Booker’s Bourbon Review

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4.2/5 - (154 votes)

Proof: 121 proof
Age: 6 – 8 years
Distillery: James “Jim” Beam Distillery (Clermont, Kentucky)
Master Distiller: Fred Noe
Season: Winter


Everyone knows how I feel about Booker’s bourbon, so this review may be a little biased. If you disagree, feel free to leave us your independent review in the comments section below. Booker’s is the brainchild of Frederick Booker Noe, the legendary 6th generation Master Distiller at Jim Beam Distillery, and was released after being kept away from the public for years back in 1992 and single-handedly reinvigorated the bourbon industry. (Allegedly, Booker’s had been around since 1987, but he only shared it with friends and family.)

The label itself is a reproduction of Booker’s hand-written message detailing what makes his namesake so special. Even though he passed in 2004, Booker’s bourbon remains undiluted, unfiltered and, in Mr. Noe’s terms, ”straight from the barrel,” the way bourbon used to be. Today, Booker’s is the highest proof bourbon in the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection.

The awards speak for themselves:

  • 95/100 Wine Enthusiast Rating
  • Double Gold 2007 San Fransisco World Spirits Competition
  • Double Gold 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • Wine Enthusiast’s Gold Medal Bourbon award
  • 89/100 points 2005 at


Don’t let the high proof scare you away – Booker’s is easy to drink, and even novice bourbon enthusiasts can appreciate the craftsmanship. But you must respect the Booker’s – the burn is there and will put you back in your place if you get too eager.

The nose the first warning that presents itself – char, sulfur, and ethyl…almost like a volcano with a hint of vanilla. As if the Booker’s can sense my apprehension, it transforms its nose on the second whiff into leather and citrus. Some have told me that they didn’t get alcohol on the nose at first whiff. I don’t know what the hell they were smelling, but it is definitely there. On third whiff there is heavy vanilla and some nice spice. I have had many a Booker’s in my day, and every whiff and sip is just a little different from the others.

Booker’s is crafted with a high corn mash bill (70+%) with the remainder being somewhere around 15% rye. It shows everywhere in the taste. Again, Booker’s bourbon should be respected and sipped with care, as the first sip can be a little hot. Despite the high proof, the heat is nowhere near as fierce as one would expect, and instead I am greeted with honey and happiness. Vanilla and orange peel roll in behind leather and oak. Leather, pecan, honey and cherry flavors make for a superior tasting experience.

The finish is long, dry, and leaves my gums tingly. The spice kick from the rye lasts…and lasts…and lasts…and you get the point. Its heavy, creamy mouth-feel leaves you with a smile on your face long after you have swallowed. You get your money’s worth in the finish.

The burn, the long finish, and the deep flavors makes Booker’s my favorite winter time warmup bourbon. I have also called it my “bad day bourbon”, because whatever problems you were having that day, you wont remember after a three-finger pour!



With its complex nose, its deep flavors, its excellent mouth feel, and its long lasting finish, you truly get your moneys worth with Booker’s bourbon. Plus it comes in a kick-ass box. I give this bourbon an A+.

Even though a typical bottle only runs $60, you still want to hide it from your friends and family. They either wont appreciate it for the barrel-strength bourbon that it is, or they wont leave until they have drained your bottle dry. Both are bad things.

Find out how we grade bourbons.  Booker’s introduced me to the world of bourbon. It wasn’t the first bourbon I ever had (Wild Turkey holds that distinction) but it was the first I fell in love with.

Have you tried Bookers Bourbon?  Don’t like our reviews? Let us know what you think by leaving your own review below!