Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Baker’s Small Batch Bourbon Review

Baker’s Small Batch Bourbon, 7 Years Old, 53.5% abv (107 Proof), $42-48

Baker’s is our third review from the Jim Beam Small Batch collection consisting of Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek Small Batch, and Booker’s. Aged 7 years, it’s one of the 2 youngest of the four, but it packs a considerable punch in terms of alcohol (107 proof).

Color: Deep Copper

Nose: The nose is tight to start. Caramel, roasted nuts, ripe banana, vanilla bean, cocoa, polished wood, and cedar come forward if left to sit for a spell. Try it neat before adding any water. In fact, if you can avoid it, I think experiencing this one neat is the best way to go.

Palate: I love the mouth feel – it’s thick, syrupy, and coating. Flavors of chewy caramel, vanilla custard, banana, and dried dark fruits abound. All of that is lifted by toasted nuts, sweet spices and resiny oak. This where the 107 proof has been used to “cut through” a very dense, sweet bourbon. Again, I preferred it neat.

Finish: Medium-long with sweetness of dried fruit, caramel and allspice. An interesting peppery quality emerges as well.

Overall: Baker’s is a very good bourbon, and I do mean very good. Having reviewed both Knob Creek Small Batch and Basil Hayden’s from the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, Baker’s is definitely different. It has more sweetness, weight, and less rye forward flavor than Basil. It’s also much less oaky and dry than Knob Creek. My absolute biggest complaint is the price. At well over $40 in some parts, it’s moving into competition with a lot of fantastic American Whiskeys. Regardless, it’s good stuff if you love big, sweet, rich pours of whiskey.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.6 (Very Good/Excellent)


  1. I had Baker’s on Father’s Day last year at a nice restaurant on Galveston Bay. Dang good stuff. Not sure it is worth $40, though, as you say. The $32 for the Basil Hayden’s is something I would do, since it is a very unique product. I guess Beam sells enough of all their products at their current prices to make them happy, and with the increased cost of nearly everything in the last 2 years price reductions aren’t likely.

  2. Loved this review. Spot on. Id love to see you review the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel to see if its really worth the money. I started like most people drinking Jack and Cokes. Since evolved into finer whiskeys. Recently got the EWSB 2000, EC12 Year, and the Old Weller Antique 107. I would say the EWSB 2000 has been my favorite so far. But since my first love was Jack Id love to see you review the JDSB and maybe even Gentleman Jack.

  3. Great review on Baker’s.I think it’s an excellent whiskey also.Don’t buy it often enough.One note probably the least popular of the small batch collection,but worth it.

  4. You should throw in Gentleman Jack also on your list. How would you say it compares to George Dickel #12?

  5. Alan, I am definitely looking to work in some more Tennessee Whiskey. I’ve neglected them save George Dickel No. 12. I will work on that soon. But I can tell you that I favor GD #12 by a reasonable margin.

  6. Well turns out I went into the city and found the JDSB for 40.99. Thats was 10 bucks cheaper than my local place. So I had to buy it. And I fricken love it. Love to hear what you have to say about it.

  7. I tend to think that the Baker’s is unique in its own way. It’s my favorite of the SB line from Jim. Nothing else I’ve tasted has that toasted hazelnut type flavor to it. Very nice indeed. I’ll drink Grand-dad over BH, but I can’t say I know of another bourbon with quite the profile of Baker’s.

  8. Dave, I think I can probably agree with that. I didn’t find it over the top unique, but I agree with what you are saying. I cannot name a bourbon with a more pronounced nuttiness to it.

  9. One of my favorites. It’s sweet and thick and at a proof I like. Too bad my home state of PA is dropping it from the “State Stores.”

  10. Ethan. I was just in Phily a few weeks back, and I was amazed all the liquor stores are state owned. No local places or mom and pop stores.

  11. Adam, I should be getting into some more Tennessee Whiskey soon. I appreciate yours and everyone else’s patience with me as I get through some of these next few reviews. I’ll then be able to turn my attention to my great state for a closer look.

