The second release of Eighth Generation Jim Beam Distiller Freddie Noe’s Little Book whiskey is just as unique and weirdly good as the first. A blend of American and Canadian whiskeys, it’s a heretical but tasty whiskey, and is surprisingly easy to sip at 118 proof. But to really appreciate it, you’ve got to know a little more about what’s in the bottle.
The Little Book project is a sort of learning experience for a master distiller who’s interested in going beyond traditions. Case in point: this very release. You would be hard pressed to find a Kentucky bourbon brand that wanted to blend its straight rye (a precious commodity these days, as demand for rye has skyrocketed in the last decade) with whiskey from another country.
But Noe spent time visiting Beam Suntory’s Canadian siblings a year ago, and when he got home, what he really wanted to do was mess around with combining the two products. “The floral, fruit notes Canadian whiskies achieve really intrigued me, along with the aging and production styles that are so different from what we do here in Kentucky,” Noe said in a press release. “It was a step outside my comfort zone to bring these two worlds of whiskey together.”
The blend, by the way, marries together 13-year-old Canadian rye, 8-year-old Kentucky straight rye, and 40-year-old Canadian whisky (distilled to a high, neutral state—this is what gives all those Canadian blends you’ve ever tasted that soft, creamy mouth feel). All of these were uncut, and unfiltered throughout the entire process.
It’s called “Noe Simple Task” because to get to this final blend, they tried more than three dozen formulas, before finally settling on this one (pretty much the same story that brought us Maker’s 46, for what it’s worth).
Frankly, it’s a surprising dram: fresh and maybe even a bit tangy. The floral, fruity character shows up on the finish and on the nose, but this is a buttery caramel-heavy whiskey with tons of floral sweetness and a nice, rye-forward spicy backbone thanks to all that Canadian rye.
It does an excellent job of integrating the most authentic traits of both whiskeys without getting muddy. It also, importantly, manages to taste quite nice. There’s no denying this stuff is unique; Freddie may not yet have made the best bottle coming out of Jim Beam today, in our opinion, but he’s certainly showing us what (North) American whiskey can taste like. For just shy of $100, it’s easily worth the conversation with your fellow whiskey nerds. And you just might find yourself coming back to the bottle over and over again, like we did. In short, it’s just good, adventurous blending.