Barrel Proof | Best Bourbons | Booker's | Review

Booker’s Bourbon Batches 2016 Ranked

Last updated Apr 18, 2021 | Published on Dec 25, 2020

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by Matty Sims

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Booker’s Bourbon Batches 2016 was another phenomenal year for Booker’s releases. The powerhouse was, as you might have expected, the Booker’s Rye but from top to bottom the pours were solid. 2016 was also the last year that Booker’s releases six batches per year. The original press release stated:

As we’ve previously shared, Booker’s Bourbon will experience supply constraints this year. As a result, we must reduce our batch releases to four per year. We apologize to anyone who is unable to locate the product in the future. Because of the rarity and high quality of this liquid, and our need to maintain our supply without sacrificing any production standards, we have decided to increase the price of Booker’s. We’ll be implementing the previously announced price increase over time, and in 2017 you can expect to see Booker’s on shelf for $69.99-$74.99.

We would like to thank our friends and fans for their ongoing support, and we promise to maintain the same quality standards that Booker demanded of his namesake bourbon despite our supply challenges.

You’ll also notice tucked in that release was an MSRP increase from $59.99 to upwards of $79.99. There was a bit of a stir because Beam first announced a price jump from $59.99 to $99.99 then later walked that back. Hindsight is 20/20 but it’s 2020 and I’m basically seeing Booker’s for right around $99.99 now. My guess the walk back was because of consumer pushback but the end goal was still to slowly increase the price. The end of a 2016 was a bit of a crazy storm for Booker’s as a brand.

Booker's Bourbon Batches 2016 Ranked
Batch #ProofAgeWax Notes
Limited Edition136.213 Years, 1 Months, 12 DaysGreen Rye "Big Time" Batch
2016-06127.86 Years, 10 Months, 2 DaysNoe Hard Times
2016-05129.76 Years, 7 Months, 23 DaysOff Your Rocker
2016-041286 Years, 5 Months, 28 DaysBluegill Creek
2016-031296 Years, 4 Months, 4 DaysToogie's Invitation
2016-02126.76 Years, 2 Months, 1 DayAnnis' Answer
2016-01127.96 Years, 11 Months, 0 DaysBluegrass Batch

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#1 – 2016 Limited Edition Big Time Batch (Green Rye)

Bookes Rye Limited Edition - Booker's Bourbon Batches 2016 Ranked

Several factors make this Rye legendary. First, it was the last premium-aged Rye Booker Noe laid down. He passed away in 2014 and these were barreled in 2013 in some of his favorite rickhouses. Second, it’s 13 years 1 month 12 Days old — make it double the average age of a Booker’s release. Third, the high proof point — Ryes with this much flavor over 130 proof are rare.

Booker’s Rye wasn’t an instant hit. It sat on shelves for a while before enthusiasts started tasting it and momentum built. Bill Thomas, Jack Rose Bar in Washington, D.C., said, “The funny thing about Booker’s Rye is that it got off to a slow start. I think we got nine bottles from the wholesaler because people weren’t into it. It sat on liquor store shelves for a while as well.”

As of 2018, no additional barrels had been laid down for a second batch of Booker’s Rye — which means it’s going to be a while for another batch.

Full Review Coming Soon

#2 – 2016-01 Bluegrass Batch

2016-01 Bluegrass Batch

Bluegrass Batch 2016-01Details
Age6 years 11 months old to 7 years 11 months old
Off the Still125 Proof
In the Barrel125 Proof
Proof127.9 Proof
ABV63.95%
Type7 different rickhouses
61% in 9 story rickhouses
34% in 7 story rickhouses
5% in 5 story rickhouses
Price$80
ProsComplex Palate
ConsIt brings the heat
RatingGold 94 out of 100 Points
InventoryBuy Without Hesitation

This batch pulled from 7 rickhouses. 61% of the barrels were stored in 9 story houses, 34% were stored in 7 story houses, and the remaining 5% were stored in a 5 story rack house. It is full-bodied with great viscosity and mouthfeel.

Nose – 93 out of 100 Points

Caramel, oak, leather, and tobacco

Taste – 96 out of 100 Points

The front of the palate is rich, barrel-aged vanilla with oaky undertones. I also get pleasant roasted corn nuts and long-aged tobacco.

Finish – 94 out of 100 Points

Heat and spice on the finish with subtle caramel and vanilla sweetness.

