Booker’s is a barrel strength bottling that comes from the Jim Beam distillery. The brand prides itself on being pure, barrel proof and unfiltered. The particular bottle I have is 127.7 proof and their website claims that they range from 121 proof to just over 131 proof. This bourbon comes in a quite standard bottle with a cork cap that has been dipped in black wax. The bottle is also sold in a small wooden box with an acrylic cover to protect the bottle itself, quite a nice display piece to store the bottle in, and helps to warn you how strong of a spirit you are about to pour.
On the nose, uncut, Booker’s is very clear with its strength, although there are some notes of oak, caramel, and vanilla; the alcohol really makes quite a burn and it is harder to pick out the more nuance flavor. Honestly though for such a strong whiskey, this still has quite a good aroma at full strength. The flavor again is quite powerful before cutting, but I get strong notes of oak, butterscotch, and pepper. Also there are some flavors of caramel and leather with still quite a bit of the smoky oak.
After adding a splash of water the scent mellows out quite a bit, making it much easier to take a big sniff and get all of the aroma. After the cut, some dark fruit aromas start to find their way out while the vanilla and caramel are still there, and the oak mellows out a little bit. The flavor also becomes much more balanced, with the buttery oak coming out even more. The aftertaste improves greatly, with the burn mellowing out some and the caramel notes sticking around along with some of the buttery oak char. Really this is one of the sweeter bourbons that I have had, although balanced so that the sweetness is not a bad thing at all
Overall I would rank Booker’s high on my list of bourbons after the addition of water this is a great example of a small batch bourbon. Well rounded with some great nuance flavors, although initially the high proof can be intimidating, give Booker’s a shot and you will not find it scary at all.