Little Book Chapter 2: "Noe Simple Task"
Classification: Blended Straight Whiskey
Company: Beam Suntory
Distillery: Blend of whiskeys from Jim Beam and Canadian distilleries owned by Beam Suntory
Released: September 2018
Age: NAS (blend of 8, 13, and 40 year old whiskeys)
Mashbill: Undisclosed (proprietary blend of three whiskeys - 8 year Kentucky straight rye at 119.8 proof, 13 year Canadian rye at 111.9 proof, and 40 year Canadian 100% corn whisky at 137.8 proof)
Color: Dark Gold
MSRP: $100 (2018)
Little Book is an ongoing annual release of from Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam family member and son of current Beam master distiller, Fred Noe. This year’s edition, Chapter 02, has been titled “Noe Simple Task.” Chapter 02 is a unique blend of whiskeys - an 8 year Kentucky straight rye, 13 year Canadian rye, and 40 year Canadian 100% corn whisky. The blend is bottled uncut at 118.8 proof, and is available nationwide.
A delicate bouquet of apples, summer fruits, and herbal aromas greets the senses. It has a light but sweet presence, with an underlying base of ethanol that cannot be ignored. While the ethanol doesn’t completely detract from the experience, it prevents the whiskey’s nose from realizing its full potential.
Ultra sweet, the sip leads with raisins and summer fruits. Butterscotch and honey further give way to a spicy rye note. Floral undertones run throughout. The palate is as playful as it is unexpected and full of flavor. Rolling around in the mouth brings forth a bit more spice, but it remains very sweet overall. It’s incredibly light and approachable given the proof, bringing an unexpected arrangement of flavors into the picture in an enjoyable way.
A crack of spice at first, it quickly diminishes, focusing again on the sweeter flavors. Honey and butterscotch burst back into the forefront, but they trail off, transitioning from sweet to dry. The blast of more robust flavors is quick, but their presence manages to linger leaving a pleasant aftertaste.
“I created Little Book as an honor to my granddaddy, Booker and our shared love for creating unique blends to share with the world.” This phrase is written prominently on the Little Book label, signed by Freddie Noe. In the bottle this year is a blend of 8 year old Kentucky straight rye along with two Canadian whiskeys - a 13 year rye and 40 year 100% corn based whiskey.
The blend percentages aren’t disclosed, but coming in at 118.8 proof relative to the proofs of the three whiskeys in the blend suggests the 8 year Kentucky straight rye is potentially a high portion. It is, however, possible that it’s not. The flavor profile alludes to the possibility that Little Book Chapter 02 is an entirely different animal from a typical Kentucky straight rye, potentially a high percentage of Canadian whiskey - maybe there’s more 40 year old 100% corn whiskey than would be assumed.
No different than Chapter 01, Little Book Chapter 02 is priced relatively low when compared to other limited releases from major Kentucky distilleries. While it is a $20 price increase over last year’s $80 price tag, it’s still a low price for a limited release relatively speaking. Considering the polarizing flavor profile, this might still be too much for some. But considering each year’s release will be unique, with Chapter 02 being no exception to that, it’s a reasonable price in today’s frenzied marketplace. If I could go back, I would buy a few more Chapter 01 bottles which were readily available for a time at MSRP. Considering how unique tasting Chapter 02 is, I suspect this year will be the same as Chapter 01 when it comes to availability.
An unexpected flavor profile and reasonable price tag for a limited release makes Little Book Chapter 02 a gamble that will pay off for those who end up liking it.
In a sea of neverending bourbon and whiskey releases, it’s refreshing to see something different. A lighter flavor profile highlighted by sweet notes of fruit, butterscotch, and honey with floral undertones, Little Book Chapter 02 is an approachable whiskey that pushes beyond the boundaries of the expected for a whiskey marketed towards bourbon fans. It accomplishes exactly what the label suggests, and for that reason I applaud Beam and Freddie Noe for living up to their promise. While I do think a lot of bourbon enthusiasts won’t appreciate its not-so-typical flavor profile, for those that do, the good news is it should be reasonably available at MSRP.
The pre-release sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Beam Suntory. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.