Little Book Chapter 8 “Path Not Taken”


Classification: Blended Straight Whiskeys

Company: Beam Suntory

Distillery: Jim Beam Distillery

Release Date: May 2024

Proof: 118.2

Age: Blend of whiskeys aged 4-18 years

Mashbill: Undisclosed percentages of straight bourbon and ryes:

-18 year old Kentucky straight bourbon (High rye)
-11 year old Kentucky straight rye-7 year old Kentucky straight rye malt
-5 year old Kentucky straight rye (Kentucky family-style, Char 4)
-5 year old Kentucky straight rye (PA family-style, Char 1)
-5 year old Kentucky straight rye (PA family-style, Char 4)
-4 year old Kentucky straight rye

Color: Warm Gold

MSRP: $150 / 750mL (2024)

Official Website

Little Book is an annual limited release curated by Freddie Noe, Jim Beam’s 8th generation master distiller. Typically released in September, this year Beam Suntory advanced Little Book’s release date to May.

Little Book “chapters” vary significantly each year, with each bottling being a one-off blend featuring various American whiskeys from bourbon, to corn whiskey, malt whiskey, and rye unique to each blend. “Path Not Taken” is Freddie Noe’s first rye grain focused Little Book release, combining six rye whiskeys and one high rye bourbon. The whiskey is available nationwide in limited quantities.  


Bold and spicy right at the onset, the whiskey’s rye components dominate the aroma. Big rye spice is most prominent, though not overpowering as it’s joined by cinnamon and baking spices. There’s an underlying caramel sweetness that seeps into the spicy mix. What it lacks in complexity it makes up for with sheer desirability, putting forward a delicious rye-focused aroma that immediately draws you in.


The sip is a tidal wave of flavor right up front, starting with a rich base of rye bread, butterscotch, pretzel dough, caramel, and barrel char. Baking spices and cinnamon layer in, and are joined by a slight citrus undertone. As you roll it around in your mouth an herbal note creeps in. The flavor profile doesn’t give away its younger components or older components in the blend as oak is not a prominent flavor note. Instead, the base whiskeys are tightly melded together creating a slurry of full-bodied rye-inspired flavors. It’s big rye done right, making for a complex whiskey that’s bold, full-flavored, and pretty darn tasty.


Gripping rye spice holds on for dear life well into the finish. Sweeter flavors also gain ground here, with more caramel and a touch of brown sugar. They’re joined by dried apricot and a light sugary citrus note. The combination makes for a fantastic finish that’s long, spicy, and rich.


Since its debut in 2017 and with every edition thereafter, the Little Book series has been a fun whiskey line to follow. With the exception of Chapter 3 “The Road Home” which was a straight bourbon, Freddie Noe has stayed away from keeping Little Book blends inside of predefined whiskey categories. With Chapter 8 “Path Not Taken,” the series gets as close to a straight rye as it may ever get, or at least has so far. The inclusion of an 18 year old high rye bourbon as one of the seven components in the blend voids it from qualifying as a straight rye in legal terms, but considering it’s the oldest whiskey in the blend it’s probably not a large percentage, making you wonder if it’s included specifically to keep the whiskey from falling into the standard straight rye category. Regardless, the whiskey doesn’t just say rye when you taste it, it screams rye, so whatever Noe’s reason for including a high rye bourbon, the end result tastes as quintessentially rye as anyone could ask for.

Diving deeper into the whiskey components, you can glean Beam Suntory’s product line. Old Grand-Dad Bourbon (the high rye 18 year old component), Basil Hayden Malted Rye (the straight rye malt component), and Old Overholt (the 11 year old straight rye component), are fair assumptions to make in loose terms considering age and details provided. The family-style components don’t tie back to a particular bottle in Beam’s product, instead begging more questions.

Blending a range of ryes is far less common than blending a range of bourbons, though some companies such as Barrell Craft Spirits have produced fantastic blended ryes utilizing a wide spectrum of whiskey components in the blend. Strangely, because few whiskey makers pull together various ryes to create blends, this subcategory of American whiskey remains relatively unexplored. This may be attributed to the fact that ryes have just started to gain ground in the past decade, or may be because ryes tend to be less dynamic than bourbons in terms of flavor profile. If there is any flaw with Little Book Chapter 8, it’s here, as the whiskey is so rye-forward its flavor profile lacks some of the more dynamic characteristics you tend to find with bourbons.


Little Book has seen an increase in price from $80 to $150 per bottle since its debut in 2017. This increase was most pronounced in the first three years when it jumped to $100 and then to $125 per bottle, where it stuck until it jumped again to $150 in 2023. Its current $150 price point is not shocking when it comes to limited edition releases from major Kentucky distilleries, and is especially notable when you consider many nonchalant releases sourced from some of the same large distilleries clock in near the 5 year range sell for $75 to just shy of $100. This doesn’t excuse the fact that $150 for a bottle of American whiskey is still well beyond what you would have typically seen in the past, but in today’s terms is completely normal for a higher end limited release that has been building a strong rapport among whiskey fans.

Notable ryes (or almost ryes in this case) come up less often than notable bourbons just by the sheer numbers as bourbon is produced in far greater quantities than rye. That gives this bottle a bump. Throw in the fact that the taste is right on the “rye” mark and it shines.  

With that being said, the whiskey does contain an undisclosed amount of younger 4 and 5 year old whiskeys. Without the percentages of the blend detailed (which is perfectly fine, by the way), Beam is not readily sharing how much of the younger versus older whiskey was used. The melding together of whiskeys comes through in the taste, which doesn’t veer too far into identifiably young or old tasting whiskeys. It becomes a bit of a leap of faith on the consumer’s part as a result.

Ultimately I’m at a fairly strong buy on this bottle regardless of this concern. The rising tide of whiskey prices and whiskey releases means that remarkable whiskeys will likely come at a cost, and Little Book Chapter 8 “Path Not Taken” is a remarkable whiskey that more than backs it up.


A bold, complex whiskey that reaches the high point the Little Book Series has become known for, and is also the first time Freddie Noe has focused on rye.

Little Book Chapter 8’s magic is in just how cohesive and rye-forward the final blend turned out. An aspect that cannot be overstated, Chapter 8 is extremely rye-forward and as quintessentially rye as any whiskey, despite not technically qualifying as a rye by legal definition. Because the rye category has yet to be fully honed, there is more opportunity for whiskey makers to deliver something that’s worth paying attention to in the market, but also far fewer attempts are made compared to bourbon. For fans of bold, spicy, complex ryes, Noe really delivers with this one.

The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy its respective company. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
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Written By: Nick Beiter

June 21, 2024
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