Friday, July 15, 2016

The Bold and the Beautiful Review of the Limited Edition Booker's Rye Whiskey

Once the announcement was made that Jim Beam was going to produce the first 13 year old, barrel proof rye under the Booker’s label, my initial (much like everyone reading this) was “Gotta have it” & “When is the release?”  This is of course based on my undying love for rye at this stage of my affair with whiskey paired with a deep respect and appreciation for the quality of the Booker’s bourbon.  Periodic releases at varying proof create uniqueness to the Booker’s bourbon.  Each time a new batch is released, we are able to experience distinct flavors developed over the 6-8 years it took to mature.  Something that may never again be replicated.  The bourbon is further elevated through un-cut, non chill-filtered bottling.  There are no indications that this will be copied with the Booker’s rye so take this opportunity to sample a treasure of the whiskey world.  

This bold rye coming in at 136.2 proof is a tribute to Booker Noe.  Mr. Noe originated the small batch collection under the Jim Beam moniker and before his passing personally selected these bottlings – initially only for friends and family.  In the early 90’s, he let the public in on a secret – the true essence of bourbon comes straight from the barrel.   As you know, this will be a much sought limited edition package.  The retail price hovers around $300 if you are able to track it down.  Let me describe to you in the following notes why it is worth the search – even if just for a sample.  

Nose – wet wood.  I recall a time that I had the opportunity to visit a distillery on my dad’s birthday.  We watched them dump a barrel and the smell was one of those memories I hope to never forget.  This nose reminded me of that perfect moment.  The aroma was so strong that after it was poured, the waft was so tempting that I just couldn’t wait for the first sip.  

Color – unique and almost blood red.  The 13+ years of contact this juice had with the wood really imparted a beautiful color and deep maple syrup hue

1st Sip (straight) – immediate flavor bomb.  I was tasting notes that I had never experienced before in a rye.  I was trying to write as fast as possible.  The full flavored and rich whiskey engulfs your entire mouth with flavors of baked bread and unripe red fruits.  The flavors are complex.  Simultaneously, your mind is telling you that you want to sense sweetness but there are so many savory qualities to this drink.  As the whiskey breathes, you get notes of baked fruit accented with herbal notes of sage and thyme.  The finish is long with a bitter finale.  

2nd drink (added a small ice cube) – when you add water or ice to this beauty, it opens like your summer garden.  The nose exposes sweet red berries and now you are really getting the sense of the sugars of the oak.  The palate is extraordinarily long.  The lowered proof is softened to sour cherry, burnt bread and caramelized sugar with a final punch of cracked black pepper.

It is crucial to enjoy this beautiful spirit first without ice – exactly how Mr Noe intended.  Then, I suggest nothing but the smallest of ice cubes to see how the flavors and the intricate nature of this rye evolve.  Enjoy!

Where to find it:  Good Luck!