When I recently received an invitation to celebrate Booker Rye Whiskey of the Year win in Jim Murrays whiskey bible, I immediately said yes because I knew it was going to be an experience not to be missed.
1) What is Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible?
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is the world’s leading whisky guide, featuring thousands of detailed tasting notes for the world’s whiskies, including brands both large and small. Published annually, each edition features reviews of the newest whiskey releases and each year, only one whiskey is selected to hold the prestigious title of “World Whisky of the Year.” For a full list of winners or to purchase a copy of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2017, visit http://whiskybible.com/dram-good-book-shop/.
2) Why did Booker’s Rye win?
Whisky expert and author Jim Murray tasted 1,241 new whiskies to select those that would receive top honors and accolades for his 14th annual edition of Whisky Bible. All whiskies tasted were judged on nose, taste, finish and balance. Of the vast array of whiskies entered, Booker’s Rye was lauded by Murray as “a simply a staggering example of a magnificent rye showing exactly what genius in terms of whiskey actually means.”
3) What makes Booker’s Rye so special?
Barreled as a small batch late in the life of legendary Beam family distiller, Booker Noe, Booker’s Rye features a unique, never-before-released rye mash bill and is considered one of Booker’s Noe’s greatest and final experiments to date. Aged more than 13 years and bottled uncut and unfiltered1, Booker’s Rye is an extremely rare limited-edition whiskey and the first-ever rye release from Booker’s Bourbon.
4) Where can I find it?
To find a retail store, bar or restaurant near you that carries Booker’s Rye, use our product locator at http://www.bookersbourbon.com/locator/. Or, enjoy one of our other great rye whiskies including Knob Creek Rye, Jim Beam Rye, Old Overholt, Canadian Club 100% Rye or Alberta Rye Dark Batch.
5) How much does it cost?
Booker’s Rye was released in May 2016 with a suggested retail price of $300 in the US, though prices may vary by state. Due to the incredible demand for this special, rare whisky – further driven by this prestigious honor – consumers may encounter significantly higher prices at the retail level.
6) Why can’t I find it?
Barreled as a small, experimental rye whiskey of less than 100 barrels, Booker’s Rye was released in limited quantities earlier this year and immediately met with high acclaim and demand by whiskey enthusiasts across the country. As such, availability may be extremely limited.
7) What can I get that’s similar?
While Booker’s Rye may be difficult to find, Beam Suntory is proud to offer consumers a vast portfolio other award-winning rye whiskies, including Knob Creek Rye – which received the Worldwide Whisky Trophy at the 2016 International Wine & Spirit Competition – Jim Beam Rye, Canadian Club 100% Rye and Old Overholt. Fans looking to enjoy an uncut, unfiltered whiskey can purchase the latest release from Booker’s Bourbon 2016 Batch Collection – Booker’s Batch 2016-05, “Off Your Rocker,” – which was released in September.
8) Why did Booker’s Bourbon decide to release a rye whiskey?
Booker Noe was known for his big thinking and spirit of innovation and experimentation. The rye grain in particular fascinated Booker because it was small and tricky to work with, and it posed quite the challenge. He never backed down from one of those, so he spent years working with rye until he felt he got it just right. And, in 2003, he felt he did, and laid down a very limited number of barrels for a rye whiskey – some of the last barrels he ever laid down. Booker’s Rye is the award-winning result.
9) When was Booker’s Rye released, and how many bottles/cases were available?
Booker’s Rye was released in extremely limited quantities in May 2016. It was made from less than 100 barrels total, about half the size of Booker’s 25th Anniversary Bourbon.
10) How is the mash bill for Booker’s Rye different than other rye mash bills that Beam uses? What percentage of the mash bill is made up of Rye?
Booker’s Rye is made using an entirely new rye mash bill that is unique only to this release. It features a higher percentage of rye than other rye whiskies within our portfolio.
11) Were all the barrels for this release dumped, or are there some remaining?
This release is a one-time offering, made up of a very limited number of barrels laid down by Booker Noe back in 2003 — some of his last.
12) Where were the barrels for Booker’s Rye aged, and why were they aged there?
The barrels for Booker’s Rye were aged in some of Booker Noe’s favorite rack houses – D and E. He liked the way the sun hit both sides of the rack houses each day when it rose and set. Booker preferred the middle — or center cut — of the rack houses, which was his sweet spot for aging his namesake bourbon.
13) Does the decision to release a rye whiskey have anything to do with the growth within the rye category? Does Beam anticipate releasing another rye extension for this brand?
We are certainly excited about the growth in the rye category and are thrilled to be able to provide fans with a unique, uncut rye whiskey with all of the robust flavor they have come to know and love from Booker’s. Staying true to Booker’s tradition of innovation, Master Distiller Fred Noe is always tasting barrels and experimenting with different liquids. He continues to look for unique offerings to introduce while remaining true to Booker’s legacy and the iconic whiskey he created more than 25 years ago.
14) Are there more anticipated limited edition releases in the works from the brand in the coming years?
We are continuing to launch new batches in the Booker’s Bourbon 2016 Batch Collection, including the latest Booker’s Batch 2016-05, “Off Your Rocker,” which was released in September. Given the increasing enthusiasm our fans have for limited edition offerings, we look forward to exploring additional limited edition offerings in the future, with Fred Noe and his son Freddie carrying on the legacy of innovations and quality that Booker Noe founded this brand on many years ago.
15) Was the Booker’s Roundtable included in selecting this whiskey?
While the Booker’s Roundtable is involved in working with Fred Noe to select Booker’s Bourbon releases, they were not involved in choosing Booker’s Rye. Booker’s Rye came from a very small set of barrels laid down by Booker Noe in 2003 and then bottled and released by his son Fred Noe in 2016.
16) With the recent announcement of the Knob Creek age-statement removal, does Booker’s also have imbalanced aging stocks, and will there be a shortage as a result of this global news about Booker’s Rye?
Booker’s Bourbon has always been produced and released in small batches, pulled from the center cut of the rackhouses, and personally tasted and selected by Fred Noe. Each batch is limited and often sells out at retail. Booker’s Bourbon has plenty of aging stocks, and will not be affected by the Knob Creek label update, nor this incredible honor for Booker’s Rye Whiskey. Booker’s Rye, however, was a one- time release and has no additional aging stock.
Trying the other Amazing Whiskey’s …
by Arrnott Olssen
Editor Rogue Homme