Last year we brought you a review of the introductory batch of Little Book – “The Easy,” the Booker’s-like blended whiskey created by Freddie Noe (grandson of Booker Noe, and son of current Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe) of Jim Beam. “Little Book” was Freddie’s nick-name given to him by Booker. For more on the Noe heritage at Jim Beam, and relation to Jim Beam himself, check out our prior review.
The original “The Easy” batch was met with mixed reviews. Whisky Advocate named it the #11 “Top 20 Whiskies of 2017.” Fred Minnick called “The Easy” one of the best blends of 2017. We didn’t exactly agree. We were intrigued by the style and had high hopes for future batches, but “The Easy” received merely “satisfactory” (3/5) scores in our Overall and Value categories. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t in any of our Top 10 lists for 2017.
This year, Freddie Noe continues with a second annual release of blended, “uncut and unfiltered” whiskey. This year’s batch (or “chapter,” as Beam calls it) is an unusual blend of Kentucky Straight Rye (8-year at 119.8 proof), Canadian Rye (13-year at 111.9 proof) and Canadian whiskey (40-year corn whiskey at 137.8 proof). The quantities and sources are not disclosed.
Little Book – Chapter 2, “Noe Small Task” (118.8 Proof)
Nose: Corn bread followed by rye bread; musty, with old leather; green and red apple; sawdust and dry oak; baking spice. While this does show some age, it has a strong corniness throughout. (2.5/5)
Palate: Bright pepper and rye spice; sharp Fuji apple; sharp oak; vanilla wafers; caramel drizzle; more cinnamon and nutmeg. Pretty warm, even for its proof, but otherwise pretty tasty. (3.5/5)
Finish: This is the best part of the experience. Vanilla and caramel with a good rye spice throughout; leather and old book; some background apple and pear; nice aged oak that provides a solid backing. Medium-long. A lingering fresh-sawed oak. Some rise and fall to the finish, which makes you want to go back for more. (4/5)
Overall: While I didn’t love the nose, I was intrigued by the flavor combinations found on the palate and finish. They are warm, with fruit and spice, and a backing of nicely aged “crisp” oak that doesn’t muddy the flavors whatsoever. An overall more than satisfying experience, and a batch that I prefer of Chapter 1, “The Easy.” (3.5/5)
Value: While I do like the juice, I’m not impressed with Beam raising the price on this from $70 for Batch 1 one year ago, to $100 for this Batch 2. However, I can see the value here in the complexity of the rye combined with the age of the corn whiskey. Overall, I’m satisfied with the price. (3/5).
“An overall more than satisfying experience, and a batch that I prefer of Chapter 1, ‘The Easy.'”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.