  12. Sounds good Jason. Keep up the good work.

  13. Jason, while I really did like the Dickel No. 12 I had about 1 1/2 years ago, the bottle of No. 8 I have had at the house for 6 months now has been relegated to mixing for cough medicine. Very young tasting..I was disappointed.

  14. Texas I tend to agree. I don’t dislike it at all, but it’s not in the caliber of No. 12.

  15. Love your site! I am a relative newbie to the world of good bourbon. In the last year, I went straight from beer to bourbon (no Jack and Coke bridge) and I find SMM to be a great resource.

    I have been meandering through the Beam Small Batch Collection over the last few months and have yet to get to Bakers and BH. Based on your reviews I’m intrigued. I just dove in to my first bottle of Booker’s and BAM…what a sledgehammer of a bourbon! I’d be interested in your take.
    Based on preliminary results and some research I think it’s going to be hard to top Knob Creek SB. What wonderful marriage of punch and polish. I have yet to read a negative word. Even the “Whisky Snobs” seem to be taking notice!

  16. Knob Creek Small Batch is great stuff Ted. Their new Single Barrel is ridiculously good though. Really awesome stuff. Thanks for coming to the site and commenting. I do appreciate it!

  17. I was refering to the Single Barrel…not paying attention to the abbreviation. The single barrel IS out of this world. I’ll be going backl to it after my Booker’s is gone.

  18. Oh, gotcha Ted. It’s terrific indeed.

  19. I’m having some Baker’s right now…very good indeed! I really enjoy your reviews, they’re quite informative and you obviously know whereof you speak. My question is, I wonder about (and please excuse the word) any coloring in bourbons: is there a way we enthusiasts can benchmark its use in general? One would hope that in the case of finer, aged spirit it’s the barrel and only the barrel that imparts rich color, but this might be a vain hope, I’m sure. You always include color descriptors in the reviews – what are your thoughts? (I hope I’m not opening a big can of worms here with my first post!!)

  20. Bob, Baker’s is a very nice whiskey. Also, all questions are welcome, whether they open cans of worms or not. Don’t ever hesitate to ask anything.

    I did want to clarify your question first. Just so I’m clear, are you asking whether or not bourbon is artificially colored or are you asking more about what color can tell us?

    From an adding color standpont, bourbon cannot have any artificial coloring of any kind. It gets 100% of it’s color from the barrel. New make spirit that is soon to be called bourbon with a bit of time, is crystal clear coming off the still. The barrel does its thing from there. Again, if this is not what you are asking, I do apologize. Please clarify and I’ll be happy to respond. Thanks for commenting!

  21. Jason, good to know that artificial color plays no part in the making of bourbon. But to clarify, I guess I am indeed wondering what we can generally tell about a given bourbon from its color (variety of corn/rye/other grain? time in cask? variations in temperature over time? any other factors?). Thanks!

  22. [oops, I wrote “cask” – meant to write “barrel”, of course – o.k., I’m a scotch lover too!]

  23. Bob, I’m late responding to this. Very sorry! Color is a hard one. Look at a George T. Stagg for instance – it has loads of color- it’s molasses dark almost and it tastes rich and intense and loaded with flavor. Black Maple Hill Small Batch in comparison is golden hued and it tastes younger, less deep and rich. So yes, with bourbon color can indicate something maybe longer aged, or higher proofed, but this is a very inexact indicator.

  24. For me, I think Baker’s is the best of the Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbons. While Booker’s is in your face and all balls and hellfire, Baker’s takes a (comparably) laid back, smoother, more balanced approach. Complexity of flavor without needing that extra 20 proof.

  25. I watched your review and it was spot on! I’m Baker’s nephew and reading the comments it sounds as though people are describing the men themselves (Booker & Baker). Booker was a boisterious, impatient at times type of person, Baker is more laid back but can be serious and firm. The borbouns are named correctly. They match the men they were named for.

  26. This sounds fantastic, can’t way to give this a try just had knob creek small batch.

    The only issue I have is that in my area there is a 7 dollar difference on the bakers and bookers making it a hard choice.

  27. Can you suggest a couple of the “fantastic American Whisky’s” I can compare with Bakers? Thanks

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