Bookers 2023-02 Apprentice Batch Review

Time for a pour of Bookers 2023-02 Apprentice Batch and write a review! This is the second release of four annual batches, with Charlie’s Batch being the first one of 2023. This one seems to be a love/hate release, with some people loving it and others wishing they had passed on the purchase.

Inspired by a 200-year-old family tradition, Booker’s Bourbon is a unique and exceptional whiskey that stands out in the world of spirits. What sets it apart is its blending of uncut and unfiltered barrels.

The story behind Booker’s Bourbon begins with Sixth Generation Beam Master Distiller, Booker Noe. As a tribute to his close friends and family, Booker created this special bourbon as a Christmas gift. He carefully selected barrels from the center-cut of the rack house, where the aging process imparts rich flavors and complexity.

By bottling this bourbon uncut and unfiltered, Booker ensured that every sip delivers an authentic taste experience. This means that no water or other additives are used to dilute or alter its flavor profile. The result is a robust and intense whiskey that captures the essence of traditional craftsmanship.

Booker’s Bourbon has gained recognition for its bold flavors, high proof, and handcrafted quality.

Series: Booker’s 2023 Batches
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 7 yrs, 1 mo, 2 days
Proof: 125.5
Proof Designation: Barrel Proof
Batch Designation: Small Batch
Filtered Status: Non-Chill Filtered
Mash bill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Distillery: James B. Beam Distilling Co.
Company: Beam Suntory, Inc.
Distilled/Aging Location: Clermont, Kentucky
MSRP: $90 (2023)
Availability: Low-Hard to Find
Batch Info:
7% came from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse H
9% came from the 4th floor of 7-story warehouse W
11% came from the 4th floor of 7-story warehouse 1
18% came from the 4th floor of 7-story warehouse O
19% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse G
36% came from the 4th floor of 7-story warehouse Z

Bookers 2023-02 Apprentice Batch
Bookers 2023-02 Apprentice Batch Review

My tasting reviews are unique in that I include the notes of several well-known whiskey critics. The hope is that this format will help me and others to explore and expand their tasting experience. After you have taken your own tasting notes, read the reviews and see if there is a flavor note that others discerned that now you can detect as well.

Nose

Caramel, a hint of butterscotch, old oak, chocolate, tobacco.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: A pretty faint nose, toasted peanuts, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, very peanut-forward with that classic Booker’s nuttiness, like the peanuts smell almost a little bit stale.

Whiskey Raiders: Huge peanut notes, plus apple, pear and some fig. Lots of fruits, which is unusual for a Booker’s release. The peanut is more present than usual, but the introduction of stone fruit on the nose is unusual and interesting.

Drink Hacker: The first dominant note is menthol, and hiding beneath that are layers of dark caramel, hot cocoa, and clove-laden tea. Medicinal apple is also present, though fruity notes are somewhat subdued by the strong ethanol kick.

Palate

Baking spices, oak, leather, mild caramel & brown sugar, cloves, nutmeg, a grassy note, toasted pecans, dark fruit. It is viscous on the tongue with complex flavors that are almost, but not quite, balanced. Dry and a little bitter. Not a fan.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: What is that flavor?! I am not digging this one at all. It has the vanilla, the peanut note, and something like a sour orange on the back palate, like a bitter citrus note. There is a quick burst of flavor. It tastes young, even though it is 7 years old. It’s so citrus-forward forward it almost reminds me of an Old Granddad 114. But it is easy to drink, it seems lower than 125.5 proof. It has a sweet tea aspect. I don’t like it.

Whiskey Raiders: Heavy ethanol on the palate, sharp and prickly on the tongue. This delivers the most heat I’ve had on a Booker’s in years. Apples, pears, brown sugar, a kick of oak, then back to hot and punchy.

Drink Hacker: A thick, lasting wave of vanilla, reminiscent of melted ice cream, as well as medjool dates and blackcurrant. Elements of lightly roasted nuts complete the midpalate, interestingly leaning a bit more toward walnut or pecan than classic Beam peanut.

Finish

Medium-long finish, caramel, brown sugar, oak, something sour at the end. and a bitterness that lingers.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: The sour-bitter notes linger.

Whiskey Raiders: Long and once again hot, punchy and just oozing with ethanol. The fruit is present and fun, but it’s hard to see through with this much ethanol on the finish.

Drink Hacker: The finish here is lengthy, with sweetness and alcohol dancing down from the back of the tongue.

The Burn

4 out of 5. This means that the burn from the alcohol is a bit lower (5% to 9%) than what I would expect it to be. I would guess this to be around 115 proof, not 125.5 proof.

Summary

After reading some of the other reviewers I had to go back and taste again because reviews went from “sweet” to “sour-bitter”. It seems complex but out of balance, with the sweet/sour/bitter/spicy flavors kind of fighting each other for attention. I would try it at a bar but I would not purchase it again.

Rating

The higher the score the better the whiskey is in my opinion. For reference, my best rated bottle so far is the George T. Stagg 2022 (138.7p) with a score of 9.7.

Score TypeScoreExamples
Likability Score6.41.0 – 10.0
Availability Score21-Rare, 2-Hard to Find, 3-A Little Hunting, 4-Easy to Find
Notes and History

From the Booker’s Story Card:
This batch pays homage to the early days of my dad Booker Noe’s career – far before he was the Sixth Generation Master Distiller – when he first learned the art of making bourbon under the guidance of his cousin Carl Beam.

When Booker started working at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont in 1952, Carl became like a mentor to him. Back then, they didn’t have official titles like Master Distiller, but everyone knew Carl was in charge. He didn’t put up with any foolishness and made sure Booker was set straight. But even if Booker did mess around sometimes, he was a fast learner and was ready to be put to work, and that quickly got him Carl’s approval.

Two years after Booker started, we purchased a distillery in Boston, KY to increase our production capabilities. Carl and Booker worked closely together to get it up and running, and eventually, Carl handed the reins over to Booker. This is where he was able to experiment and master the bourbon-making process, and later on, the location was renamed the Booker Noe Distillery.

Carl showed Booker the ropes at the distillery, but from there, his approach was sink or swim and it was just the push Booker needed. His apprenticeship under Carl helped him become the Master Distiller and legendary innovator we all remember him as today.

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Steve Hicks
1 month ago

Great review! I personally feel this batch gets a bum rap. I’m a fan

Kris
1 month ago

This was my first Bookers and I loved it.

Omar Williams
1 month ago

Great Review!! It was really detailed and I really enjoyed learning the history. This is a really cool website.

Ryan
1 month ago

I appreciate this review format, helpful to have multiple takes compiled to compare!

Brian lamb
1 month ago

Thank you for your review. Was very helpful in knowing if I should open this bottle

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