Booker's 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Bourbon
NOSE: Vanilla | Caramel | Oak | Cooked Cherries | Dried Tobacco | Ripe Banana | Wonderfully Uniform Presentation
TASTE: Oak | Roasted Nuts | Chocolate Muffin | Rye Bread | Maple Syrup | Vanilla
FINISH: Long, strong and dry
SHARE WITH: Any bourbon fan, especially Booker’s fans
WORTH THE PRICE: Not for me, but certainly for some
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar unless you’re a Booker’s fanatic.
OVERALL: From its explosive nose to its punch-in-the-mouth flavor and texture, this is what Booker’s fans love. Booker Noe himself created his namesake brand to be powerful, and it does not disappoint. I first tasted “Booker’s 30” with Fred Noe, III, and a press group inside a 40 F rickhouse in November. Cold but still bold, yet the chilly temps numbed its nuances. (Not complaining. Such adventures make this job fantastic.) Four hours later we tasted it again in a 70 F conference room at the distillery: much more aroma and brighter flavors. We even passed around some cured Kentucky ham slices to top it off.
A month later when I received my full bottle press sample, I struggled to drink it neat. I wondered if chill of the rickhouse and the fat of the ham blunted the edges of those first sips. I’ve always drunk Booker’s neat and added ice only when I wanted to stretch it some. Now, neither time nor water could soften the blow of this whiskey (and I gave it four neat attempts over a few days). Adding ice brought the beast to heel as the texture changed from hot and dry to silky and lush. It also released new flavors of cinnamon, taffy and marshmallow. Friggin’ delicious.
Just to prove my hunch about the drinkability of past Booker’s iterations compared to 30, I pulled out tastes of Kentucky Chew, Kathleen’s Batch and Sip Awhile. Just as I’d thought: easier drinkers.
Despite those quibbles, this is what I love about Booker’s 30: It showed Fred Noe III’s still got some rebel in him. Team Beam wanted to use only 16 year-old whiskey, but Noe considered the nose “off, funky, kinda weird, frankly.” To test his take, he brought in Fred Noe IV, a.k.a. Freddie, and asked what he thought. Same reaction: the nose was off. To get the whiskey he wanted, Fred III requested some 9-year-old barrels be blended into the 16s. It took a couple of tries before he was satisfied. He and his son, the final judges on all things Booker’s, believed it “would make Grandaddy happy,” Fred said.
Disclaimer: provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.