Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Beam Suntory
Distillery: Jim Beam
Release Date: November 2022
Age: 7 Years, 6 Months, 17 Days
Mashbill: 77% Corn, 13% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
MSRP: N/A (Charity Only Bottles)
Brown sugar | Baking spices | Light vanilla wafer | Hints of caramel chews | Cinnamon raisin bread | Classic rich bourbon scents
Aged oak | Rich syrup-soaked raisins | Rye spice | Cinnamon stick | Light caramel sweetness | Rich mouth-coating flavors
Bold rye spice | Baking spice | Light dry leather | Charred oak | Hints of sweet caramel | Lingering spice that doesn’t quit
As the only single barrel of Booker’s Bourbon ever released, “The Second Chance Batch” has a truly unique and heartfelt backstory.
The old saying that you’ll always remember your first never held more truth than when it comes to the first ever single barrel of Booker’s ever released. Chosen by the Medicinal Whiskey Charity, and aptly named “the Second Chance Batch,” the bottle has a special backstory. Fred Noe shares this backstory with every bottle, and I’ve decided to share it below in its unedited entirety:
“As I did in work, I followed in my dad’s footsteps in health. He had kidney problems that I also developed with age. What I didn’t expect was to find the answer within my Beam family.
DeeAnn has been at the distillery and part of my family for 25 years. When she sets out to do something, she sees it through. So, when she heard that I needed a kidney transplant, she asked for my blood type, got some tests run and found that we were a match.
There was no question about where we’d go. Dr. Shah and the folks at the UK HealthCare are my neighbors. They’ve known me for years and they’re some of the most well-respected doctors in their field. I trusted them and wasn’t going anywhere else.
On April 23rd, 2021, DeeAnn and I drove together to the Transplant Center at UK Chandler Hospital. My wife and DeeAnn’s husband couldn’t come in, so it was just me and her. My second chance, DeeAnn.
Our surgeries went off without a hitch. Months later, DeeAnn is all healed up and I have the quality of life that I’d been missing. She and the folks at the University of Kentucky gave me a new lease on life. With it, I wanted to do something for the first time to celebrate the friends who made it possible.
Like other batches of dad’s bourbon, this one is uncut and unfiltered, there’s nothing added to it. What’s in the barrel goes in your glass. But unlike the rest, these bottles are from one barrel in the sweet spot of dad’s favorite rickhouse, handpicked by me and the folks from the Medicinal Whiskey Charity, and donated for my friends at UK HealthCare.
It stands apart from anything else.
Just like DeeAnn and everyone at the University.”
To say this is an incredible backstory sells it short. Never in the history of the Booker’s line has there been a single barrel released, and it’s possible there never will be again. It’s an incredibly heartwarming story that Beam donated this barrel to benefit the UK Transplant Center. When we were contacted by the folks at Medicinal Whiskey Charity to sample and review this bourbon, we were honored to spotlight the amazing story and bourbon that resulted from it.
Hailing from Floor 4 of Warehouse D, the barrel was selected in early May 2022, tanked in August 2022, and barreled in October of that same year. The bourbon opens with a great nose filled with rich classic bourbon scents. These aromas are delivered with an intensity that gives you a preview of its barrel-proof nature and makes you want to linger for just a little bit longer before taking a sip. When you finally do, you’re greeted with a great combination of rich mouth-coating flavors of aged oak and spice, along with a dollop of syrup-soaked raisins. Ending on notes of bold spice and dry notes, the finish lingers, refusing to quit. It’s a delightful sip that ranks up there with some of the best Booker’s Bourbon batches released to date. Comparing it against this year's outstanding Booker’s Batch No. 2022-02 “The Lumberyard Batch,” which made our Best Bourbons of 2022 list, Booker’s “Second Chance” held its own and then some. What’s most noticeable in Booker’s in its single barrel form is how zeroed in its flavor profile is. It’s a narrow band of flavors that can instantly be picked out from one another and each equally shares the spotlight. It's possible why this particular single barrel was picked out, as it tightly aligns with Noe’s ideal flavor profile and may very well be a shining example of a quintessential Booker’s bourbon. It’s surprisingly not overly showy in any aspect and comes across as a reserved, distinguished, and all around great tasting bourbon.
This is truly a special bottle, not only because of its very good flavor profile but also because of the amazing story of how it came to be and the money it continues to raise. Ryan Gossage, Chairman of the Medicinal Whiskey Charity provided us some additional background: “So far, 110 of the 175 bottles have raised 250k. We sent a check in to the UK transplant patient assistance fund for $250k earlier this week. This is a fund that Dr. Malay Shah, Fred Noe, and MWC have helped to create within the past year. Transplants occur at all hours of the day and night, with patients and their families under a tremendous amount of stress to be ready 24/7. Fred, Malay, and MWC hope this fund will play a small part in helping to relieve that stress.” Gossage went on to tell us that “the final 65 bottles will be part of fundraising in the future over the next 5-10 years with all of those proceeds going to the patient assistance fund.”
While we're sure many bourbon drinkers would love the chance to taste Booker’s in its single barrel form, the most important thing to focus on is that Fred Noe is healthy and able to continue to create great Booker’s batches for the foreseeable future and that DeeAnn is healthy and able to continue her role as Plant Support Coordinator at Beam’s distilleries. If you have an opportunity and means to bid on one of the remaining Booker’s “Second Chance” single barrel bottles, know it's for a great cause and the bourbon definitely doesn’t disappoint. Not only will you be helping a fantastic cause, but you also have the opportunity to walk away with a great bourbon that has one of the most unique and warming backstories of modern times.
The sample being reviewed comes from bottle 115 of 175.
The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy of the Medicinal Whiskey Charity. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.