Tag Archives: jim beam

Booker’s Noe Hard Times Review

Distiller: Jim Beam. ABV: 63.9%. Age: 6 years, 10 months, 1 day. Price: $60 (and rising).

Got the 2016 Booker’s Noe Hard Times for Christmas and I’ve been ever so slowly savoring it.

It’s a monster at 63.90% ABV, aged a bit short of 7 years. The nose is a vanilla blast, with a subtle corn foundation, along with hints of ballgame peanuts, cooked sugar, and heavy wood smoke. The palate, once some water is added, is a thrilling combination of vanilla, corn, drying wood, and dark fruit. The finish, in true Booker’s fashion, goes on and on.

Beam ruffled a lot of feathers with the December 2016 announcement that they were hiking the price of Booker’s from $60 to $100. They claimed supply constraints, which convinced roughly no one. (Booker’s is one of the few bourbons of its quality and popularity that’s been consistently available in most parts of the country.) Some doomsayers blamed the success of the recent Booker’s Rye. After that (very limited) bottling flew off the shelves at $300 a pop, they said, it was natural that Beam would try to squeeze more profit out of the bourbon.

As of January 2017, at least, Beam had dialed back its plans, saying the price would creep up from $60 to $75 this year, and toward $100 after that. Even so, no one’s celebrating the move. But if the product is gonna remain like good, I’ll keep seeking it out.

Cheers, friends, and happy sipping! – TM

Jim Beam Signature Craft Red Wheat Bourbon Review

Distiller: Jim Beam. ABV: 45%. Age: 11 years. Mashbill: 76% corn, 13% red winter wheat, 10% malted barley. Price: $45-50 (375ml).

I’ve always been curious about the small 375ml bottles from the Jim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection that I’ve seen in stores, but have passed due to their $50ish price tag. The series mixes up Beam’s usual mash bill by adding or substituting unusual grains to the old corn-rye-malted barley standby–think brown rice, rolled oats, or triticale.

However, I couldn’t resist when I recently found a bottle of the 11-year-old Soft Red Wheat for $20. As the name implies, it swaps in 13% red winter wheat as the flavoring grain in place of rye. So how is it?

On the nose and palate are notes of sweet fruit, deep oak and slight vanilla. Although light in texture and not overly complex, there’s also subtle spearmint mixed with caramel on the back end, followed with more heavy oak on the finish.

I’m glad I tried this, but I’d have to sample the other bottles in the collection prior to putting down the $50 for a go.

Do you have a favorite of the Harvest Bourbon Collection? Let us know! -JTR

Knob Creek 2001 Review

Distiller: Jim Beam. ABV: 50%. Age: 14 years. Mashbill: 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley. Price: $130.

The Knob Creek 2001 Vintage is the second big special release from Beam in recent weeks paying tribute to the dear departed Booker Noe. The first was the massive cask-strength Booker’s Rye that Noe laid down in 2003–see our review of the rye, which knocked my socks off.

Here’s the other: a 14-year-old Knob Creek laid down in 2001, the oldest ever released. (The Whiskey Jug has some interesting trivia about it and the Booker’s Rye from his tasting of it at the distillery.) The buzz I’d been hearing was “best Knob Creek ever,” so it was great to get an early taste of this too.

I haven’t had every Knob Creek, so I can’t say whether this is the best ever. But I can say this is a great one.

The nose has dark wildflower honey and sweet oak. A touch of mint. With time and air, the oak shades toward cedar. On the palate: oak, grilled fruits, vanilla, and parchment. A bit lighter-bodied than I expected for the age. On the finish, the mint comes back stronger, with dry herbal notes–almost floral–and some grapefruit rind. Just the right amount of bitter oak at the end.

Clearly a special occasion bottle at $130, but an undeniably delicious one.

Cheers! – BO

Jim Beam graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Knob Creek Bourbon online at Mash + Grape

Booker’s Rye Review

Distiller: Jim Beam. ABV: 68.1%. Age: 13 years. Mashbill: 70%+ rye. Price: $300.

It got lots of attention when it dropped in summer 2016, and now that Jim Murray has named it his 2017 Best Whiskey in the World, the buzz about Booker’s Rye is only going to grow.

This 13-year-old, cask strength, non-chill filtered bottling is special in several ways. It’s the first-ever rye from Booker’s (Beam has a younger, lower-proof rye with a different mashbill), it’s one of the few older ryes on the U.S. market, especially cask-strength, and it was one of the last experiments that the legendary Booker Noe put in the barrel in 2003 before he passed on in 2004.

It’s truly limited, too, with 100 barrels laid down and much lost to evaporation. It comes at a serious premium–$300 a bottle–but it’s legitimately a piece of modern American whiskey history.

How is it? Wow. At 68.1% ABV, with a 70+% rye mashbill, the nose is BIG. Huge tobacco, cinnamon, clove. Saddle leather and varnish. Polished mahogany. Just gorgeous. This is the Bookers of rye, all right. Water brings out dark chocolate and chocolate mint notes. Pine sap, anise, some maple. Still more adds dry vanilla and butterscotch.

The palate similarly starts with big oak and a Beam-y roasted peanut note, then with water adds fiery chocolate mint, cedar and pumpkin pie spice. It’s a masterclass in spice. The finish is long as anything, with sweet dense wood notes–a liquified fir forest–and a spicy, peppery prickle.

It’ll be hard to get, and clearly it’s priced for a special occasion, but it’s the work of a master, and a worthy part of Booker’s great legacy. Special thanks to John of @thedramreport for the photo.

Forget finding a bottle–good luck finding a dram! Cheers, friends! – BO

A company representative kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Turkey Bourbon Picks! (Plus one finished rye)

Time for some Turkey Bourbon picks! (Plus one finished rye.) Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or something in between, you can’t go wrong with this bunch.

Start with the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit: a bright and dazzling single barrel spice bomb. Serve Baker’s, the rich and nutty side of Jim Beam’s small batch collection, while you’re carving the bird. When you’re stuffed to the gills and need some real firepower to rally for round 3, the hugely potent cask strength Wild Turkey Rare Breed will get you there.

Then your dessert dram to match the pecan and pumpkin pies? High West’s new port- and French oak-finished Midwinter Night’s Dram, with sweet raisiny notes rounding off the rye so nicely you can taste the crackling fire.

Those are our picks. How about yours?

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! -BO

Old Crow, New Crow – Group Review – Part I

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This whole point of the Axis is connecting with great people over things we all love. Give me a chance to get to know a new friend or catch up with an old one, and I’ll as happily bond over pours of a plastic-bottle bottom-shelfer as drams of Macallan Cask Strength.

Alright, I’m somewhat overstating the case. But you get the idea. There’s little more important in life than spending it in good company. And a good glass only sweetens the deal.

So imagine the thrill when a friend and whisk(e)y mentor from my first weeks in L.A., Josh from The Whiskey Jug, invited me to take part in a group review with him and four more of the best in the spirits blogging business: Josh of the Coopered Tot, Steve Ury (Sku) of Sku’s Recent Eats,  Aaron of It’s Just The Booze Dancing, and Patrick (a.k.a “Pops”) of Bourbon and Banter.

How does a guy – however cowed to be in such illustrious company – say no to an offer like that?

Continue reading Old Crow, New Crow – Group Review – Part I