Editor’s note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Jim Beam. This is no way, per Our Editorial Policies, affected the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking on the Buy link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small referral payment that helps support, not influence, our editing and other costs.
Freddy Noe IV was five years old when his grandfather, who nicknamed him Booker, retired from the role of Jim Beam Master Distillery. It only meant that young Freddy, who quickly earned the nickname the Little Book, had more time to go fishing with his grandfather and follow him around the Beam Distillery.
A decade and a half passed, after Booker Noe’s death, before it occurred to Freddy’s mind that he might want to get into the family business himself. His father, Fred Noe, had then taken a major distillery, and Freddy went to work learning how to make whiskey and operating a distillery.
Part of learning the ropes is developing his own sign, according to his dictates. Enter the Little Book, an annual edition that Freddy Noe started in 2017 as a tribute to his grandfather. The bottle and label look similar to the Booker Bourbon – and Freddy loves to talk about the commitment to making things the “beam way” – but what’s inside the bottles so far has demonstrated the independence and level of creativity of each Freddy.
Instead of straight bourbons, the little book versions were a mixtape. Chapter five comes with the name “Invitation,” which Noe says prompts whiskey drinkers to expand their tastes, break out of the ordinary, and drink something unexpected.
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The fifth chapter of the Little Book is nothing short of ordinary, featuring malted rye along with a blend of small and large bourbons. For this version, Noe blended:
- A two-year-old straight bourbon is drizzled into the barrel at a much lower proof point than the typical 125. This “standout ingredient” is intended to balance out the strong oak flavors of older whiskeys.
- Three-year-old salted rye is designed to add smoky and peppery notes.
- Five-year-old bourbon with “hints of vanilla and corn sweetness on the nose and a smooth finish.”
- 15-year-old bourbon with more intense barrel flavours.
Each chapter of the little book aims to present “new and unique combinations – the first of their kind in the world.” [Noe] Family,” according to the Little Book website. “Uncut, unfiltered, and always unique, each limited edition offers Freddie the opportunity to pursue his curiosity to create a new taste profile.”
His flair features come in a bit pricey, but there’s no denying that they’re still pretty interesting.
Tasting Notes: The Little Book Chapter Five: The Invitation
Vital stats: a mixture of three bourbon and salted rye; 116.8 proof / 58.4% alcohol by volume; MSRP of $125 for a 750ml bottle, but expect to pay much more in secondary markets.
appearance: Golden amber in colour, with whiskey looking sticky and leaving prominent legs gliding slowly down the sides of the glass.
nose: Black cherry, plum, butter apple, and something as fuzzy as marzipan. After sticking my nose into the cup for extended periods of time, I found cinnamon and citrus leaves as well.
palate: Rich and creamy vanilla, with the amazing spice of nutmeg. The middle of the palate serves up the kinds of dried fruits you might find on a charcuterie board – figs and apricots in particular. The finish is long and warm, ending with hints of brown sugar.
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On Instagram and Twitter, Freddie Noe’s username is @beamgeneration8 – a sure sign that the eighth generation Distiller and great, great-grandson of Jim Beam isn’t shy about his family’s legacy. He leans inward, if anything, and accepts the stress that comes with name recognition. I can’t speak to all the previous little book chapters, but the 5th edition is a fun edition that’s without a doubt part of the Beam family while adding something new and distinct. The fifth chapter nicely balances sweet and spicy, woody and grainy, between Bem’s past and possibly his future.