Little Book Chapter 5: The Invitation
Blended American Whiskey — Kentucky, USA
Tasted September 14, 2021
Classic Booker’s packaging - kicked up a notch. The wooden box resembles something like a #4 char (as opposed to the stained wood of typical Booker’s boxes). A fancy tag and medallion let you know the additional $30-50 above Bookers q4 month releases is a sign of something unique. Or is it? Full disclosure here, I love Booker’s for its unrestrained heat and bold, sweet brown sugar notes. Little Book 4 was my bourbon equivalent of Johnny Walker green label - a unique blend that could very well be greater than the sum of its parts. This blend is a bit less unique and represents the beginning, middle and end of bourbons aging with a bit of malted rye thrown in. I’m expecting some chocolate or coffee notes as a result. The color is a nice amber-orange and fire practically ruses from the glass. The aromas evolve over time. At first I would swear this is 9y Knob Creek. Then it opens up and some rye notes and interesting fruity aromas find their way in. Cherry, mint, allspice, brown sugar, oak, toasted marshmallow, dried cranberry, hibiscus tea. Slightly syrupy, building heat, cinnamon churro, dried fruits, vanilla cream, pralines, sweet tobacco. The finish is long and a bit of mint and tea sneak in that I suspect come from the malted rye. I might get the faintest cacao note but could be making it up. I might mistake this for a solid batch of Stagg Jr but just slightly more tame. Slightly. But the flavor is there in spades. There is a nice toasty marshmallow and herbal kick that Stagg Jr lacks. I would put this up there with a solid JD barrel strength or ECBP as well. It is, for better or worse, more complex than Bookers. The strong nose, big palate and long finish make this hard to love, but is it worth the extra $30-50? In a practical sense, is Bookers worth $80-90 for you? If the answer is yes, then $120-130 for this is likely an easy yes. If you find Booker’s to be overpriced and lacking in complexity then you will likely enjoy what this adds to the Booker’s mix but the price is hard to swallow. Not intending to spiral into a VFM rant here but with plenty of $130-200 offerings out there I think many would agree that some are worth it - others are absolutely not. I consider Kentucky Owl Confiscated at $125 to be inferior to this, as would 14y Sam Houston. This is probably on par with $175 Four Gate Split Stave and also cheaper, but hotter (which some will not like). Compared to a Bardstown Discovery around $125-150, those I would say have been better for the same or slightly more money. With ECBP creeping up to $85 in some markets it is still a clear VFM winner, but also becoming more of a PITA to find. Then the mini-unicorn that is Stagg Jr at $65-85 if ever seen or $125+ on the secondary and again this bottle of Little Book seems to have a decent VFM standing once again. Here is the kicker. Beam will now mail me a bottle of this. No hunting, just have to live in KY (or maybe DC) and they’ll ship the damn thing. That I find impressive. While living in KY is a huge Bourbon perk the idea of to-your-door service from the distiller… that is seismic and has larger implications than most of what I have written above. While this setup is likely to face legal challenges (apparently Biden is lobbing the idea of ending state-regulated alcohol control and even the three-their system) I will take advantage of a bottle of delicious bourbon, gifted to KY, and drink to the bewildering industry that is whiskey. Cheers to the Noe family on this shake up!
125.0 USD per Bottle