It has been an interesting week, so far, professionally and personally. So after a delightful dinner of bacon wrapped sirloin steaks I picked up on a whim last weekend at Wal Mart, served with steamed asparagus and roasted potatoes, topped with a rosemary red wine sauce I whipped up, I decided to compare two editions of Booker’s tonight, the 2018-1 Kathleen’s batch, and the 2018-3 Kentucky Chew. I wish I had a bottle of 2018-2, Backyard Barbecue, but, like a really beautiful and fun woman you meet on a Friday night and spend this great Saturday together including a wonderful dinner date Saturday and you wake up Sunday morning and she’s gone, never to be heard from again, well, that was the bottle of 2018-2 I had.
The mere fact that I can even fathom something like that disqualifies me from sitting on the Supreme Court at this point. Oh, and I was at that party where the college girl at a high school party got gang raped while on quaaludes, albeit some six to eight years later. But I have an alibi. I was in the back yard puking up an entire fifth of Dos Dedidos Tequila and I have a ton of witnesses who can verify this, and I knew not what was going on other than what I did to myself. Pretty sure that, among other things I did in college, disqualifies me from Supreme Court service.
Now, I am obviously against sexual assault of anyone given what has happened to other people that are close to me, both family and friends. But, the Kavanaugh hearings did have me thinking what if everyone that saw me do anything messed up in high school and college came forward and said what I did back in high school and college, even though short of sexual assault, and to be honest, if President Trump called me up to tap me for the Supreme Court, I’d be like, nah…
So, on to the bourbon. Booker’s 2018-1 vs. 2018-3.
2018-3, the Kentucky Chew, is a very traditional Jim Beam flavor profile, and reminds me of an early bottling in 1996 I drank back then.
Color is medium amber. Legs are fairly thin, but lengthy, despite the proof. Nose is hazelnut, baking spice, vanilla, Reeses peanut butter cup (even if only slightly). Palate is rich in vanilla, baking spice, and roasted nuts in a flambé. Finish remains a little nutty. Very reminiscent of Baker’s; particularly on the finish. It is representative of a time when the Jim Beam Small Batch collection was a lot less diverse in terms of flavor.
Color is slightly, but ever so slightly darker than the Kentucky Chew. Nose if more baking spice forward with no nutty overtones. A little oak and leather. Legs are longer and thicker. On the palate is corn sweetness, rye spice, cinnamon with a slightly heavier mouthfeel than the 2018-3. It is sweeter yet more oak heavy than 2018-3. However, Kathleen’s batch is one month younger than Kentucky Chew, although you would never know that tasting them.
Frankly, you wouldn’t even necessarily conclude these were the same bourbon tasting them. Different warehouse placement apparently makes a huge difference, and, when it comes to Booker’s, they include cards that indicate the warehouses, stories of said warehouses, and percentages used in each blend.
How cool is that? A distillery giving you tons of detail about the bourbon you are getting. Good on them. Despite being owned by a Japanese conglomerate, Beam is making unique good bourbons you should definitely have on your shelf. Now, I have to admit that I like Fred Noe’s Knob Creek single barrel releases a great deal, particularly store picked barrels, over Booker’s, as far as flavor profile. Booker Noe was totally against Single Barrel releases as he felt small batch was far batter, blending a few barrels for the perfect flavor profile. So I am a Fred Noe vs. Booker Noe fan. But Fred really knows how to put out a bottle of bourbon of which his Dad would be proud. For serious bourbon collectors, you need to have a bottle of 2018-3 Kentucky Chew on your bar. It is classic Booker Noe and Baker Beam bourbon. Very old school. Fred Noe replicated that on purpose. While I like Kathleen’s batch better as it is more like Buffalo Trace aged bourbons like George T. Stagg, Stagg Jr, William LaRue Weller, and Col. E.H Taylor Barrel Proof, I have to give it up for a classic Beam bourbon taste at cask strength that is just so terribly old school Jim Beam. Kentucky Chew is like a time capsule unearthed from the early nineties when Booker’s made its debut. I plan on getting another bottle just to bunker it for some future date when I just have a hankering for old school Booker’s. However, my last bottle (I have had three) of Kathleen’s batch will be drunk sparingly, because it is really good in its own right.