Distiller: Jim Beam. 53.5% ABV. Age: 7 years. Mashbill: 73% corn, 13% rye, 10% barley. Price: $50-60.
Baker’s and Booker’s are often compared, being two highest-powered (and most similar-sounding) offerings from Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection, which also includes the ubiquitous Knob Creek and the pleasant but underpowered Basil Hayden’s.
Booker’s seems to have more fans, but for me, it’s a bit of the Tolstoy vs. Dostoyevsky debate. Or Mozart vs. Beethoven. When both have great things to offer, why choose?
You’ll often see Baker’s profile described as cognac-like, and there’s something to that. The strongest notes I get on the nose are cocoa and honeycomb. With time, old oak. All these are there on the palate, together with a bit of heat, but nothing like the bite of Booker’s. Stewed prunes. And there’s the cognac sweetness and allspice — but with the kind of richness and density in the mouthfeel that only come with the higher proof.
May not be the ideal profile for starting off an evening, but it’s one hell of an after-dinner dram. Cheers! – BO