In my previous post, I looked at the first Booker’s batch of 2020 with disappointment. Although the whiskey itself is solid, the retail pricing (in Florida) is anything but. I ended the review saying I’d have no reservations accepting a pour, but if you throw cost into the equation, then I’m looking elsewhere. Jim Beam used to be the brand that came to mind for high value, but depending on where you live, some of their stuff can have truly bizarre pricing. For example, in my area, Old Grand Dad 114 consistently costs more than Knob Creek Small Batch, while Jim Beam Single Barrel is right on the cusp of Knob Creek Single Barrel. And Booker’s? Price-wise, it’s competing with Joseph Magnus, Barrell Craft Spirits, Jefferson’s Ocean Cask Strength, and Black Maple Hill.
Now it’s time to look at another Booker’s batch (my fourth, not including the 30th Anniversary), 2020-02 “Boston Batch.” A couple channels I follow tried this batch shortly after it came out and were not impressed. That being said, the people behind these channels are die-hard Booker’s fans, whereas I might come across like a cranky newcomer who thinks he knows everything. So who knows? Maybe Boston Batch ends up being something I’m more open to than others…let’s find out.
A sample for this was provided by a fellow whiskey fan.
Nose: Orange, vanilla, and nuts. Almost like orange cream with a sprinkling of nuts. Nougat, corn, lemon citrus (slightly floral), and almonds. Swirling brings forth a bit more cherry and brown sugar with almonds soon to follow. Almond butter and mellow lemon. After sipping there’s more brown sugar, oak, and vanilla than anything.
Palate: Cornmeal and lightly roasted almond butter. Brown sugar, oak, and caramel. Further sipping helps dial in the roasted nut qualities, as well as some wheat toast with a generous supply of honey drizzled on top. Get a bit of orange marmalade/spread to go with the toast and nut butter too.
Finish: Fresh roasted nuts, moderate oak char, and slightly more developed corn note (less cornmeal, more cornbread). Residual fruitiness from the palate amidst everything to complete the experience. Has a drying effect on the tongue that may appeal to Booker’s fans.
Not too out of the ordinary as far as Booker’s goes, but I will say this is a nicely balanced and comprehensive pour. The classic Beam nuttiness you’d expect is fully present, but is complemented by other qualities that make it more complete than the last few Booker’s batches I’ve looked at. Additionally, the oak/whiskey balance is spot-on; despite tasting a touch young upfront, this is leveled out by a considerable amount of oak influence. Sipping quickly goes from the aforementioned youth to barrel influence and gradually settles between the two at a nice midpoint.
I’m inclined to call Boston Batch “simple but effective,” but to say that it’s simple would be disingenuous. A more accurate description might be that it’s simply enjoyable, something I can enjoy without thinking too much, but if I want to break it down, then there’s substance to chew on. Perhaps other Booker’s batches could also be described this way, but until Boston Batch, the brand never struck me as anything other than competent. Does Boston Batch make me want to rush out and buy a bottle for the going rate in my neck of the woods? No. Would I choose a bottle of it over other Booker’s batches I’ve tried thus far? Almost certainly.