By Father John Rayls
Booker’s “Toogie’s Invitation” should be placed immediately on your bourbon bucket list. In my opinion, this expression has somehow encapsulated the exact aromas, flavor and finish needed for the perfect bourbon experience. I would almost (almost!) be willing to forgo all other bourbons just to have a continual supply of this elixir on my shelf.
I’ve been a huge fan of Booker’s for a very long time, but Toogie’s Invitation has now taken it to another level. Booker Noe and Fred Noe, 6th and 7th generation Master Distillers respectively, have carefully built the brand and its flavor profile over the past three decades into a really special bourbon experience. According to Fred, “We focus on the sweet spot. The center of the rackhouse where the temperature and humidity stars align to create the deepest and most intense flavors.”
Toogie’s Invitation is bottled, in Booker’s style, uncut at cask strength (129 proof) and unfiltered after six years, four months and four days in the barrel. This batch, 2016-3, was named after a very close family friend, Marilyn “Toogie” Dick, who actually helped choose the barrels used in previous Booker’s versions and traveled extensively with the Noe family. Fred Noe states: “Toogie herself, along with the Booker’s Roundtable, helped me to select this batch at her restaurant, Kurtz, in Bardstown, KY. I know Dad would be proud to have this batch of his bourbon named after his dear friend, Toogie.”
Beam describes the bourbon’s color as deep, dark henna-like amber, and I think that sums up the basics as simply and as well as can be said. The legs on the liquid are long and a gentle swirl coats the inside of my Glencairn glass easily. There are golden brass highlights as the sun reflects off of the whiskey.
Upon nosing, you are immediately introduced to an aggressive scent, and I always appreciate that experience. There is a very slight alcohol burn, as you can imagine with a bourbon registering 129 proof. However, it is minimal and you are quickly engulfed in enticing aromas of vanilla and oak mixed with some nuttiness.
The beauty of this nose is its very real presence on every sip, and that first nip gives you a clue that you are in for an unparalleled experience. The mouthfeel is exquisite as it gently coats the mouth and tongue with a light syrup feel. It is primarily a mid-mouth experience, as the tingling steadily moves to the tip of the tongue. The taste buds explode primarily with the flavor of vanilla strongly supported by light oak with some nuttiness undertones.
The finish is something to truly write home about. It’s long, intense and full and filled with a vanilla/oak spiciness. This is a bourbon that demands your full attention. Sip it slowly and focus on the experience. The 129 proof may scare off some occasional bourbon drinkers, but don’t hesitate to add small amounts of water (distilled) or even some ice.
Booker’s Toogie’s Invitation is well worth the suggested retail pricing is $59.99 and it’s worth every penny. I’ve found this beautiful bourbon on sale for $39.99, and believe it to be the very “best bang for the buck” on the market, or at least it will be while supplies last. Batches of Booker’s are limited editions, each onto their own, these days.