An admission that I think 90% of us could make on here would be that we’ve never bought a bottle of Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon (the old bottle design). Priced at or above Knob Creek but below Bookers, the bland packaging and the fact that it was a younger age statement with less proof made it easy to ignore.
Besides, if you love the classic Beam profile, you’d treat yourself to Booker’s. But if you wanted one of the best values in bourbon out there, you typically went with the 120 proof, 9 year (minimum) Knob Creek… or even one of their store picks with a higher age statement. So Baker’s sat on the shelf with its unappealing dark tint and wine-bottle shape.
But as I assume will be a growing trend in the industry, Beam decided that the packaging needed a Facelift. This bottle is now a single barrel instead of batched, gets a neck and topper much like the new Legent bottle and they turned up the Steampunk effect a couple notches.
Voila, Baker’s has been born anew. Oh, and I believe they gave it a slight price increase (this bottle was $57). Honestly, I’ve never had Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon before and I’ve only had 2 different Bookers along with a handful of Knob Creek picks, but I felt that I kinda knew what to expect.
So is the new bottle design and single barrel designation worth your $50-57? I sat down to determine this with my trusty glencairn and a neat pour that rested for 15 minutes.
Nose: Fresh roasted peanuts and melted pecan praline ice cream. Thick, pungent caramel. Nougat and some faint toasted orange peel.
Palate: Viscous mouthfeel that tastes like a Snicker’s Candy Bar. Chocolate, caramel and peanuts. There’s buttery pie crust and toasted crème brulee top along with just a hint of oak.
Finish: Honey Roasted Peanuts, charred oak, caramel, menthol, cinnamon spice and chocolate pudding packs.
I don’t know how close this is to the old Baker’s, but this dram was the most dessert-y bourbon I’ve had in a while. In my notes, I jotted down a couple of key traits like “Candy Bar,” “Dessert,” and “Booker’s Jr.” It was delicious and didn’t have any offensive traits, just a perfectly sippable sweet bourbon.
However, it was somewhat one dimensional with a lack of fruit or rye notes and the tannins didn’t really show up in a big way for being 8 years 6 months old (that is what the neck label indicates). That’s all well and good for most folks, but the value proposition begins to rear its ugly head. For all the better Bakers is, it’s still not exactly on the Knob Creek Single Barrel level.
In fact, one competitive bourbon that I think could top this one easily is Old Ezra 7 year old Barrel Proof. While not a single barrel, it typically runs for $45 to $50 around town, offers a higher proof and may be a little more complex. And if you’re a Wild Turkey fan, then I might say that this is pretty much equal to the latest Rare Breed (116.8) while being $10 to $15 less.
Stay tuned for those side-by-sides in the future! Until then, if you’re a happy camper with Old Ezra, Knob Creek or Rare Breed, I would suggest to keep sipping those and leave the new Baker’s on the shelf.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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