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Booker’s Bourbon Batches 2015 Ranked

Last updated Mar 27, 2021


by Matty Sims

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Booker’s Bourbon Batches 2015 are something special. I’ve said this before in other places but something special happened in 2015. It was a great year for bourbon releases. Big Man, Small Batch and Center Cut are all-time greats and the other batches could be the best bourbon released from a lot of other distilleries. There was a time just a few years ago where I could still trade for these in local groups for around $100 valuation. Those days are long gone which means my stash of 2015 Booker’s is running low.

Booker's Bourbon Batches 2015 Ranked
Batch #ProofAgeWax Notes
2015-06128.16 Years, 8 Months, 7 DaysNoe Secret
2015-051286 Years, 7 Months, 3 DaysMaw Maw's Batch
2015-041276 Years, 5 Months, 20 DaysOven Buster Batch
2015-03127.27 Years, 2 Months, 28 DaysCenter Cut
2015-02127.97 Years, 0 Months, 18 DaysDot's Batch
2015-01128.77 Years, 2 Months, 16 DaysBig Man, Small Batch


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#1 – 2015-01 Big Man, Small Batch

Booker’s Bourbon 2015-01 Big Man, Small Batch 5.31.40 PM

Booker's 2015-01Details
TypeSmall Batch
Age7 years, 2 months,16 days
CooperageNew, Charred Oak Barrels
Off the Still125 Proof
In the Barrel125 Proof
Proof128.7 Proof
DistilleryJames B. Beam Distilling
Clermont, KY
ProsComplex, Flavor Explosion
RatingPlatinum 98 out of 100 Points
InventoryBuy Without Hesitation

My collection of Booker’s now starts with this crown jewel — Booker’s 2015-01 Big Man, Small Batch. What I love about these old Booker’s is the way the wax is brittle. You can’t replicate that. The wax on newer batches peels away without resistance. In older batches, the wax puts up a fight breaking off into shards.

According to Distiller:

This is the first in a series of limited edition small batch bourbons from Booker’s, honoring founding distiller Booker Noe, who is featured in his rocking chair on the label with his dog Dot at his feet. Also called “Big Man, Small Batch,” this release is produced by Fred Noe, 7th generation Master Distiller at Beam. It’s batched from 7 different Beam rack houses, and like all of the Booker’s editions, it is uncut. Even the distiller’s literature suggests serving it with ice or cut with water.

This Booker’s didn’t disappoint on all fronts.

This is the inaugural batch of Booker’s bourbon with the current numbering sequence (e.g., the year followed by the batch 2015-01). It’s a bold statement of what bourbon whiskey can be. This whiskey has loooonnnnggggg legs. It’s a Jackson Pollock painting of bourbon droplets in my Glencairn. It’s deep, rich honey made from berries.

Nose – 98 out of 100 Points

I didn’t even put my nose in the glass, and I could smell rich, dark, burnt caramel with vanilla boba balls. It was a sensory smack in the face. Nose in the glass, I get cherries. Toasted marshmallow. Fresh summer corn. Caramel apple. It’s like all the wonderful smells of a summer fair.

It immediately made me think of the first fair my wife (then girlfriend) attended in Independence, KS. We shared a funnel cake and caramel apple. We held hands. We kissed. We laughed. I can’t stop smelling this bourbon whiskey. I also get baking spice undertones. Liquid complexity.

Taste – 98 out of 100 Points

It’s clean and crisp on the first sip then explodes with flavor. My first thought was of my wife’s apple pie which is baked with streusel and caramel sauce. My favorite part is the crispy edges where the caramel makes contact with the ceramic baking container.

The heat from 128.7 proof doesn’t overwhelm. I get a slight tingle on the top of my tongue like the slow heat of a Szechuan peppercorn. Warm baking spice covers the entire palate.

Finish – 98 out of 100 Points

The finish is a Kentucky Hug at its finest. Warms you from the inside out with a full assault of baking spices and burnt caramel.

