I was surprised when I reached the end of Bill's missive (as a rule, he's relentlessly upbeat) that he was sharing sad news. Booker Noe, the grandson of Colonel Jim Beam who ran the Jim Beam distillery for fifty years, passed away two weeks ago. Beam is the biggest competitor for Maker's Mark, but Bill wrote about Booker as though he was losing a brother.
From my perspective, there's no competition. Jim Beam's flagship bourbon is a fine "utility" whisky; I wouldn't choose to drink it straight, but I'll happily mix it with Coke or use it in other ways. Maker's is my day-to-day sipping bourbon of choice. But Beam's series of "boutique" bourbons includes some of the best examples of sour mash I've ever tasted. The best of them is named for Mr. Noe. "Booker's" is sold in a tall, round bottle (for some reason, most bourbon comes in squared bottles) packaged in its own branded wooden box. It's about $50 a bottle, and well worth it.
So, it doesn't quite fit the evening's Mexican theme, but tonight I'll be pulling out my bottle of Booker's to share with friends, and to toast the life of Booker Noe.