Posts tagged ‘Booker’s’

Comparison Review: Booker’s vs. Noah’s Mill


 

I recently did a review of Blanton’s Original Single Barrel for a friend of mine, in which I concluded that Blanton’s was a good bourbon, but it wasn’t quite worth $50 a bottle.  A few people have asked me a valid question, “Is there any bourbon worth $50 a bottle?”  Of course, the answer is up to you.  However, to aid your journey, I’ve decided to do a comparison review of two bourbons that I believe are both worth $50 a bottle, Booker’s and Noah’s Mill.

Both Booker’s and Noah’s Mill are usually priced at about $50 a bottle or so.  They are also both high proof bourbons, with Noah’s Mill weighing in at 114.3 proof and Booker’s weighing in between 123 and 129 proof, depending on the batching.  They are also both small batch bourbons, meaning they are created from combining different barrels together before they are put in the bottle.

Booker’s is a bourbon from Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection (Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s), named after Booker Noe, James Beam’s grandson.  As I mentioned earlier, this bourbon is uncut, and bottled at the same proof it is in the barrel.  Booker’s is comprised of whiskeys aged between six and eight years, specifically from barrels placed in the center of the James Beam Distillery Warehouse.  Although it is not the most popular bourbon from the Small Batch Collection, it is definitely the best in my opinion.  Booker’s is done in very small batches, and it does vary from batch to batch.  The particular bottle I am reviewing is batch C05-A-12, aged 7 years, 5 months, bottled at 128.5 proof (64.25% abv).

On the nose, Booker’s reminds me of freshly baked cinnamon rolls.  The nose is sweet, complex, and powerful.  There are notes of brown sugar, apple pie, sweet oak, vanilla, toasted peanut butter, and light smoke.  On the palate, Booker’s is full-bodied, yet surprisingly drinkable.  Green apples, caramel, vanilla, charred oak, and some smoked fruits all blend together to form a brilliant mouth feel.  The finish is long and very warming, but it is also full of flavor, achieving great balance between the oak and the sweet sugars of caramel and vanilla.  In my opinion, Booker’s is one of the best whiskeys on the American market today.  It is full, complex, and powerful in both proof and flavor profile.  My grade: A-.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  This is brilliant bourbon, plain and simple.

Right next to Booker’s on the top shelf is Noah’s Mill, a 114.3 proof, small batch bourbon produced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers.  Noah’s Mill is made from a variety of whiskeys at different ages from different mash bills and from different distilleries.  Then, the whiskeys are blended and bottled to perfection by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers to create Noah’s Mill.

On the nose, Noah’s Mill can be a little shy, but give it a minute.  After sitting for a few, it will open up with a rich nose, displaying notes of toffee, caramel, and some roasted vanilla.  The palate is sweet and drying, with the sweetness of vanillas and caramels being bolstered by dried raisins and cranberries.  The finish is long and warming, just like Booker’s.  There is a good amount of rye spice balanced with sweet, warming toffee and caramel flavors.  In my opinion, Noah’s Mill is certainly deserving of its place on the top shelf.  My grade: B+.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  This is a wonderful, big, robust bourbon, it just doesn’t quite have the life that Booker’s has.

The one complaint that I have heard about both of these bourbons is that they vary significantly from batch to batch.  Unfortunately, that is just one of the perils of small batch bourbon.  Nevertheless, I have always found both of these bourbons to be fantastic whiskeys through and through.  In the end, I definitely give the edge to Booker’s, although Noah’s Mill is still one of my favorite whiskeys.  If I had $50 to spend on one bottle of bourbon, I would spend it on Booker’s with no hesitation.  But, the best way to find out is to drink these whiskeys and see which one works best for you.  Let it ride!

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The Top Ten Movie Characters to Drink Bourbon with

If you are anything like me, you’ve watched movies before where you have thought, “I would love to hang out with that character.”  I’ve often thought like that with drinking bourbon in mind, so here is my list of my top ten(ish) movie characters that I’d like to drink bourbon with.  Since the list is completely hypothetical, I’ve also tried to guess what bourbon I think the different characters on my list would drink.  For the record, I’m assuming the movie character is buying the bottle, not me, so I’m not necessarily sticking to value bourbons on this one.

10.  The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman) – Pirate Radio.  The Count is a rebel, with a certain attitude of reverence where it is needed.  Therefore, I believe The Count would be a great bourbon companion.  He can also tell some great stories.  The Count’s bourbon:  Woodford Reserve.  The Count lives at sea, so he has to drink something he can readily get his hands on, but I also believe that he knows a great bourbon when he sees it.  Woodford Reserve might be the best readily available bourbon on the market.

