Booker’s Rye is one of those bottles that universally has been pegged as the early 2016 Whiskey of the Year… there are a lot of very well respected reviewers and industry folk who believe this. That is a lot of hype for something that MSRPs for $299, but typically trades at around $450 on the secondary market. I also did not want to judge it too quickly, so I tried this bottle several times over the course of the past month drinking it down and experiencing the evolution. Here are my views:
Beautiful packing, easy to open wax, must easier than the regular Booker’s for some reason… Love the green… not sure who decided that rye should be green, but I like it.
Opening the bottle… the color is really deep and dark, very exciting.
Right when you open the bottle, the nose is very hot, you can tell this is going to need some time to settle before truly giving it a full and proper review.
First impressions: very hot nose, licorice sticks, hot cinnamon candy, but just too harsh initially. The palate initially is pretty awesome though, still pretty hot, but a great mouthfeel, with complex texture. Initial read is that it needs to settle down, but has a ton of potential. It’s really hot though.
Two hours later: the nose is still pretty hot, but not as hot as before; cinnamon toast is coming through as well as come anis, cocoa and Twix. The hotness from before has slightly mellowed into a more round warmth, but it’s still hot on the palate and throat–pretty consistent with Booker’s style in general. The mouthfeel and texture have improved since opening.
One day later…. still hot, but not getting burnt orange peel, cloves, cinnamon toast and Skittles. The tongue is ticked by the taste and although the heat it still there, it’s more of a spicy heat than a pure hot heat now. Really getting the cloved aged orange peel on the palate now. There is a thick chewiness to it that coats the tongue, although doesn’t linger as long as I expected. One day later has made a huge difference and hopefully the improvements will continue tomorrow.
Two days later the hotness has finally taken a back seat and is no longer the dominant feature. The warmth in the chest remains but the sweeter notes from the nose and palate are coming through much stronger than anything else.
One month later the hotness in the nose remains, but it is not overwhelming. Licorice, anis, buttered cinnamon toast, Kit-Kat, those dried orange cloves are reall coming out and so is a little bit of blackberry. The mouthfeel is just as good as it always was: chewy, complex, delicious, and long. It’s also very warm and lingers there in a good way.
When I first opened this bottle it was always too hot to drink. The hottness mellows over time, but still remains. This is a very good whiskey, but is it a shoo in for number one of the year? Even if it were $100, I would say no. I enjoy this, but there are already several whiskeys I’ve had this year that I enjoy more, and are certainly cheaper. 93/100.