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Whisky Advocate’s 23rd Annual American Whiskey of the Year Award

December 10th, 2016

Booker’s Rye, 68.1%, $300

Booker Noe accomplished many things in his career. When he passed away in 2004, rye whiskey was low on the list. Now, that has changed.

Before he died, Booker filled 100 barrels that aged for 13 years in Jim Beam warehouses D and E. The end result is this year’s American Whiskey of the Year, which ranks among the best whiskeys Booker ever made. In addition to high scores, these awards factor in trendsetting, ingenuity, and creativity, too. Plus, there’s a nostalgia factor: this whiskey is one of our last connections to American whiskey’s first “rock star” distiller.

bookers-rye-bottle-box-shotAs I tasted the crème brûlée, with a sultry smokiness, raw honey, and nutmeg dusting I couldn’t help but think, “What if Booker Noe did the same for rye that he did for bourbon?”

MGP’s 95% rye mashbills dominated the rye resurgence, and many new consumers assume rye should taste like those MGP products. We need more variety in American rye, and Booker’s Rye is a great model for new distillers and Kentucky to follow.

Remember these words, distillers: uncut and unfiltered.

The natural essence of Booker’s Rye is more pronounced than a filtered 90-proof rye. Booker’s layers the palate with a robust butteriness that’s difficult to obtain with chill filtration. When it’s uncut like this, a drop of water doesn’t just dilute, it creates a completely new tasting experience. In the small but mighty category of unfiltered and uncut rye, Booker’s demonstrates complexity, nuance, and boldness.

Booker would be proud of the final outcome of his little rye experiment.—Fred Minnick

Whisky Advocate’s 23rd Annual Canadian Whisky of the Year Award will be announced tomorrow. Watch this space!

11 Responses to “Whisky Advocate’s 23rd Annual American Whiskey of the Year Award”

  1. John Hansell says:

    Two other American whiskeys on our short list: William Larue Weller and, for the cost conscious, Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style. Also, for the value minded, 1792 Full Proof was delicious!

  2. Frank Gore says:

    Too bad Beam is raising the price of Bookers to $100 and cutting protein by 1/3. Booker might be turning over in his grave RIP Big Man

  3. Brad Kaplan says:

    I’m with you on this, despite the price tag. And the OF 1920 was a very pleasant surprise.

  4. Mitch says:

    Another notch in the post for Beam Suntory to justify yesterday’s news of an 80% price hike on Booker’s bourbon, I suppose. This whiskey was tasty, but I suspect that we will look back on its legacy with anything but fond memories as consumers.

    On another note, can we please get separate bourbon and rye awards next year? It’s well past time for that to happen.

    • Fred Minnick says:

      Hi, Mitch,
      When I broke that Booker’s price increase on Twitter yesterday, I could hear my financial advisor’s voice: “Don’t you dare go buy up the rest of the bottles at Prospect Party Center.” I actually resisted the temptation, albeit $42 was nice enough to snap a picture.
      The price change doesn’t take away from this beautiful rye. It’s hard to separate the two, I know, but I’ll always cherish this pour. Cheers!

  5. Edwin V. says:

    Booker’a Rye is a worthy Whiskey of the Year and well worth the price at 13yrs. old and only 100 barrels in production. It’s a fine tribute and fitting example what made Booker such a great Master Distiller.

  6. Murphious says:

    I think i’ll stick to Barterhouse and others in the Orphan Barrel line. Call me frugal AND cynical, but how do we really know the “story” behind these barrels is true? Or that these $300 bottles contain those contents? Sorry, i want to see them pop the bungs and bottle it before forking over “only” $300.

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