By Debbie Shocair
I hold tremendous respect for the Beam family and for Booker’s Bourbon, the unfiltered and uncut expression of the Beam Small Batch Collection inaugurated twenty years ago. Booker’s has changed over that time, and now comes in discrete batches.
Fred Noe, 7th generation master distiller for Beam, has selected Booker’s Bluegill Creek, the fourth release in the 2016 Batch Collection expressions of Booker’s, from barrels in four different rack houses, and the result is a fine bourbon, still uncut and unfiltered. This is a bourbon for the whiskey lover who appreciates a fine bourbon that isn’t overtly sweet. Booker’s “BC” is bottled at a hefty 64% (128 proof) after being matured all of 6 years, 5 months, and 28 days.
Fred Noe named this particular expression for the time he spent with his father, Booker Noe, fishing for bluegill. A lovable pastime, certainly. From a line known for being robust and as one of the more heavily-bodied whiskeys around, it’s a fine tribute to a man who is a veritable legend in American whiskey.
On the nose, this heavy whiskey is all about grassiness and toasted grain, hints of vanilla and cinnamon falling low and noticeable only if you patiently hunt for them. Add a half teaspoon of water, and the grassiness jumps to the front, along with bright notes of hay fields. Again, for the whiskey lover who is looking for a bourbon that isn’t too sweet, this is the one to try.
The mouthfeel is noticeable at the tip and under the tongue. I have a habit of holding whiskey in my mouth far longer than most people do before I swallow it, but it allows me the full sensory experience of the amber gold at hand, and I enjoyed this one.
The medium-length finish began slightly acerbic, but quickly evolved to be all about warm toasted grain and toasted oak, before dark bread-y toast and low sweet vanilla notes took over.
For an uncut bourbon, Booker’s Bluegill Creek is surprisingly gentle (well, until about 12 minutes later…), and this particular expression is a true testament to the whiskey its namesake intended to bring to the whiskey lover at large. I graded it as a B+, but seriously cusping on A-.
Retailing at about $60, Booker’s Bluegill Creek is a bourbon within reach for any American Whiskey lover’s larder.