Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Whiskey Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 94/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on March 27, 2014
Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, Baker’s and the previously reviewed Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado.
The Baker’s Bourbon was named for Baker Beam, who was the grand-nephew of James Beauregard Beam (Jim Beam). It is bottled at 107 proof (53.5% alcohol by volume) and produced from bourbon whisky which was aged for a minimum of 7 years. Interestingly, the mash for this spirit was apparently fermented utilizing a special strain of ‘jug yeast’ that has been in the Beam family for over 60 years.
Recently I was given a bottle of Baker’s by the Alberta Beam Global Team for the purpose of a review upon my website.
In the Bottle 4/5
Baker’s arrives in the medium tall bottle shown to the left. The bottle and label have been kept very simple and my feeling is that the company is attempting to link the bourbon to a not to distant past when this style of bottle presentation would have been more common place. Beam Global is trying to insert the notion into the consumer’s mind, that it is the bourbon that they are paying for, not the bottle. I admit, that I personally would prefer a bottle with more ‘wow’ factor, although I understand that others may disagree. I am pleased with the wax dipped corked closure which helps to bring out the message that protecting what is inside the bottle just might be important. However, I am concerned that this cork closure seems to be very spongy and lightweight. I wonder to myself, just how sturdy this particular cork is?
In the Glass 9.5/10
In the glass the Baker’s Bourbon showed itself as a rich brown caramel colour with obvious reddish tinctures in the glass. When I tilted and twirled that glass, the crest which formed held fat little leglets which refused to drop back down into the whiskey. The breezes above the glass were rich and enticing with the scents of sappy oak and caramel chocolate. Honeycomb and vanilla join in with dabs of rich baking spices (particularly cloves and cinnamon) drifting in the breezes as well.
As the glass breathes, the scents and smells in the air all seem to meld together and it becomes more and more difficult to separate one impression from another. A vague nuttiness seems to bring an impression of marzipan forward which is seemingly interlaced with spicy orange marmalade. This is truly wonderful to nose!
In the Mouth 57/60
This is one of those spirits where you take a sip and your mouth and taste-buds explode with an expression of ‘wow’, as the spirit has a rich flavour profile full of all of the goodness which makes me love whiskey!
The spiciness is off the charts no doubt aided by the 53.5% alcohol by volume bottling strength of the Baker’s Whisky. Despite the full barrel of spice (and despite the obvious push of alcohol) the spirit is remarkable easy to sip. This is because all that spice is accompanied by an equally forceful explosion of flavour and sweetness. Dark sweet caramel and chocolate, rich pipe tobacco, heavy vanillans, and sappy oak all come together with the wood spices forming a wonder elixir that begs to be sipped. I can taste roasted walnuts, charred coconut, hints of dark rum and treacle, and even a touch of salt which all add to the whiskey’s character.
In the Throat 14/15
The finish is long and spicy leaving the heat of peppery cinnamon and cloves and the flavours of bittersweet chocolate and caramel toffee lingering upon the palate. The only deterrent is a walnut-like bitterness which builds with each sip. Having said that, it might also be true that this bitterness would be for some, a welcome foil to the abundant caramel sweetness the spirit possesses.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
The only question I had when I finished my tasting session with the Baker’s bourbon was whether or not this was the best bourbon I had tasted to date. Fortunately for me, I still have a little bit of Knob Creek Bourbon in my liquor cabinet, and I was able to taste the two side by side. When I did this I found, I had a slight preference for the Knob Creek, although I certainly felt the match-up was close and on a colder winter day, I think I might have chosen differently.
To sum it up, Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon, is wonderful and it will be a permanent staple of my whisky shelf from this point forward.
You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
A recipe which has become fashionable to write about on the cocktail blogs lately is the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, which mixes a nice oaky brandy with an orange slice, brandied cherries, and Angostura Bitters. It is served with crushed ice, and based on the few times I have attempted to build it (see recipe here), it is really quite delicious. When I was tasting the Baker’s Bourbon, I could not help but think to myself how well this particular spirit would work using the Wisconsin method. So I tried it a couple of times and fell into this construction which is truly marvelous!
Wisconsin Old Fashioned (Whiskey)
2 oz Baker’s Bourbon
2 Brandied Cherries (See Recipe Here)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Fees Cocktail Bitters
1 large orange slice
1/4 oz Simple syrup (1:1)
1 Brandied Cherry
Carefully remove the peel from the Orange Slice
Add the orange (without the peel) into the bottom of an Old-Fashioned Glass
Add the Baker’s Bourbon, 2 brandied cherries, the bitters, and the simple syrup
Muddle everything until very well mixed
Remove the cherry skin
Add crushed ice to fill
Garnish with a curl of orange peel with a brandied cherry in the center
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)