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Little Book Chapter 7 “In Retrospect” Review

Little Book Chapter 7 “In Retrospect” Review

Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such Little Book reviews as Chapter 4: “Learning Lessons” on why we don’t put rice in bourbon! and Chapter 5: Who “Invited” these 2-and-3-year-old whiskies into the batch?

I’m going to bet that a majority of the people reading this review right now are (or were) fans of “The Simpson’s.” The early seasons were amazing for their writing, storytelling and spoofs on the many sitcoms that came before them. There was one episode in Season 4 called “So It’s Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show” where the writers recognized that any long-running series inevitably has a “Clip Show” episode that recycles old footage. It’s a way for the cast and crew to get paid for a full episode while being lazy enough to not have to write and produce it from scratch.

That brings me back to the topic at hand: Little Book Chapter 7. Just like The Simpson’s Clip Show, Freddie Noe goes back and revisits specific whiskies from the last six Little Book releases and blends them together (along with 1 new whiskey) to create something “new.”

Thankfully, this time around he ditches some of the more controversial whiskies like Canadian Whiskey, Rice Whiskey and Malted Rye Whiskey to concentrate on some of the best components (yet somehow that damn Malted Barley Whiskey still made it in the blend). My only qualm with his selections is that he didn’t pick out any old “Old Grand Dad” barrels to also use. What’s a Beam fan gotta do to get some 10-year-old OGD at high proof?!

What’s in Little Book Chapter 7?

Here’s a quick breakdown of all the whiskies that Freddie used in this newest release:

18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

17-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

10-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

9-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

5-Year-Old Straight Malt Whiskey finished in Applewood Smoked Barrels

4-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

4-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Now in the press release, Beam says that they blended seven different liquid streams – one from each previous batch plus a new one – to create Little Book 7. The only thing is… they didn’t tell us which whiskies came from which previous batch and which whiskey is the new one!

So I began to look into this maddening omission to see if I can guess the new whiskey AND which whiskies were used in previous batches. The answer became as clear as mud as I struggled through each one. The only easy one is the 5 year straight malt finished in Applewood Smoked Barrels – that obviously came from Little Book Chapter 6. As for the others, it becomes much harder. Did Freddie pick from barrels that continued to age after that particular Little Book batch was released? Or did he vat some of them to stop the aging process and just not use them? Both scenarios are likely, so I accounted for them in this list:

18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (could be from LB3 or 5)

17-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (could be from LB3 or 5)

10-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (could be from LB2, LB4)

9-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (could be from LB1, 3, 4)

5-Year-Old Straight Malt Whiskey finished in Applewood Smoked Barrels (definitely LB6)

4-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (could be from LB1, 5)

4-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (could be from LB5)

After much thought, I’ve decided that the new component used in this blend was either the 18-year-old Kentucky Bourbon or maybe the 4-year-old Kentucky Straight Rye. Maybe that Straight rye could even be the new Monongahela Mash that was just released. Both are speculation of course, but I just don’t understand why Beam bothered telling us that 6 liquids were used from previous batches without elaborating any more. It’s a missed marketing opportunity.

So with very little else to go on, I guess it’s time to just have a pour and find out myself. As usual, I sampled this neat in a glencairn. Here are my notes.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A nice blend of molasses, honey and caramel on the nose that gives way to a very woody body. Some “bourbon-forward” scents like candy corn and vanilla are met with more malt-forward scents like cereal grains (Honey-nut Cheerios). Oak notes mix with cooked orchard fruits which give a nice contrast of the older and younger whiskies in the blend. The baking spices are generally mild. I find floral scents only after a while – I would attribute these to the two rye whiskies that were blended into the batch. To sum up the nose – it’s not nearly as bold as a standard Beam-produced bourbon, but it’s hard to describe all of the facets of this. Blending various whiskies will do that, I suppose.

Palate: Oddly, I think the Applewood-smoked malt stands out first. Both notes – the apple and the smoke – seem obvious to my tongue. There are plenty of other woody and tannic notes (oak spice and tobacco leaf) to be found on the tongue and I must say that I wouldn’t be able to properly pin the age of this whiskey if I tasted it blind. It’s simultaneously old and young at the same time. Honey and molasses offer sweetness and the trademark Beam nuttiness lurks around from sip to sip – but is very subdued. Spices vary from black pepper to cinnamon to allspice. I found floral notes on the nose, but any hints that this contains rye whiskey on the tongue are missing to me.

Finish: Oak, cinnamon and barrel char stand out the most. The fruits (caramel-covered apple, faint cherry + citrus) disappear slowly. Baking spices die down to a smolder, allowing you to savor the sweetness and complexity more. The finish is satisfying and delicious. It’s not your typical bourbon finish, but it’s got extra character for what it is.

Score: 8.1/10

After three years of fairly wild experimentations for the Little Book line, I feel like Chapter 7 toned it down a lot. This was a whiskey that seemed to center heavily on its bourbon roots even though almost half of the blend was made up of whiskies that weren’t bourbons. It also changes a lot in the bottle. This almost never happens to me, but I was halfway through this bottle before I could settle on distinct tasting notes. It seemed to change a lot depending on the pour.

For those that drink mindlessly (not an attack, I do it too), this will fool you into thinking it’s a bourbon. It’s only after you really sit down to study it will you pick up on the fact that the malt whiskey makes much more of an impact than you may have believed. I also found this bottle to drink much less hot than it’s proof would have you think. Not a bad trait by any means!

Final Thoughts

The Simpsons didn’t just stop at just one clip show during their time on the air. They practically became a mainstay over the course of the next several seasons. Many of them, like Season 7’s “The Simpson’s 138th Episode Spectacular” were really just Clip Shows in disguise. And Troy McClure gave us this gem:

Yes, the Simpsons have come a long way since an old drunk made humans out of his rabbit characters to pay off his gambling debts. Who knows what adventures they’ll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?

One has to wonder “how many more times can Freddie recycle ideas from his old batches?” If they taste as good as this one did, I’d say he should do it more often – or at least until Little Book becomes unprofitable. Just please, don’t give us another release like Batch 6, ugh.

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