Booker Noe was the Master Distiller at Jim Beam Distillery from 1965-1992 and launched his eponymous whiskey in 1988 to start the Small Batch Bourbon Collection.
Booker's labels bear his name (his middle name, actually; he was born Frederick Booker Noe II) and his handwriting. Fred Noe, his son and seventh-generation Beam family distiller, is now releasing Booker's in batches using the same recipe. Booker's Bluegrass is the first 2016 small batch of this collection, but there's nothing small about its potency. This is powerful stuff, bottled at full strength after nearly seven years of aging at a whopping 127.9 proof. That means nearly two-thirds of each sweet sip is alcohol. While the original, full-bodied Booker's is nearly as strong, Basil Hayden's seems quaint at only 80 proof. But behind that intensity is a sweet, viscous vanilla and maple syrup flavor that will coat your mouth like adult candy. The alcohol is hidden on the nose, where one can detect vanilla and citrus. However, the alcohol burn is hard to ignore when sipped straight; don't be embarrassed to ask for water or rocks. The additives tame the alcohol and bring out hints of cocoa in the satisfying aftertaste. Booker's Bluegrass will warm you from the inside out.