See, Jim Beam is a reasonable bourbon. And they also make rye, which I like (and which I can taste is objectively a better rye, but I still personally prefer Old Overholt), and that puts them up in my estimation. But Jim is just a bourbon. You can mix it with Coke, you can do all sorts of things with it, but drinking it straight, well, you can, but it's really not worth it.
But they've got really good distillers there. And they wanted to Show Off. So they created their "Small Batch" collection, a series of four bourbons that prove that their distillers are really All That And A Bag Of Some Kind Of Cracker That You Eat To Cleanse Your Palette Between Tastings.
Of the four, I'd previously only had Knob Creek, which was fantastic.
But this one . . .
If you're tasting it, I suggest adding just a splash of water to it. That's how I tend to drink my Scotch, too. There are two schools of thought about complex whiskeys and whiskys. One claims that they must be drunk neat; the other claims that you may add a small splash of water.
I'm going to talk about Scotch, for a moment or two first, to get around to the bourbon.
Me, I always do my initial tasting and first few sips neat to get the full effect, then add a splash of water to open it up. See, tasted neat, most good Scotch has a powerful alcoholic kick, which is, of course, part of the appeal. But I tend to find that, for me, the kick tends to drown out some of the subtler notes (mind you, there are plenty of very, very good Scotches that are about as subtle as, well, a Scot. And I like those, too -- the ones that say "PEATY SMOKE!!!!OMG!ELEVENTYONE!" are quite yummy. But, anyway). Adding a small splash of water dulls some of the alcoholic kick.
Now, obviously, the two schools of thought differ on whether dulling the alcoholic kick is a good thing or a blasphemous thing. But I like to do so to be able to taste things more thoroughly.
Which brings me to Booker's.
The initial taste, uncut, has an immense kick. The stuff is something like 120 proof (60% alcohol by volume; most bourbons are around 80 proof/40%). And enough amazing flavor notes that you can still taste them through the kick.
So I had to put a splash of water in, to taste it more completely.
The nose is sweet, almost flowery, with the notes that make me love rye whiskey so much. (And, by the way, any Canadians reading this: when I say "rye whiskey", I mean whiskey made with at least 51% rye, mostly made in bourbon-making areas in the United States. I do not mean what we call "Canadian whiskey", which you call "rye". Canadian Club, Seagram's, Crown Royal -- they're all fine whiskeys, but they don't have any rye in them, so they can't be "rye".) I can detect an almost chocolate note in it, and I'm realizing that I should have poured it into a whiskey glass instead of a shot glass. It just seemed, I dunno, wrong to pour a bourbon into a tasting glass, even though it really does have enough nose to benefit from the vapor-trapping.
Like all over-100-proof alcohols, when it hits the tongue, it vaporizes and fills your sinuses. If you sip it with small sips, nothing ever actually goes down your throat -- it vaporizes and you absorb the alcohol through your mouth and nose. Which will get you drunk, by the way.
On tasting, I detect a significant smoky note. I mean, it's almost as smoky as some Scotches I've tasted (mind you, I'm talking it's nearly Highland Scotch smokiness, I'm not talking about anything remotely like Islay smokiness or anything). It has a lot of sweetness, too.
This is truly a Scotch-drinker's bourbon.
Okay, I'm going to stop typing now and start drinking.