- DISTILLER: Jim Beam Distillery
- MASH BILL: Undisclosed; mingling of three whiskeys: (1) 7-year-old Straight Kentucky Bourbon; (1) 4-year-old Straight Kentucky Brown Rice Bourbon; (1) 8-year-old Straight Kentucky High Rye Whiskey
- AGE: Mingled Whiskeys Aged 4, 7 and 8 Years
- YEAR: 2020
- PROOF: 122.8 Proof (61.4% ABV)
- MSRP: $124.99
- BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Sweet Oak | Vanilla | Sticky Rice
TASTE: Vanilla | Caramel | Cherry
FINISH: Rye spice | Long, dry finish
SHARE WITH: Cask strength whiskey fans
WORTH THE PRICE: Little Book is an annual, limited-release, cask-strength whiskey and is priced as such, but $125 is too steep for me.
BAR, BOTTLE OR BUST: At this price, I’d recommend trying it at a bar first. I am glad I tried it, but I wouldn’t buy a bottle.
OVERALL: I’m not normally a booster of Jim Beam products, but when I saw this chapter of Little Book was going to get weird with brown rice bourbon, my curiosity was piqued. To be fair, I’m not sure what exactly the brown rice bourbon is bringing to the party; maybe some sweetness and viscosity? Rice is often used as an adjunct in brewing due to its relative neutrality. Perhaps that explains the vague Canadian whisky note I get on the nose.
The nose on this was disappointing and seems muted in spite of the high proof point. I had to rub a couple drops between my hands to coax out some of the aromas. On the palate and finish, the proof announces itself. The peanut note I often get from Beam products is muted. The finish is good and drying without being overly tannic. Adding a little water brought out some RedHots flavor on the finish.
The lesson I learned here was to let this one open up in the glass for a while. Ultimately, the disappointing nose keeps me from recommending you buy a bottle, but I could see this being interesting to Beam fans.
NOSE: Delicate | Milk Chocolate | Macarons | Grilled Sweet Corn
TASTE: Browned Butter and Brown Sugar | Roasted Pecan | Burnt Orange | Dark Caramel
FINISH: Lush, lively, warm, long then slightly drying
SHARE WITH: Any whiskey fan
WORTH THE PRICE: If you’re up for a splurge
BAR, BOTTLE OR BUST: Bottle
OVERALL: Thanks to COVID, what in the past has been a group press trip to Jim Beam in Clermont for Little Book releases was, by necessity, changed to a one-on-one Zoom call with Freddie Noe. I love those group trips, but I mean it when I write, “thank COVID,” because it created one-one-one time with a Beam eighth-generation distiller who never seems exhausted by endless questions. Such times also afford access to great backstories such as the names of his private tasting panel: father Fred Noe, master distiller at Beam, mother Sandy Noe (a character the equal of her always entertaining husband), and wife, Kaye Noe, the lone quiet presence of the friendly foursome. “I don’t like telling Dad or Mom what I’m doing until I’m ready to share liquids with them, and on this release, I shared it three times, but without telling them what it was. I don’t like to reveal much about it until I’ve gotten their take.” They liked it, and so do I.
The “Lessons Honored” part of Little Book 4’s name points to Fred’s decade-long distillery mentorship of Freddie. He’d hoped to honor his dad with an unveiling event on Father’s Day at the distillery, but since there’s this pandemic going on and all, and “that didn’t turn out like I’d hoped.” At least the whiskey itself did. To my take …
Every Little Book release is, to my palate, unique and extraordinary. Fans will recognize they’re Beam whiskeys, but no standard Beam whiskeys. Hearing Noe talk about the effort required to make them adds to their complexity, and conversations about them reminds me just how hard mingling whiskey really is—especially when using a brown rice-accented bourbon. It’s that bourbon that Noe said, “that anchors the complexity of the blend but not the majority of the blend.” I agree. The sweet, round and velvety textures which that whiskey provides work like a thread binding the whole. This is a thinking person’s whiskey, a dram deserving quiet contemplation.
I will admit that $125 for a bottle is a steep ask, but when considered as a liquid for a special occasion toast or a gift to a valued whiskey lover, the price becomes more reasonable. (Funny how you’ll spend more on others than yourself sometimes. This is one of those times.) Bottom line is you’ll not be sad that you own one. It’s delicious.
EIGHTH GENERATION BEAM DISTILLER FREDDIE NOE RELEASES FOURTH CHAPTER OF LITTLE BOOK® WHISKEY SERIES - "LESSONS HONORED"
CLERMONT, Ky., Aug. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam distiller and creator of Little Book® Whiskey, is proud to announce the fourth installment in his annual, limited-release series of blends – Little Book Chapter 4: "Lessons Honored."
Like the previous chapters in the acclaimed Little Book Series, "Lessons Honored" continues to deliver on Noe's passion for creating first-to-world, high-quality blended whiskies, while also honoring the Beam family legacy. Noe's inspiration comes to life in "Lessons Honored," which features three uncut and unfiltered1 American whiskies that bear a connection to his father, 7th Generation Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, and the pair's shared time working at the James B. Beam Distillery this past decade.
"This year's release is an ode to my dad and the lessons he has passed down to me about bourbon and life, all of which I hope to pass down to my own children," Freddie Noe said. "A lot of them go back to honesty and integrity. He taught me to be true to myself, which is something that's very important in our family, and to know when to slow down and be patient. Dad's values carry over into our whiskey brands, and I'm proud to honor him with this special blend."
Expertly blending a 4-year-old Kentucky Straight Brown Rice Bourbon, an 8-year-old Kentucky Straight "high rye" Rye Whiskey and a 7-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Freddie Noe achieves a unique and well-composed whiskey with no one component overpowering another.
- The Kentucky Straight Brown Rice Bourbon, which delivers complex notes of oak and fruit to the blend, reminds Freddie of the first distilling project he handled on his own, after years and experiences under Fred's guidance.
- The "high rye" Rye Whiskey is an ode to Booker's Rye®, an award-winning product created in 2017 and one of the first commemorative releases that Fred and Freddie tasted and selected together. This component lends a sweetness paired with rye spice that lingers across the entire palate.
- The extra aged Kentucky Straight Bourbon rounds out the blend with rich flavors reminiscent of Beam's Small Batch Bourbon Collection and preferred by Fred. Though he didn't know it at the time, Fred actually helped select this final component when Freddie sought his opinion on several different samples.
"Going into the selection and blending process for this year's release, I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to honor my dad and the story I wanted to tell with this whiskey," Freddie Noe explained. "I knew right away these were the whiskies I wanted to work with, so I spent most of my time perfecting the blend to balance the flavors to create a whiskey that would make Dad proud. I think I did just that – all the way down to the blue neck tag which represents our favorite sports team, the Kentucky Wildcats."
Little Book® "Lessons Honored" was developed by Freddie Noe with the following characteristics:
- Blend Overview:
- 4-year-old Kentucky Straight Brown Rice Bourbon
- 8-year-old Kentucky Straight "high rye" Rye Whiskey
- 7-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Proof: 122.8
- Tasting Notes: Little Book "Lessons Honored" features flavors of full-bodied brown sugar, rich charred wood and dried cherries. The finish is soft and decadent, leaving a warm caramel taste on your tongue, followed by a spicy finish.
- Sipping Suggestions: Little Book "Lessons Honored" is best enjoyed neat or over ice.
Little Book "Lessons Honored" will be available nationwide in limited quantities beginning in August 2020 with a Suggested Retail Price of $124.99 for a 750mL bottle.
Disclaimer: Jim Beam 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.