The Baker’s label is one of the original small batch Bourbons introduced by Jim Beam Distilleries in the 1990s. It is named for Baker Beam, who worked at the distillery at that time, but has since started his own trucking company. I have a fondness for Baker Beam as he was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2006, the same year that Bill Freil and I were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Even before that, I always thought that the Baker’s small-batch was my favorite of the group that included, Basil Hayden, Knob Creek and Booker’s small batch Bourbons.
This is the first new expression of the Baker’s label. It is bottled at 107 proof, just like the small-batch expression, and bottled at least seven years old. It is an attractive bottle and reasonably priced for a single barrel Bourbon. It may become one of my favorite Beam Bourbons.
Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon
Age: 8 years, 6 months
Nose: Lots of oak wood, vanilla and some fruit – berries or maybe sour cherries.
Taste: Oak, pipe tobacco, pepper spice, caramel and a hint of fruit – cherries or dates. When tasted with a dried cranberry the caramel comes forward with a hint of honey, but the oak and pepper fade into the background. When tasted with a pecan it becomes fruit-forward with berries and cherries with a hint of honey and baking spices.
Finish: Long and dry with oak and pepper spice. The cranberry makes the spice more of a cinnamon spice. The pecan made the finish longer and drier with lots of oak tannins and pepper spice.
I am pairing this Bourbon with a La Boheme Poeta toro cigar. The smoke has caramel notes with an earthy flavor of hay and rich tobacco. The Bourbon brings forward the caramel and vanilla notes and added a dried fruit sweetness to the smoke. The smoke made the Bourbon sweeter with lots of caramel and vanilla and less pepper and oak. It is a very good pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller
January 8, 2020 at 1:12 pm
I’m no longer a cigar smoker, which can have an impact upon whiskey, but the dry, oaky wood flavor in Bakers is an acquired taste for some, while an annoyance for others.
This is not ‘honey barrel’ whiskey in my opinion, but opinions should be welcome and Michael may agree.
It is important for those who imbibe to appreciate that some will differ as to what they like at any given time. That is by no means an indictment of the whiskey. This is noteworthy for what it is.
Just remember that if or when you want a more oaky woody, arguably dry or perhaps spicy whiskey, Bakers is definitely an option. Otherwise, consider Bookers or Knob Creek.
January 9, 2020 at 7:42 pm
I always found Baker’s to be less woody than Knob Creek and for that reason it has always been my favorite of the Beam small batch collection. They both have a lot of wood, but I always found Knob Creek more bitter oak and Baker’s more of a sweet oak. However, everyone’s tastes are different. They are both very good Bourbons.
January 10, 2020 at 1:40 am
Another excuse to put them side by side, but I’ve tended to favor Knob, even though Baker is a bourbon with more of the flavors that define bourbon, which you pointed out.