Verdict – Gold 94 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Gold Medal

The key to enjoying Booker’s or any other high proof bourbon is to let it breathe. I like to open with a partially sealed cork for 24 to 48 hours before I fully reseal and drink. 2016-01 opened up beautifully with some air.

#3 – 2016-03 Toogie’s Invitation

2016-03 Toogie's Invitation

Nose – 95 out of 100 Points

Grilled peaches with caramel drizzle and tangy goat cheese. I’m also picking up toasted coconut.

Taste – 92 out of 100 Points

Caramelized peaches hit you upfront followed by honey and Szechuan peppers. The mouthfeel is thick and luscious caramel.

Finish – 94 out of 100 Points

The finish is long, sweet, and spicy. I’m a huge fan of sweetness on a finish, especially when balanced with spice. The sweetness is honey, vanilla, and butterscotch followed by sweet cinnamon, charred oak, and red peppercorn.

Verdict – Gold 93.6 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Gold Medal

#4 – 2016-02 Annis’ Answer

2016-02 Annis' Answer

Nose – 94 out of 100 Points

Tart cherries (which is unusual for Booker’s) stand out. The caramel adds depth and richness. There’s some light baking spice, vanilla, and charred oak to round out the aromas. Balanced and bold flavors.

Taste – 93 out of 100 Points

The mouthfeel offers medium viscosity. As you chew, it’s stewed dark fruit followed by bright apple and baking spice. There’s also charred oak and white pepper.

Finish – 90 out of 100 Points

The finish is medium with more fruit, barrel chair, hints of tannic oak, and charred cinnamon. I just wanted more balance and depth on the finish.

Verdict – Silver 92.3 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

#5 – 2016-05 Off Your Rocker

2016-05 Off Your Rocker

Off Your Rocker 2016-05Details
TypeSmall Batch
Age6 years, 7 months, and 23 days
CooperageNew, Charred Oak Barrels
Off the Still125 Proof
In the Barrel125 Proof
Proof129.7 Proof
ABV64.85%
TypeBarrels located in four different rack houses with four different production dates
Price$80
ProsFantastic Nose
ConsMissing Punchy Finish
RatingSilver 92 out of 100 Points
InventoryBuy Without Hesitation

2016-05 has oily and thick with long legs and is amber-colored.

Nose – 95 out of 100 Points

The nose is leather, caramel, and baking spice. The leather is a nice surprise note and balanced wonderfully with the caramel.

Taste – 93 out of 100 Points

The caramel comes through at the front then peppery spice rolls through like a thunderstorm with lightning strikes of baking spice and oak.

Finish – 89 out of 100 Points

The spice doesn’t linger in the throat but fills the palate from mid to back.

Verdict – Silver 92 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

I enjoyed the leather note in the nose. But the finish was a disappointment. For such big, bold flavors the finish was a disappointment.

#5 – 2016-04 Bluegill Creek

2016-04 Bluegill Creek

Nose – 87 out of 100 Points

I get freshly cut timber along with sawdust. It smells like a hardware store. I also get smoky flavors as well. I also get just faint notes of caramel and vanilla. That’s about it. Not much complexity or depth.

Taste – 93 out of 100 Points

That one-dimensional oak and smoke turned into a gorgeous, sugary charred oak. Just imagine a campfire where a s’more fell onto one of the logs. I went back to the nose for several minutes to see if I missed anything. It still falls flat for more despite how delicious this palate is. I also get caramel and vanilla yogurt raisins. The back of the palate is a bit tannic with white pepper.

Finish – 90 out of 100 Points

Some sweet caramel corn notes followed more smoky, toasted oak and pepper.

Verdict – Silver 90 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

#6 – 2016-06 Noe Hard Times

2016-06 Noe Hard Times

Nose – 90 out of 100 Points

The aromas are quite different than a typical Booker’s. I’m picking up leather, wet oak, and subtle smoke. It reminds me of waking up in the morning at a campsite after a night of rain washed out the campfire. Barely hints of caramel sweetness.

Taste – 89 out of 100 Points

The palate presents creamy, sweet cinnamon followed by burnt oak, black pepper, and leather. I also get a pop of sweetness mid-palate like a buttery, woodsy vanilla sauce.

Finish – 88 out of 100 Points

The finish is long with oak as the prominent note and sweet cinnamon as the counterbalance.

Verdict – Silver 89 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

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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, Thrive Global and Inside Hook, partnered with dozens of distilleries, and reviewed hundreds of whiskeys. He has also created single barrel stickers for Bourbon Pursuit and Total Wine.
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