9.  Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) – The Lord of the Rings.  There are many characters from Lord of the Rings who would be good drinking companions, but the first scene at the Prancing Pony were we meet Strider convinces me that Strider/Aragorn drinks bourbon, and he drinks it neat.  Aragorn’s bourbon:  Eagle Rare 10 year Single Barrel.  It is a bourbon that packs more punch that you might expect.  It is not pretentious, but it knows it is great bourbon.

8.  The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) – The Man with No Name Trilogy.  A dangerous, but entertaining character, and definitely the person you want on your side during a gunfight.  The Man with No Name’s bourbon:  Wild Turkey 101.  It is rye-forward and in your face, plus its available almost everywhere for those who travel a lot.  I don’t see this cowboy going for the top shelf too often.

7.  William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) – Gangs of New York.  This is a dangerous choice because Bill the Butcher is a dangerous character.  However, he is rich, so he would probably pay for the drinks.  He has some crazy stories, but I would probably only want to drink with him once.  One thing is for sure, the Butcher drinks bourbon, and he is always an entertaining conversationalist.  The Butcher’s bourbon:  Booker’s.  It is a big bourbon that will put hair on your chest, ranging from 123 to 129 proof.  It has great flavor and complexity, but unlike other bourbons of Booker’s quality, Booker’s is pretty young (6 years aged), which suits the Butcher’s style.

6.  John “Doc” Holliday (Val Kilmer) – Tombstone.  Like Bill the Butcher, Doc Holliday would be much higher on my list of people to drink bourbon with if I was not so worried about being shot and killed when I drank with him.  Also like Bill the Butcher, Doc Holliday is always good conversation, full of brilliant one-liners, making him a very good bourbon companion.  Doc Holliday’s bourbon:  William Larue Weller.  I’ve got Doc drinking a bourbon that tastes great, but will also have the alcohol content to cure his tuberculosis.  Although William Weller is hard to get, I have a feeling that Doc might know a guy…

5.  Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) – Black Snake Moan.  The blues go well with the bourbon, so my favorite bluesman from film should be on my list of people to drink bourbon with.  I could sit for hours and listen to Lazarus play the blues (while we drank bourbon).    Lazarus’ bourbon:  Four Roses Yellow Label.  In the sultry Southern heat, a soft summer bourbon is necessary.  Lazarus is also a man who likes to keep things simple, which is why Four Roses would be the bourbon for him.

4.  Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) – The Lord of the Rings.  Seriously, who wouldn’t want to drink bourbon with a wizard who puffs a pipe and can blow three masted Spanish Galleons with the smoke?  Although, I have a suspicion that after he became Gandalf the White, he switched over to scotch.  Gandalf’s bourbon:  George T. Stagg.  It’s a big bourbon, with a huge flavor profile and a huge alcohol content, a bourbon fit for a wizard.

3.  Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) – Bull Durham.  Baseball and bourbon go very well together, indicated by the career minor leaguer, Crash Davis.  He is shown drinking whiskey several times in the film, including once while he is ironing his clothes in his underwear in the middle of his living room.  As the movie indicates, Crash Davis would have some great stories as well.  I would love to sit and discuss bourbon and baseball with Crash for hours.  Crash’s bourbon:  Jim Beam Black Label.  Crash Davis is a classic, old-school ball player, so I suspect he would drink something pretty standard.  He can put back the white label if he has to, but the 8 year Black Label is his favorite.

2.  Han Solo (Harrison Ford) – Star Wars.  Come on, everyone over the age of 21 who has ever watched Star Wars has wanted to drink with Han Solo.  Obviously, as a bourbon drinker, I am assuming that Han would have drank bourbon were it available to him (although the honest truth is that he probably would drink anything you put in front of him).  Han Solo’s bourbon:  Angel’s Envy.  Han Solo is an original.  He is smooth, with a dark side.  Angel’s Envy is a Kentucky straight bourbon that is finished in port wine barrels, giving it a universal drinkability rarely found in bourbon whiskey.  It is original just like Han Solo, himself.

1.  After much deliberation, the top spot on my list is a tie between two of my favorite Paul Newman characters: “Fast” Eddie Felson (The Color of Money) and Henry Gondorff (The Sting).  It is difficult to say whether I would rather drink bourbon while playing pool with Fast Eddie or while listening to Henry Gondorff’s stories about playing the big con.  Nevertheless, I would most like to drink bourbon with one of these two movie characters.  “Fast” Eddie’s bourbon:  Buffalo Trace.  He’s a value man, and there is no better value bourbon than Buffalo Trace.  Henry Gondorff’s bourbon:  Pappy Van Winkle 15 year.  It is hard to find, but it is might be the best bourbon money can buy.  Several bourbon connoisseurs have told me it is the best bourbon they’ve ever had, regardless of price.  Henry Gondorff likes the finer things in life, and if anyone can get Pappy Van Winkle, its Henry Gondorff.

Those are my favorite bourbon characters (and the bourbons I think they might drink), let me know how I did.  In the meantime, drink your bourbon, watch some good movies, and let it ride!