Monday, August 29, 2016

Stupid Whiskey: Booker's Rye

Some of you will recall that I had an on-line melt-down when I heard that Jim Beam's new 13 year old Booker's Rye would be priced at a whopping $300. To me, this was symptomatic of everything that is wrong with the whiskey world today. That discussion wasn't so much about the whiskey itself as about whiskey's soaring prices. Now I have a sample of this stuff, so let's see if it's truly worth the gargantuan price tag.

Booker's Rye, 13 years old, 68.1% abv ($300)

The nose is understated with light rye and caramel. The palate has sweet hot cocoa, simple syrup and light medicinal notes but not a lot of rye character, which is typical of Beam ryes (though this one is supposed to have a higher rye mashbill than their standard rye). The finish is sweet and mild.

This is a perfectly decent whiskey that's soft and sweet but has very little rye character. As with most Beam rye whiskeys, it's a good rye for people who don't like rye. Those folks who like their whiskey "smooth" will love it.

Is it worth the price? Definitely not for me - not even close, but if people are willing to buy sweet, not very flavorful whiskey for $300, who am I to tell Beam Suntory that the price is too high? Hell, they should probably get some kind of marketing award for convincing anyone to buy this stuff. Welcome to the whiskey world of 2016; please empty your pockets at the door!

Luckily, not every company is following Beam Suntory's lead. Later this week, I'll review a whiskey that's the anti-Booker's Rye in both flavor and price.

Thanks to FussyChicken for the sample.


Richnimrod said...

HA! Tell us what you really think, SKU!
I am with ya' on the ridiculous prices (especially for a very ordinary whiskey) being asked for pretty much any of the Limited Edition stuff nowadays.
I'm not saying the price doesn't reflect the market, because it clearly does if people are paying it, and they seem to be lining up for the privilege. My point is more about the days when the prices reflected the actual production, distribution, and overhead costs... plus a healthy mark-up for the distillery, then another for the distributor, then the retailer got his fair profit... and, of course the ever-present burden of high taxes at every level. Makes a person wonder how the distilleries made any money at all 15-years ago.... or even 5-years ago! ...If today's prices are are to considered "fair". Just sayin'.....

Warren Bobrow said...

Gawd.. and you can still buy Whistle Pig (made in Canada, not Vermont) for less.

tanstaafl2 said...

I certainly didn't think the price was going to match the whiskey in the bottle but that was before I ever opened the bottle. Still, I wanted to try it for myself and did not think I was likely to find it in a bar or get a sample of it so I shelled out the money for it so I could try it (and share with a few others).

It certainly was not manna from heaven (one can always hope!) and I have not yet tried it blind to see if it stands up to other ryes I enjoy but I did not find it to be "not very flavorful" or particularly mild for that matter. I guess every palate is different. Or else I think I was drinking a different whiskey from the one you did!

tanstaafl2 said...

I have to correct myself! I and several others did have it in a blind tasting with other ryes. They included a WhistlePig (the first Boss Hog at 12 3/4 years/134.2 pf), Michters Barrel Proof at 109.2 and Lock, Stock and Barrel at 13 years/101.3 pf. In retrospect I would probably replace the LSB with something like an older single barrel of Smooth Ambler Rye at BP. But finding a Kentucky made barely rye mashbill at anything close to 13 years and at barrel proof for comparison was hard to come up with, at least for me.

In any case the Bookers was noted to be pretty well balanced although on the sweeter side with a touch of oak influence and benefited from a bit of water. But it was the favorite of the four ryes tried by everyone who tried them.

mgmarks said...

I just tasted it and like it very much. Is it worth the money. That is very subjective. To me yes; but I would be much happier with it at $200 less. So I agree the pricing is off the charts. But the rye is great to me.

Anonymous said...

I think they priced it right. So I can get 2 bottles for $600 instead of paying at secondary market $600 for 1 bottle. Look at those btac and pappys, they priced it low for everyone, but can most of us get any of those goodies? no, unless you pay 7x to 10x more money in secondary market.