Review #122 Booker's 2021-01 Donohoe's Batch
Distillery: Jim beam
Age: 6 Years, 11 Months, 4 Days
Mashbill: 77% Corn, 13% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
BACKGROUND: Booker's is one of the longest running barrel proof whiskeys and comes from the world famous Jim Beam distillery. Booker's was first released in 1987 by then master distiller, Booker Noe who was the sixth generation of the Beam family. Booker Noe, grandson of the famous Jim Beam, started bottling uncut, unfiltered bourbon from barrels located in the “sweet spot” of their warehouse to give to family and friends as gifts. His product, aptly named “Booker’s,” was released as a small batch, cask strength bourbon. Each batch is accompanied by a unique name with a story. Booker's 2021-01 is named after retired Jim Beam worker and former NFL player Mike Donohoe. Mike played an integral part in the foundation of the Booker's line. Mike joined Jim Beam as a sales manager in Chicago after leaving the NFL after 7 years. While on a camping trip, Mike and then master distiller Booker Noe got along great and Booker invited Mike to his office when they returned. In his office, Booker offered Mike a glass of bourbon unique to any Jim Beam bourbon at that time; his 'secret' experimental whiskey that he only shared with close friends. A few years later Mike had the idea to give bottles of Booker's special stash away as holiday gifts to their most important distributors and industry partners. As Freddie Noe said, "With little time and almost no budget, Booker sourced wine bottles from a warehouse in Bardstown and wrote the labels himself to get the job done. Based on the hundreds of letters they received raving about that uncut, unfiltered whiskey, it’s safe to say the rest is Booker’s Bourbon history." Mike continued to play an integral part in helping build the Booker's brand and now he has a batch in honor of his role.
NOSE: The nose on this first release of 2021 for Booker' s is very rich and balanced without a punch from the proof. There are wonderful scents of clove, maple, roasted pecans, coca cola, almond extract, and barrel char. This is one of the better Booker's noses that we have smelled. (23/25)
PALATE: Booker's "Donohoe's Batch" 2021-01 has a rich, chewiness to it that is noticeable immediately. The main flavors that I picked up on was roasted peanuts and cinnamon spice. There are also rich caramelized brown sugar, oak sugars, and a bitter tang. This whiskey has a bold, chewy, and rich mouthfeel with a heavy spice bite that rounds out the sweeter notes. The bitter ending threw us for a loop though. It drinks like a slightly older whiskey than the 6 year age statement, more 8 - 10 years. (35/40)
FINISH: The finish is long and warm with notes of black pepper, cinnamon, and oak. It certainly does warm you right up. It left our mouth watering and craving another sip which is something that we love. (23/25)
VALUE: The SRP on Booker's went up to $80 and an MSRP of $100 which is getting pretty high up there. We think Booker's is really tasty but is getting pricey for a 6 year cask strength bourbon, especially when you can get a 12 year cask strength bourbon from Elijah Craig at $60. We think Booker's should be priced at around $60 but would pay up to SRP. (6/10)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Booker's "Donohoe's Batch" 2021-01 was an excellent first release for the Booker's brand and brings it back to the high praises it received in 2017/18. This has the potential to be one of the best bourbons of the year in our opinion. This is a really tasty and bold cask strength bourbon whiskey with classic Booker's/Jim Beam flavors. We strongly recommend you getting yourself a bottle if you see it near retail.
Similar & Slightly Better Whiskey: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A121
Similar & Equal Whiskey: Little Book Chapter 4
Similar & Slightly Worse Whiskey: Old Ezra 7
Tell us what you think and give us some feedback!
96-100: The perfect dram, juice of the gods
90-95: Near perfect, truly incredible whiskey
85-89: Amazing whiskey, will always try to keep a backup bottle of this
80-84: Very good, some minor flaws here or there
75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink, Will try and keep a bottle on the shelf
70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get this
60-69: Decent, would offer this up to non whiskey drinkers
50-59: Not my cup of tea
Below 50: Give away