Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Beam Suntory
Distillery: Jim Beam
Release Date: September 2019
Age: Blend of 9, 11, and 12 year old bourbons
Mashbill: Blend of 77% Corn, 13% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley (Knob Creek, Baker’s, and Booker’s) and 63% Corn, 27% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley (Basil Hayden’s)
Color: Dark Copper
MSRP: $125 (2019)
Little Book is an ongoing annual release from Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam family member and son of current Beam master distiller, Fred Noe. This year’s edition, Chapter 03, has been titled “The Road Home.” Chapter 03 is a unique blend of bourbons: 9 year old Knob Creek, 9 year old Basil Hayden's, 11 year old Booker's, and 12 year old Baker's. The blend is bottled uncut at 122.6 proof and is available nationwide. You can read more about it in the company’s press release.
Elegant classic bourbon scents waft out of the glass. Aged leather and oak mingle with toasted brown sugar, crème brûlée, and a faint floral undertone. Ethanol mingles in and out, reminding you of the higher proof velocity of the sip to come. It’s a nice way to kick things off and helps set the tone for the sip.
Fans of all of the various lines of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection will be extremely pleased with what this palate delivers. Rye spice is immediately noticeable and comes rushing in. Hiding behind the rye spice are caramel, honey, black pepper, vanilla, and aged oak. The proof clearly plays a role in amplifying all of the flavors present. This is a big bold palate that pulls forth all of the best features of the various members of Beam’s Small Batch Collection.
A hot and peppery finish. Big bold rye spice and black pepper are at the forefront with a hint of sweetness mixed in. It then transitions to just leather, oak, vanilla, and rye spice. Long lasting, these flavors continue to deliver, hanging on for an incredibly lengthy amount of time. The finish highlights the ages without coming across as overly oaky or over-aged.
The Little Book Series has always been about creating a more unique experience. Its past chapters have included various blends that you normally wouldn’t think would work well together, but do. In the case of Little Book Chapter 3, Freddie has literally done something that many bourbon drinkers probably always wanted to do, combine Beam’s Small Batch Collection into a Frankenstein blend. In this case though, Freddie took it to the next level.
You assume that Little Book Chapter 3 not only is using hand-selected barrels of what are presumably some of the best “honey” barrels of each of the Small Batch Collection’s brands, but also ones consumers can’t buy. With the exception of Knob Creek which has been released as a 9 year 120 proof single barrel and as a 100 proof Small Batch that recently regained its 9 year age statement, each of the expressions was pulled from aged barrels that aren’t offered to consumers. Additionally and perhaps most interestingly, since the blend is being bottled uncut, it includes bourbons from the Small Batch Collection normally not offered in cask strength form.
While each chapter of the series is meant to be unique, this one nails everything you’d want out of a unique bourbon. At its core, it is a high proof, bold bourbon with an enjoyable flavor profile that somehow manages to highlight the best traits of each of the Small Batch Collection brands - not a small feat mind you. More importantly however, is that it’s one that helps elevate the sum of its parts. You can call it a frankenstein bourbon or an expertly blended product, but at the end of the day, this is one of the most unique offerings utilizing current variations of products in production by a major distillery in recent times.
Little Book Chapter 3 saw a $25 dollar increase over the $100 asking price from last year’s batch. Some may scoff at the price and say that they could just go out and buy all four bottles of the Small Batch Collection for under $200 and have four bottles of bourbon on their hands versus just one. Carrying forward that logic, one might even assume they could just experiment with a blended ratio at home to recreate Little Book Chapter 3.
Except Little Book Chapter 3 contains unique Small Batch Collection barrels that aren't available elsewhere. Sure you could buy all four bottles in the Small Batch Collection and make your own blend, however you won’t be able to recreate what’s in Little Book Chapter 3. With that in mind, the asking price of $125 seems very appropriate here, and one of the better values out their for 2019 limited releases.
A unique blend with a big bold flavor profile that should draw more attention to the Little Book series moving forward.
Little Book Chapter 3 suprised me. Individually I enjoy each of the Small Batch Collection brands, however I couldn’t imagine pouring them all together and still achieving a well-balanced end result. In this case however, that’s exactly what ended up in the bottle. The sip helps to highlight the best traits of each of the individual brands that end up in the blend. It’s one that bourbon lovers of big bold high proof pours will appreciate and make them ask the question: why aren’t more distilleries creating blends of this type? If you’re a fan of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection and are looking for a unique application of them, Little Book Chapter 3 will be well worth seeking out.
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Beam Suntory. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.