The Beam family is Bourbon royalty. It started back in the 1780s with Jacob Beam, who moved his family (and his still) to Kentucky. His son, David, took over the family business when he was 18. Then came his son, David M., who relocated the distillery to Nelson County. His youngest son, James, took the helm until Prohibition shut everything down. However, once Prohibition was repealed, James (who preferred to be called Jim) revived the family yeast. He reopened his distillery in about 120 days at age 70.
Jim had a son who went by his nickname, Jere. Jere built a distillery in Bullitt County and introduced his family’s Bourbon to Europe. Unfortunately (or for us, fortunately), Jere had no children, so he passed the business to his nephew Frederick “Booker” Noe II. Booker was the first master distiller of Beam whiskey with a different last name. Booker was the man behind Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek, Baker’s, and Booker’s.
His son, Frederick “Fred” Booker Noe III, is Beam’s current master distiller. Fred took the brands his father created worldwide. While doing so, he further expanded the Beam product line to include Devil’s Cut and Double Oak.
Fred has a son named Frederick “Freddie” Booker Noe IV, following in his footsteps. But Fred and Freddie aren’t alone on the distilling family tree of Beams. They own and operate various distilleries, but they're all family at the end of the day.
Today, I’m exploring Booker’s Batch 2023-03, nicknamed Mighty Fine Batch.
“This batch is named in honor of the signature phrase, Mighty Fine, that Sixth Generation Beam Master Distiller Booker Noe would use to compliment anything he approved of – from his namesake bourbon to his country ham. Shortly before Booker passed away in 2004, his son, Seventh Generation Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, was in charge of selecting the barrels for a Booker’s Bourbon batch. Fred was a little nervous at first - he had big shoes to fill - but after Booker tasted the sample, he looked at Fred and said, Mighty fine job, son. A lot of people thought it was one of the best batches, but receiving Booker’s vote of confidence made it that much more special for Fred – a moment he will never forget.” – Booker’s Bourbon
Like all Booker’s releases, Mighty Fine Batch is uncut and unfiltered. It was distilled from a mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley, then spent 7 years, 1 month, and 10 days in #4-charred oak barrels. Packaged at 63.3% ABV (126.6°), Mighty Fine Batch has a suggested price of $89.99.
Jim Beam provided me with a sample of Mighty Fine Batch in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and taste how mighty fine Mighty Fine is.
Appearance: I used a Glencairn glass to sip this Bourbon neat. The liquid’s color was a deep orange amber. The microthin rim dropped thick, slow tears that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: Initially, I smelled cinnamon and nutmeg. My second approach added crème brulee. There was oak, but it was harder to pull than you’d guess. It was all thick, rich caramel when I pulled the vapor through my lips.
Palate: If the full-bodied, scorched mouthfeel could talk, it would taunt me by saying, Hey, Whiskeyfellow, I’m only 127°! It seemed like I was drinking something at a hazmat level. As such, I will review this neat with two drops of added water (for what it is worth, Booker’s recommends proofing it down).
Neat: At the front, I tasted nutmeg, dark chocolate, and caramel. Midway through was old leather, brown sugar, and cinnamon Red Hots. The back offered clove, black pepper, and dry oak.
With water: Mighty Fine Batch became a caramel bomb. Brown sugar and cocoa joined it. The middle retained the old leather but converted the Red Hots to cinnamon sticks. I found clove, dry oak, and tobacco leaf on the back.
Finish: Mighty Fine Batch had a freight train, hot finish. Again, I’ll split my findings between neat and with two drops of added water.
Neat: The massive finish left me puckering my lips. It featured black pepper, dry oak, clove, and caramel. My hard palate and lips were tingling, and my tongue felt burning.
With water: The added water removed some of this Bourbon’s dryness. The caramel, brown sugar, oak, and clove remained. But, importantly, my palate and tongue weren’t in pain. It seemed more manageable.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I don’t often find barrel-proof whiskeys to be “too hot” to enjoy. However, Mighty Fine Batch fell under that rarely-used description. It was challenging to pluck out flavors because I was too distracted by the heat.
Several of Booker’s batches have recommended adding water. I’ve found that unnecessary. Following that recommendation, Mighty Fine Batch became more palatable. It was still rough on the edges – perhaps it needed more water. However, I question what I'm doing when I have to water a whiskey down beyond two drops.
Mighty Fine Batch has, to date, been my least favorite of the various Booker’s releases I’ve had an opportunity to review. It isn’t a bad Bourbon – the quality is there. If you enjoy bold, arid spice bombs, Batch 2023-03 is right up your alley. For me, it was too much. You should try this one for yourself before making a commitment – it earns my Bar rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.