For decades, “blended” has been a curse word in American whiskey-making. Freddie Noe, son of Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, is trying his best to change that.
Launched in 2017, Freddie’s annually released Little Book line is one of very few premier American blended whiskey labels. Though embraced as an art form in Japanese whisky culture, blending in American whiskey has long been code for low quality. Some blame belongs to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s definition of blended whiskey, which demands whiskey make up only 20 percent of the mixture. For consumers, the minimum 20 percent definition came to mean anything with “blended” on the bottle was filled with a host of cheap, unaged grain spirit.
Little Book goes the other direction. Instead of using legal definitions as a means to sell watered down spirit, Noe’s Little Book is a blend of higher-end booze. His latest, dubbed “The Road Home,” is an all-Jim Beam bourbon blend of 9-year-old Knob Creek, 9-year-old Basil Hayden’s, 11-year-old Booker’s and 12-year-old Baker’s. Each whiskey blended at barrel-proof and carries an age statement that matches or exceeds the highest we’ve seen for the brand. It’s also the first Little Book release to reveal the source of the whiskeys in the blend (previous releases made age statements and whiskey types available, but not sources).
Exact percentages aren’t available, but Esquire reports that Knob Creek is the largest contributor, with by Baker’s, Basil Hayden’s and Booker’s making up the rest.
Little Book “The Road Home” is available in limited quantities nationwide at $125 retail.
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