We Tasted Booker’s First Bourbon Batch of the Year and It’s Stellar

Each batch of Booker’s Bourbon is given a name that references a different story or marker in the life and legacy of Booker Noe, the late Jim Beam master distiller (the distillery is now known as the James B. Beam Distilling Co.). The latest, Springfield Batch, brings it all back to where it started by naming the whiskey after the small Kentucky town Noe was raised in, and it’s another good entry into this long-running bourbon brand.

Noe created Booker’s in 1988 as a barrel-proof, uncut, unfiltered bourbon that was unlike anything else the distillery was releasing at the time. He is also credited with coining the term “small batch” in 1992 when he introduced the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, consisting of Booker’s, Basil Hayden, Knob Creek, and and Baker’s (the term “small batch” doesn’t actually have a legal definition, so it just refers to a smaller batch of whiskey than usual). Today, Booker’s is released in four batches per year (sometimes fewer), each varying in strength and age but ranging between about 120 and 130 proof and usually spending about seven years in barrels, give or take.

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Springfield Batch is the first release of 2024, so it’s been given the numeric designation 2024-01. According to notes from Booker’s son Fred Noe—the seventh generation master distiller at Beam who works alongside his son, eighth generation master distiller Freddie Noe—Booker was raised in Springfield, Kentucky which is located in the central part of the state about halfway between Louisville and Lexington. He moved about 18 miles to Bardstown, the spiritual home of bourbon, when he was an adolescent, and the rest is whiskey history.

As for the actual liquid in this batch, the bourbon is exactly seven years, seven months, and eight days old and bottled at barrel proof of 124.5. That puts it in the sweet spots of maturation and ABV—not too old and not too young, not too hot but still packing a boozy punch. The flavors are classic Booker’s, with notes of brown sugar, grain, caramel, molasses, vanilla, and black pepper on the palate. But what really defines Springfield Batch is a mellow sweetness with an almost citrus-like character that positions this release on the milder side of the Booker’s flavor spectrum. While that might not appeal to some, in my opinion this is another success in a run of high-quality Booker’s batches.

Booker’s Springfield Batch (SRP $90) is launching nationally this month, so it might be difficult to find in some markets at the moment. But check websites like ReserveBar and Total Wine to see if it’s available in your area.

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