Review: Baker's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

Baker's 2.jpg
7 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
~75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Distiller Jim Beam (Clermont, Kentucky)

For whatever reason, this bourbon is the one which I seem to hear about the least of the bourbons in the Jim Beam small batch collection. It’s odd, perhaps, because it is a solid bourbon, and the price is good. It comes in at 53.5%, is aged 7 years, and is fairly available. Each bottle has a batch number on it – this reviewed batch is B-90-001.

The bourbon itself is named after Baker Beam, the grand nephew of Jim Beam, and was his creation supposedly - though people working at Beam said that Booker just needed a name for a whisky he wanted to release. The mashbill has about 15% rye in it, with the rest being filled out mostly with corn. This mashbill is the same as for most Jim Beam bourbons – White Label, Black Label, Knob Creek, and Booker’s.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: B-90-001

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Now there’s a nose! Rich, with caramel, spice, dried apricot, chocolate, and dried corn – and it develops nicely as the richness unfolds to custard, vanilla, and light pepper and smoke. It is well integrated all around and very enjoyable to unpack.

Taste: Sweet and very rich. Corn, oak, dried fruits, and vanilla – slowly evolving to some rich corn and earthiness with the thick body and tannins all working to create the body around those flavours. It is a “slow” palate as I would say – there is good movement, and the flavour keeps developing and changing as it is in your mouth. The thickness/body you can immediately recognize from the first pour, and you certainly feel it on the palate. I find the alcohol (53.5%) to be just about right to sip – I have experimented with water but I prefer this one at full strength.

Finish: A nice big finish, with spice, rich corn, caramel, chocolate and oak. The body, length, and even acidity are all well balanced. A wonderful blend of corn and oak on this finish.

This is a really nice bourbon. It doesn’t seem that hot, betraying the fact that it comes in at 53.5%. I like this one even more than Booker’s, generally! I quite like the richness, and it isn’t a spice bomb but it is well balanced and deep.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. At 65$ CAD, when I got this, it was a very solid buy against other tastes in this price range.

Review (2020)

  • Batch: I suppose they are all B-90-001

  • Bottling Code:  N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

I always liked Baker’s quite a bit – perhaps the best of the Jim Beam small batch collection, other than, perhaps, Booker’s (depending on the batch). But, it’s been some time and the price has (sadly) jumped up significantly enough that I don’t buy this one very often anymore. It is also getting somewhat difficult to find in my neck of the woods.

 Herbal, nutty, and rich on the nose with lots of spices and a good dose of dried fruit, caramel, and almond. The palate is rich and fruity, with a good dose of oak and a nice oiliness. The fruity character works so well with the nuts, the baking spice, and the oak. It has a really great depth to it, and isn’t as hot as a lot of other Beam’s (even the nicer ones) at 53.5%. The finish is full of spice and oak.

It's nice, but not as nice as the last batch. For whatever reason, I thought that was absolutely terrific. This is just very good.

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $80.