Last week I picked up my first ever bottle of Baker’s. Previously, I’d always passed on it having sampled Booker’s, which I reckoned to be its bigger, stronger cousin.
Was I right? Well, yes and no. Both Baker’s and Booker’s come from the small batch offerings of Jim Beam (well, Beam Suntory). And, from the outset, I have to point out that both are great pours.
At 107 proof, Baker’s is not as strong on the alcohol level as Booker’s. I like my high proofs, but a higher proof doesn’t always mean a better Bourbon or whiskey.
I happened to be in Belfast last week, so I popped into The Vineyard – for me, the best off licence in Northern Ireland, with as knowledgeable a staff to match their wonderful range.
Baker’s was there staring me down, so I had to finally give in, and man am I glad I did! It’s a lovely, lovely pour.
NOSE: Vanilla, oak, rye spice and smooth caramel are to the fore. It then settles into a baking aroma, reminiscent of being in the kitchen as a young lad when mum was baking. To make it even better, there’s also a candy shop, candy floss note. Note too sweet, but more on the rich side.
Let it sit a while, a note of black pepper comes through, but it’s just a pinch. However, what really make the nose on this is that vanilla, oak and rye spice. The rest blends in with it nicely. Super nose.
PALATE: Nice heat and flavour. The nose gives no hint of the burst of heat the palate will experience, but it’s not a harsh heat. It’s a nice, rich and full-bodied heat. Oak, coffee and vanilla surf in on the crest of the that before coffee and char come through more on the finish. In the midst of all that, there’s also a burst of orange peel. It pops up., then clears off. But it leaves its mark. What really adds to this is the rich, creamy and even buttery feel in your mouth.
OVERALL: A really lovely pour with lots going on. The aromas promise much on the flavour front and it doesn’t let you down. It’s a good proof with a fine body, nice complementary flavours and a rich mouth feel. I’m so glad I finally took a punt on this one. There will be more for sure.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I like the nose better on this than the Booker’s. However, the Booker’s edges it with the extra boldness and body on the palate…only just though! If you take into account the price, Baker’s is probably the better value!
PC RATING: 89/100 ( (B+).
OFFICIAL TASTING NOTES, plus some more info about Baker’s from Beam Suntory: BAKER’S®: The Small Batch Bourbon Collection®—comprised of Knob Creek®, Booker’s®, Basil Hayden’s® and Baker’s®—is a group of ultra-premium bourbon whiskies handcrafted in limited quantities from unique recipes, some dating back two centuries. They are carefully matured for exceptional quality.
Named after Baker Beam, grandnephew of the legendary Jim Beam, Baker’s® Bourbon honours the family’s long history and love for distilling. Baker’s Bourbon is distilled at a lower proof and barrelled & aged in small batches, allowing the bourbon to pull more toasted nut, fruit & vanilla flavor from the barrel wood. Today, Baker’s is still made using this very technique & is aged only in our most select rackhouses for a robust bourbon flavor with a silky, smooth finish.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES: Baker’s® Bourbon: “World’s Best American Whiskey,” 2007 Whisky Magazine World Whiskies Awards; Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon: Gold, 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition; Booker’s® Bourbon: Double Gold, 2009 San Francisco World Spirits; Knob Creek® Bourbon: Double Gold, 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
SAMPLE SOURCE: My own collection, bought from The Vineyard
DISCLAIMER: I am not a whiskey expert, just a guy who loves whiskey and writing about it from a completely personal point of view. All opinions expressed are mine and the only influence on what rating I give comes purely from what I think of what’s in the bottle.