Verdict – Platinum 98 out of 100 Points

Big Man, Small Batch is the best a bourbon can get within the traditional flavor profile. It’s complex, balanced, and just damn delicious. I wish I had a full barrel of this batch. This Booker’s batch has moved into my top 5 bourbons (I’ll make an official list someday). That’s rarified air.

#2 – 2015-03 Center Cut

Center Cut 2015-03

Center Cut 2015-03Details
TypeSmall Batch
Age7 years, 2 months,28 Days
CooperageNew, Charred Oak Barrels
Off the Still125 Proof
In the Barrel125 Proof
Proof127.2 Proof
Type5th Floor – Temperature, humidity, and sunlight produce the perfect aging conditions
ProsConsistent Flavor Profile
ConsLacks Complexity and Flavor Punch
RatingGold 93 out of 100 Points
InventoryBuy Without Hesitation

Center Cut is another phenomenal Booker’s batch. Something was in the water and corn when these 2015 bourbons were distilled and barreled. Center Cut was the fourth roundtable batch and the last roundtable with Booker Noe (previous roundtables included C07-B-7, 2013-06, and 2014-06). Chuck Cowdery, Geoff Kleinman, John McCarthy, Jack Robertiello, Tony Sachs, and chef Coby Ming participated. It’s also a reference to Booker’s favorite part of the warehouse which was the 5th floor (smack dab in the center) and his love of center cut meats smoked in his smokehouse.

Nose – 93 out of 100 Points

Vanilla cinnamon candied walnuts paired with charred oak and caramel are the prominent players.

Taste – 93 out of 100 Points

Cinnamon cream cheese and maple syrup front palate. Black pepper mid-palate with a lingering spice. There’s a savory smoked meats undercurrent as well.

Finish – 93 out of 100 Points

Long with more roasted nuts, cinnamon, and oak.

Verdict – Gold 93 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Gold Medal

This batch is so delicious and so different from 2015-01. These batches show the range of Booker’s bourbon.

#3 – 2015-04 Oven Buster

Over Buster 2015-04

Over Buster is nostalgic for me. It was the first-ever Booker’s batch I tasted. All I knew of Jim Beam was their white label. I went to a tasting at a new local group and saw Booker’s out. The guy who invited me was a Booker’s evangelist. He’d make trips to KY every year for work and stock up because it was cheaper than in SC. Remember Doctor Strange having his out of body experience after meeting The Ancient One? That was my first experience with Booker’s bourbon. It just slapped me in the face with flavor.

Full review coming soon

#4 – 2015-05 Maw Maw’s Batch

2015-05 Maw Maw's Batch

Nose – 92 out of 100 Points

Gorgeous caramel, vanilla, and barrel char with baking spice as a counterbalance.

Taste – 90 out of 100 Points

Szechuan pepper on tip of the tongue followed by luxurious caramel and vanilla. It’s simple but delicious. More spice at the back and the palate is rounded out by barrel char.

Finish – 89 out of 100 Points

The finish is medium to long with caramel, vanilla, and spice.

Verdict – Silver 90.3 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

#4 – 2015-06 Noe Secret

2015-06 Noe Secret

Nose – 87 out of 100 Points

This nose packs up a punch. Alcohol hits my nose first but moves over for aromas of sweet cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and barrel char. I also get a light caramel.

Taste – 86 out of 100 Points

The palate is caramel corn and vanilla, followed by peanuts. The back of the palate is tannic oak. I don’t love the bitter oak at the back. Just not enough balance to make it enjoyable.

Finish – 89 out of 100 Points

The finish is long with heat, sweat, and oak. It’s more balanced than the palate.

Verdict – Silver 87.3 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

#6 – 2015-02 Dot’s Batch

2015-02 Dot’s Batch

Booker’s iconic pup also graced the label of Big Man, Small Batch, and sits next to his statue in Clermont.

Full review coming soon

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Why trust The Bourbon Bard?

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is a storyteller who loves bourbon. He has been drinking and studying whiskey for over 10 years. He has also been featured on sites like Bourbon Sippers, Explore Whiskey, and Inside Hook, partnered with dozens of distilleries, and reviewed hundreds of whiskeys.
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