Barrel Proof | Best Bourbons | Booker's | James B. Beam Distilling Co | Review | Small Batch

Booker’s Bourbon Batches 2018 Ranked

Dec 23, 2020

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

The Booker’s Bourbon Batches 2018 were the 2014 Detroit Pistons of Booker’s releases. Solid team and taken together championship level. The sum was better than the parts though. Does that even make sense with bourbon? I think so. If my analogy stands, Booker’s 30th Anniversary was the Rasheed Wallace of 2018. It joined the other batches at the end of the year and pushed them over the top.

Booker’s 30th came with no lack of fanfare. The original release was announced as a 16-year-old bourbon but later changed to a blend of 70 percent 9-year-old and 30 percent 16-year-old bourbon. People were, to say the least, salty. I’m less skeptical than most especially when it comes to Fred Noe and Booker’s. He cares way too much about his dad’s legacy to money grab. I can’t imagine any other reason other than the taste that the 9-year-old bourbon was added. In Fred’s own words:

Instead of a standalone 16-year-old bourbon — as I had originally planned and communicated — this limited time offering will now feature a mingling of uncut, unfiltered 9-year-old bourbon and uncut, unfiltered 16-year-old bourbon. Presented on its own, I found the oak notes from the 16-year-old whiskey overpowered the flavors of vanilla that are so characteristic of every Booker’s release. My son Freddie agreed, too. So, I made the call a couple weeks ago to scrap our original plans and change up the liquid. Because, at the end of the day, honoring Dad and keeping his Booker’s just the way he would have liked it is something that I won’t compromise on.

At the end of the day, all I care about is what it tasted like. Booker’s 30 didn’t disappoint as you can see because it topped my favorite Booker’s releases from 2018.

Booker's Bourbon Batches 2018 Ranked
Batch #ProofAgeWax Notes
Limited Edition125.816-year and 9-year30th Anniversary
2018-041286 Years, 8 Months, 7 DaysKitchen Table
2018-03126.76 Years, 4 Months, 12 DaysKentucky Chew
2018-02128.86 Years, 2 Months, 10 DaysBackyard BBQ
2018-01127.46 Years, 3 Months, 14 DaysKathleen's Batch


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#1 – Booker’s 30th Anniversary

Booker’s 30 is superb — with Booker’s signature flavors magnified with the 16-year-old bourbon in the batch.

Nose – 95 out of 100 Points

The nose is fantastic with caramel corn and butterscotch playing the lead. It also lets you know it’s a barrel proof bourbon, so you do get some alcohol. Don’t forget to let it breathe for a minute before going all in.

Taste – 95 out of 100 Points

That luscious Booker’s caramel came to play with a great buttery mouthfeel, sweet corn, and just a pop of tart, early fall apples.

Finish – 95 out of 100 Points

This finish has got some heat. The spice is on a cross-country road trip. And it ain’t stop.

Verdict – Gold 95 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Gold Medal

#2 – 2018-01 Kathleen’s Batch

2018-01 Kathleen's Batch

This release comes in at number two because of the unusual amount of red fruit I tasted. It’s one of my favorite flavors as added complexity in bourbon and combined with Booker’s signature caramel and spice it was perfection. What’s more, this was drinkable. We cracked a bottled on a cool fall night at a friend’s and his wife who doesn’t usually drink bourbon was enjoying this neat — no idea of the proof.

Nose – 94 out of 100 Points

Full-on rich caramel, vanilla, and berry-made honey. Bolstered by rye and baking spice. This Booker’s Batch is a street fighter. You can tell it’s uncut.

Taste – 93 out of 100 Points

Spicy, dark caramel that you can just chew on for days. Charred oak with roasted peanuts hit on the mid-palate with a pop of vanilla at the back. The spice at the front lingers on the palate through the drinking experience but it’s not nuclear hot. It’s perfectly balanced.

Finish – 93 out of 100 Points

The finish is long with brown sugar, fresh oak, and charred baking spice closing out the drinking experience.

Verdict – Gold 93.3 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Gold Medal

#3 – 2018-03 Kentucky Chew

2018-03 Kentucky Chew

Nose – 91 out of 100 Points

This nose demonstrates what Booker’s does best. Classic bourbon flavors amped up with depth, complexity, and balance. This nose offers caramel, vanilla, sweet cinnamon, nutmeg, and a gentle smokey charred oak.

Taste – 92 out of 100 Points

Kentucky chew is a full-bodied bourbon with caramel notes all day. Warming baking spice balances out the sweetness from the caramel and pops of vanilla. Smokey charred oak and leather add complexity to the palate of a more classic bourbon profile.

Finish – 92 out of 100 Points

The finish just pleasantly sits on your chest with a delicate balance of caramel, charred oak, and a hint of baking spices.

Verdict – Silver 91.6 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

This is a sneaky good batch of Booker’s. It’s not one you’ll hear a lot of buzz about like a Center Cut or Country Ham. If you can find one, buy it. You’d be surprised how often I come across old batches of Booker’s sitting on liquor store shelves.

#4 – 2018-04 Kitchen Table

2018-04 Kitchen Table

Nose – 89 out of 100 Points

The nose is savory with smoky, toasted peanuts and leather. I also get nice honey and stewed dark fruit. The more time I spent nose in the glass the more the aromas grew on me.

Taste – 88 out of 100 Points

A nice interplay with honey and caramel pops on the palate followed the charred oak that’s a bit tannic and black pepper on the back of the palate.

Finish – 87 out of 100 Points

The finish is medium to long and oaky. More toasted peanuts covered in a light caramel. It’s missing balance and complexity.

Verdict – Silver 88 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

#5 – 2018-02 Backyard BBQ

Full review coming soon

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About Matty Sims

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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