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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Booker's, the billionaire's bourbon, batch C05-A-12

There seems to have been two versions of batch C05-A-12. One is the bottling I'm reviewing today, aged 7 years 1 month and weighing in at 65.0%abv, possibly specific to the US market. Then there's one that's aged 7 years 5 months, with a 64.25%abv which I've seen on European sites. If any of you brilliant bourbon boyos know the story behind that, please weigh in via the comment section below.

Here's what I've gleaned from the internets about this batch.
--The 'C' means it's from Beam's Clermont distillery and/or warehouses.
--The '05' refers to the year this stuff was distilled and barreled, as in 2005.
--The '12' represents the number of dead rats they found in the barrels when blending this batch. There were actually 11 and a half, but because Booker didn't "do decimals", the company rounds up.
--The 'A' stands for Anthropophagus, the Joe D'amato classic wherein George Eastman eats a fetus and then his own intestines. A metaphor.

Bottle shot
Owner: Beam Suntory
Brand: Booker's
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery: Jim Beam Distillery
Location: Clermont, Kentucky
Mash Bill: 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley (probably)
Age: 7 years, 1 month
Batch: C05-A-12
Alcohol by volume: 65.0% ABV

Berry and cherry candy on the nose. Walnuts. OAK. Chambord. Floral perfume, little bits of vanilla and caramel corn. Very berried on the palate too, like lollipops. Chili pepper heat. Bell peppers too. Very sweet and grapey. A hint of peanuts. The most controlled wood content I've experienced in a Booker's, though that's not saying much. The finish goes corny. Some tart fruit in the back. Sweet and smoky. And here comes the burnt bitter oak note I always find (and wish I didn't) in Booker's.

WITH WATER (~53.5%abv, Baker's level)
The nose gets more floral and more vanilla-ed. Hard toffee candy. Salt water taffy. The water has washed away most of the fruit in the palate. Feels woodier and hotter. Oooh, and bitterer. Medicinal. Maybe some hard cheese. The finish is bitter, woody, saccharine.

I'll start with the positives. This is the best Booker's batch I've had thus far. The neat palate is palatable, but the nose is by far the highlight throughout.

As mentioned in the notes, I always find an off-putting hot bitter wood note in Booker's that's dialed up to a degree I haven't found in any other major (non-crafty) high proof bourbon, nor any other Beam product. When neat, this batch avoids this note until late in the finish. When proofed down it fills the finish and sneaks into the palate. In fact this batch tastes awful when water is added. It's decent when neat and the nose never fails. But I still can't see myself even paying the old price for it when Beam has other better cheaper products.

Availability - 
This batch is probably long gone

Pricing - Booker's in general can still be found for $40, though it averages around $60 countrywide (Note: This is before the price increase hits.)
Rating - 81 (neat only, proofing it down drops it ~20 points)

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