Little Book: All Chapters Reviewed
With the sixth bottle in the series of annual releases under the belt, the one and only Freddie Noe a name that likely needs no introduction, has continued to find his way in putting together unique custom blends that change with every expression. At this point the blends have included most categories of domestic whiskeys and some juice from Canada as well. Bottled at cask strength, the bourbon is a tribute to Freddie's grandad, Booker, who left some large shoes for Freddie to fill as a part of a great bourbon lineage. Booker nicknamed Freddie "Little Book" which is where the name for the brand derives. Each annual release is called a "chapter" and for me, I hate reading, but I can really get sucked into this kind of "book."
Who Makes Little Book Whiskey?
Little Book Bourbon is an annual whiskey series blended by Freddie Noe, produced by James B. Beam Distilling Company. Not to be confused with Booker's, a sister brand in the Beam family of brands, which is similar, but different. With numerous releases each year in the Booker's lineup they all tend to blur together to be honest. Little Book is a line developed as a limited run showcase brand and likely helps to allay any complaints about the need for something more unique from the never-ending Booker's series.
Little Book, Chapter 1 "The Easy"
A lot of things stand out to me about this first batch, notably the labeling which you'll see is different than all the releases that follow in that "chapters" evolved following this release which was just referred to as a batch, and the composition of the blend isn't provided in as much detail. I've included the specifics below in case you were wondering. The first bottling takes its name from what the Beam family is known for - great bourbon whiskey. The final blend for this release was the culmination of a year of effort blending more than 25 different whiskies before landing on this specific combination.
4-year uncut and unfiltered bourbon whiskey
13-year uncut and unfiltered true corn whiskey
Nearly 6-year uncut and unfiltered 100% malt whiskey
Nearly 6-year uncut and unfiltered high rye whiskey
The foray of Little Book served as an introduction to the companies next generation master distiller Freddie, and was for the time, certainly pushing the envelope in terms of the "typical" whiskey on the market. This is one of those polarizing type drams, you'll likely find yourself on one side or the other in a love/hate relationship with the grain forward flavor profile.
Little Book, Chapter 2 "Noe Simple Task"
Chapter 2 in the series derives its name from the laborious effort that was involved in making this particular blend, experimenting with nearly forty different recipes before finally arriving at this combination. Interestingly, this release draws on amongst other things, a 40-year Canadian whiskey. Noe in travelling to some of the Canadian distilleries took to the fruit and floral notes that were very forward in some of their whiskies. This dram is a marriage between the two worlds - Kentucky and Canada - and attempts to pull forward the fruit and floral notes that served as inspiration for this bottling. What results is a different beast altogether, with a lighter flavor profile that carries forward the sweeter and fruity notes that Noe sought to deliver. Likely another love or hate dram for many, but for the group of folks that enjoy a foray into the sweeter/fruity side of things this is going to be your jam.
Little Book, Chapter 3 "The Road Home"
This release has a pretty cool backstory to it, with Noe finding a sentimental way to pay tribute to his grandfather having a few releases under belt. For this bottling, Freddie took and blended four bourbons that his grandfather created, Baker's, Basil Hayden's Booker's, and Knob Creek - all from the original small batch collection. The name refers to the road that both he, and his grandfather before him, would drive back and forth to the distillery. To me, this particular blend feels like a pull from my Infinity Bottle at home, but just curated by someone with a lot more gravitas! This is a high proof, bold bourbon that most are really going to enjoy. What's also unique is that the included bourbons are not normally offered at cask strength and are from aged barrels that aren't available to the average joe.
Little Book, Chapter 4 "Lessons Honored"
Paying tribute to Freddie's dad, Fred, "Lesson's Honored" is about tradition and life and the learnings passed down from father to son. Even the neck tag is a tribute as blue is the color of Fred's favorite sports team. I went back to this one on my shelf before writing this, and although the nose is a bit deceiving suggesting its quite separate from many other Booker's type drams, on the tongue however it might as well be a Booker's. Expect this to run hot. If an explosion of cinnamon and red pepper heat sounds like your thing, then you've just found your perfect bottle. For me, it's a bit heavy on the flavor, err, really heavy as a matter of fact...I even added a few drops of water and couldn't tame this dram. I like having this on the shelf as it bookends one extreme of the flavor spectrum and draw a certain amount of satisfaction as folks attempt to keep a straight face who may otherwise not be inclined to drink at this proof level.
Little Book, Chapter 5 "The Invitation"
With the fifth release in the series, Freddie invites folks to expand their palates showcasing the innovation of the brand and specifically highlights some lower aged whiskies, with the base of this blend coming from a 2-year Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. This particular chapter received rather mixed reviews, and I have to admit, I'm not sure where the shade is coming from as this one, I found to be quite an enjoyable pour. It has a lot going on, shocker, but it holds onto a nice oaky note that keeps it rather consistent throughout.
Little Book, Chapter 6 "To the Finish"
Turning the page if you will, the latest offering in the line of Little Book's, this chapter focuses on different finishing techniques in the various whiskies that make up the blend. Drawing on cherry, apple, hickory, and maple, it initially invites the question, how does that come together in a complementary fashion? Setting that aside is the challenge, or perhaps opportunity, that comes with utilizing such young whiskies. So, does it deliver? Yes. Another stand out in the series; this is yet another blended masterpiece that will likely be viewed by many as a win given how it all comes together.
Little Book Cliff Notes
In summary, Little Book offers a range of opportunities to experience quite a varied set of blended whiskies which appeal in some way, shape or form to most whisky lovers, though it's unlikely that you're going to like every chapter as there are some ups and downs along the journey these past six years. For current pricing on the secondary for any of the Little Book offerings make sure to check out the Bourbon Blue Book. For more deep dives into all things bourbon, don't be shy, navigate back to our main blog page and sign up for our weekly email by clicking here. While you're there poke around and find all you need to know (and then some) about popular bourbon brands, bourbon knowledge and more. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates, contests, and special bourbon features. Click below to download one of our tasting sheets which has exactly what you need to sample all six Little Book's in your next bourbon flight!