbing hot pot soup (“mala” hot pot / 麻辣火鍋). Fortunately, this is a rather controlled heat which abates just before I begin to perspire.
(Image Source: The Woks of Life)
Finish: The finish is medium length. As spice fades away there appears to be some slightly savoury notes of peanuts, sweet and sour plums, and a hint of ashiness most probably from the charred barrel.
This is a really enjoyable high-rye bourbon with very satisfying and punchy flavours. I would imagine this to be on the top shelf for any bourbon lover.
There’s quite a bit of complexity to work with here. The bourbon has a great weight to it, delivering intense but well-balanced flavours with several dimensions- honeyed notes of dark fruits, root beer soda, caramel, oak and spiciness.
I would highly recommend any bourbon lover to grab a bottle for yourself. This is likely to also appeal to people who already enjoy very rich and sherried Scotches that are full of dried red fruits and oak influence.
First-time drinkers of American whiskey should note that high-rye bourbons are always expected to have a lot of heat and spice. This is entirely intentional and is supposed to make for more complexity. This is still worth a try since it’s a great bottle within the class of high-rye bourbons.
Satisfying and punchy flavours that strike like a hot, glowing meteor. The flavours and complexity are all that you expect and more from a good high-rye bourbon. A solid, dependable bottle.