Quitting my job might have been the best thing that I have ever done with my life. I have divided my days equally between drinking and napping. Is this what retirement is like? I feel like I could win a gold medal if retirement ever becomes an olympic event. As I was leaving, my boss handed me a bottle of Booker’s Bourbon as a going away present even though the day before he had given me a very nice bottle of Carlisle Zinfandel. It’s a pretty good way to leave a job, stocked with booze. I couldn’t wait to crack this bottle of Booker’s after lusting after it at the liquor store for a long time. I was making oven-baked pork ribs so it seemed like the perfect time to have a fully southern meal with some bourbon. Booker’s is “The only bourbon bottled straight from the barrel. Uncut and unfiltered.” Which is sneaky I think because it conjures and image of an old, southern man with a long white beard and a corn cob pipe, a tattered hat and suspenders filling each bottle by hand with a funnel. But you’ll notice it says nothing about blending. They certainly must blend a lot of barrels together to get a consistent product. Which is totally fine and I think makes for a more interesting product because each barrel is going to be a little different. I know that Jim Beam’s (the producer of Booker’s) barrel house is actually quite sophisticated and rotates barrels all over the barn, up and down floors, from south-facing to north-facing walls so they all age evenly. Yes, they are concerned with the microclimates inside of a barn. But as sophisticated as it may be, there are still a good deal of variables present barrel to barrel and blending it is probably a good idea. There is nothing wrong with this process, I just think it is some sneaky advertising they are doing.
The bourbon itself is damn good. DAMN good. All the flavors present are expressive and it is exactly what I want a bourbon to taste like plus all the volumes are set to 11. This stuff will definitely put lead in your pencil. It has a nice smokey flavor in the background but the main notes to me are vanilla and a creamy sweetness. I don’t get as much of the tobacco/dark flavors as I would like to see but with a bourbon, I don’t want them to be the main players. I know a lot of people don’t like a bourbon that is too sweet, I happen to really enjoy a sweeter whiskey but I know some whiskey drinkers turn their nose up at it. Makers 46, for example, I think is a fantastic bourbon and a great value but I know this is one people commonly think has crossed the line for sweetness. Booker’s is sweet, which I love, but that sweetness is cut by the alcohol content. By the way, did I mention this stuff is 62.95% alcohol? If you are looking to get into bourbon, don’t start with this one. It’s pretty gnarly hooch. Normally, I would be really turned off by that but in this case it happens to actually work so well as part of the flavor profile that I actually like it. I will admit that when I tried to drink some neat, it was a really close battle but I think in the end, I won. It is some strong stuff, folks.
It’s a great addition to the bar but isn’t an everyday whiskey. It’s challenging. It’s the kind of bourbon I want to drink if my activity is drinking bourbon. What I mean is, sometimes I just want to sip on something after work or after dinner and relax and I do enjoy it but I am not focused on it. Booker’s does not allow you to ignore it. Every time you try to ignore it, you get punched in the face by it. It’s like music. Sometimes you just want to throw on some tunes and ignore it and have a conversation with friends or goof around online. But some music just begs to be listened to with your whole body. I think I’ll hang on to this bottle and only bring it out when I am feeling brave.
This stuff is available everywhere and runs around $60 a bottle. That seems like a lot, and is for an everyday whiskey but this isn’t an everyday whiskey. It’s special. I was just having this conversation with one of my best friends that, while people think $60 or so is a lot for a bottle of whiskey, it is totally different than buying a bottle of wine. You get a lot of drinks out of a bottle of whiskey so it isn’t just a one day experience. It’s an affordable luxury. I don’t think I’ll ever afford a Ferrari or a vacation house in the south of France, but I can budget for an incredible bottle of whiskey (within reason). Whiskey is like anything else. You can spend as much as you want on it. There are bottles that are $8000 but that is just silly. But you can buy a $150 bottle to mark a special occasion and not bankrupt yourself. I think that is what this blog is all about. Affordable luxury and treating yourself well.