Little Book Chapter 4: Lessons Honored
For those that don't know, the Little Book Whiskey series is an experimental group of blended whiskeys. Because Booker's has such a solid reputation as an uncut, unfiltered bourbon, Freddie Noe can't really take risks. The Little Book series allows him to play and flex his blending muscles. Overall, the series has been a great success, with some excellent whiskey being blended into an amazing result.
Chapter 4 brings us a rather different blend of a 4-year Brown Rice Bourbon, a 7-year Straight Bourbon and an 8-year Straight Rye. While there are 2 "bourbons" in the blend, something like brown rice will likely bring a different flavor profile than a typical Straight Bourbon. Adding in an older Straight Rye whiskey will also change the profile, but in a different manner. However, a blend is not about the parts as much as it is about how the parts play together.
What I really like about this series in general is the risk. You rarely see a large distiller take many risks, though you might see a special release of some experimental casks or finishes. Blended whiskey has had a fairly poor reputation for a while. Blended Scotch is seeing a resurgence with the likes of Compass Box and others. In America, let's hope that releases like Little Book can help with the rise of blended whiskey as well.
So, how does the blend in Lessons Honored measure up?
No Age Statement
Distilled and Bottled by James Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, Kentucky
Blend of 4-year Brown Rice Bourbon, 7-year Straight Bourbon, and 8-year Straight Rye
Bottled at 61.4% ABV (122.8 proof)
Vanilla, butterscotch, and brown sugar lead the way. Ethanol and caramel play together just beneath. Burnt oak sits in the background. After some time in the glass, you can find the fleeting aroma of burnt coconut.
Oily and rich. Vanilla, caramel, smoke, and dark cherries all vie for attention in a wonderful dance. It is a bit warm, but not overwhelming
Dry oak, caramel, and brown sugar fight for dominance. While vanilla, smoke, and dark cherries sit in the background. This long finish stays warm throughout.
Recommendation: Buy it now!
At least buy it if you can still find it! This really is a fantastic whiskey whose only real fault is the heat. It is fairly well balanced, very flavorful and just delicious. While the standard bourbon profile is apparent, there are some slight nuances that make this just a little different. Like many typical Booker's batches, this is a bold whiskey, so do not let the "blended whiskey" or slightly lower proof lull you into complacency. I was surprised at the general lack of that spice or pepper that you get from a typical rye. There were some faint herbal notes, but they tended to be quick, fleeting, and indistinct. The heat definitely gives you that "Kentucky hug" feel, but it can be a bit much at points. I did add a few drops of water and the heat dissipated a bit, but also tended to flatten the flavor profile. So, I highly recommend drinking it neat or with a large ice ball to avoid too much dilution.