Saturday, August 15, 2020

Baker's 13 Year Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

VITALS:
- $115
- 107 Proof
- 13 Years
- Barrel No. 222056
- Kentucky

If you ask me, the Baker's re-branding is one of the best things that Beam has done in recent years. I've always been a fan of the Baker's small batch. Something about it has always hit the right notes for me, not to mention that I've got some fond memories of enjoying a nice tall pour of the stuff. That being said, the old labeling left much to be desired, and I think it was a bit reason why it was frequently the forgotten bourbon in Beam's small batch series.

I was excited for the re-branding, and just as excited for the switch from small batch to single barrel, even if for no other reason than that I anticipated it would generate more love for one of my favorite brands. The release of a 13 year limited edition only added to that excitement, and when one was offered to me, that was an incredibly easy yes. I only hoped it'd be as good as it was in my head before I plopped down that kind of cash.

The nose was hot, not only on the first pop of the cork, but even on the last few pours after the bottle had sat on my shelf for a while. Behind that alcohol burn, though, I was getting a lot of cinnamon and peanuts, a combination which initially seems alright, but then, when I thought about it, I could not recall ever having that combination of flavors before. I also got some hazelnut and chocolate, making this smell a lot like a cinnamon spiced Nutella. 

The flavor profile was not nearly as sweet as the nose led me to believe. There was a certain burnt sugar flavor, as well as a dark caramel sauce, like the sauce that's on flan.  There was also a soft, nougat flavor along with some milk chocolate.

However, there was something behind those flavors on each pour. I couldn't quite pin down a particular flavor, but it was an earthy and musty note. There was a certain amount of wood in the flavor, but that was coupled with a certain funk, like wood that had been out in the rain all night (and no, I've never eaten a log off the ground after a hard night's rain, but you get my point). There was just this constant musty note that seemed really odd.

Luckily there was a decent spice on the finish to keep me going back. The finish was probably the best part, with cinnamon and black pepper spice lingering for a long time, along with the peanut and nougat notes. It's only because of this long, tasty finish that the musty note didn't drive me away.

I really wanted to love this whiskey. In fact, when I initially tried a pour from my buddy's bottle (don't know if it was the same barrel or not), I thought it was great. My bottle, though, just had something funky and earthy to it that really distracted from everything else going on, which is a shame, because everything else that was going on was really delicious.

Grade: B-

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