The complete package: uncut, unfiltered, full-flavored, richly textured (almost chewy), and very complex. Notes of toffee-coated nuts, vanilla fudge, polished leather, cedar-tinged tobacco, barrel char, cocoa powder, and a hint of fig, wrapped up with a firm oak grip on the finish. Worth every penny of the premium price being charged for this commemorative release. Editor's Choice.
Is this perfect? From the look and nose, yes. Rich caramel and campfire smoke early on; it’s robust, but balanced. Crème brûlée with a sultry smokiness, raw honey with a dusting of nutmeg and a Scotch ale malt profile that’s creamy and mouth-coating. Alas, a heavy bite hides much, needing water to open up. A drop adds complexity, spice, vanilla, chocolate, and licorice.
At 6 years, 4 months, and 6 days, this is beautiful. Honey, cinnamon, and marzipan are the opening trifecta, preparing you for roasted-nut wonders: almond, walnut, and pecan. Then it’s complex crème brûlée, balsamic vinaigrette, salted caramel, molasses, maple syrup, and hints of toasted pine nuts, leather, and anise. With an eyedropper of water, it becomes a caramel bomb. In both cases, long finishes await, with hints of caramel.
If Picasso sketched bourbon, it would look like Booker’s, with deep golden and auburn hues. But higher-proof color can deceive. Not here. Think bourbon warehouse: oak, caramel, tobacco leaf, cinnamon, vanilla; floral with hints of honey and blueberry. And then it really comes alive. Oh, baby! Candy corn, crème brûlée, maple syrup, nutmeg, and traces of chipotle and cayenne. The proof strength doesn’t show. I recommend this batch neat for full, unrelenting flavor.
Aged 7 years, 1 month, and 7 days. Big and chewy, with nutty toffee, molasses, nougat, tobacco, pencil shavings, subtle
fruit, and dried spice (cinnamon, vanilla). Leather, barrel char, and a hint of licorice root on the finish. Big, bold, and very enjoyable.
The first in a series of limited edition releases for 2015. Not as rich, thick, sweet, or deep as last year’s classic 25th Anniversary bottling. This one’s lighter, drier, and with more spice. Cinnamon, mint, nutmeg, licorice root, citrus, and subtle botanical notes, all wrapped up in caramel and vanilla. Dry, pleasant finish. If the 25th Anniversary bottling was an ideal digestif, this one is more suitable as an aperitif.
Aged over 6 years, this is a rather feminine version of Booker’s. It’s sweet, relatively gentle compared to previous releases, and quite fragrant (bordering on perfumed—especially on the nose). Creamy vanilla coats the palate, with suggestions of coconut macaroon and marzipan. Dried spice (cinnamon, mint) and drying oak on the finish keep the sweetness in check.
Think corn: roasted, canned, creamed, mashed, pan-fried, in salsa, and in bread. The corn pops early and often. This complements hazelnut, caramel pudding, and baking spices. A drop of water really opens this up, softening the corn-heavy notes and bringing forth fruits and spices. Even the finish is better with water. Perhaps this whiskey was meant to have a lower proof.
At 6 years, 4 months, and 4 days old, there’s a bit of an old-school bourbon nose, with caramel and butterscotch leading. Chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg follow. What starts out promising turns to grain, opening up to cornbread, freshly baked rye bread, and vanilla cupcake batter. Once the chewy-to-dry mouthfeel is established, there’s walnut bread, rice pudding, and buttered toast over heat. With water, the grain disappears and malty caramel dominates. This needs water or ice to maximize potential.