Booker's Bourbon is a small batch bourbon brand - indeed, their website claims to have invented the term "small batch" back in 1992. That claim seems implausible - although I suppose every marketing term has to get used for the first time at some stage - and of course even before then, distilleries were producing limited, cask strength bottlings.
Booker's 7 Year Old True Barrel Bourbon is the label on today's bottle, although it's unclear precisely which batch it is. The distillery themselves give each batch a distinct name and code, but while all the ones from 2015 (six so far) are around the 7 year old mark, none have exactly the same 63.7% ABV strength. So it's all a bit of a mystery!
The nose is obviously heavy with alcohol, although less than you may expect at such a high ABV. There is soft vanilla fudge and as it sits in the glass, a subtle wet wood dimension comes through along with just a hint of fresh lime juice.
Water opens the aromas up a lot - more oak, now lightly charred and with a lighter sugary sweetness.
In the mouth it starts with dark muscovado sugar, and just a touch of oak before the alcohol comes through and washes everything else away - it really is just too powerful to fully appreciate neat.
Watered, that initial sugar is a little muted. The oak still comes through, with a sightly nutty aspect as well. The finish is light but fantastically lingering, with a slightly acidic hit right at the back of the tongue - perhaps a touch of the lime juice from the aroma!
Not a subtle dram, but interesting and delicious - it feels like it's half-way between scotch and bourbon. 4 stars, but unless you're a braver soul than me, you'll want to water it some.
Many thanks to Master of Malt for providing their excellent Bourbon Advent Calendar this year.
This review was originally published 5th December, 2015. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.