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Friday, November 11, 2016

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Rebel Yell Single Barrel 10-year


Wait, wrong image…  Still, in remembrance of the November 10, 1983 release of the Rebel Yell album, it’s high time to review the newest member of the Rebel Yell Bourbon family.

I haven’t been a particular fan of Rebel Yell in the value Bourbon segment.  Years ago I had a small pour of old Stitzel-Weller / Ed Foote Rebel Yell, and that was excellent.  But I haven’t been impressed lately, even with the upgraded Rebel Reserve.  Being the eternal Bourbon optimist, however, I was intrigued by a new release this fall by Luxco of an age-stated 100 proof Rebel Yell.

Bourbon:
Rebel Yell Single Barrel
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery:
Undisclosed (possibly Heaven Hill)

Age:
10 years

ABV:
50% (100 proof)

Cost:
$49.99

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
Deep amber.

Nose:
I really liked the nose.  It goes far beyond the one-dimensional noses of many wheated Bourbons, with more honey and somehow a creamy sensation reminiscent of fresh pancake batter and butter (in addition to the standard caramel and vanilla).  It also has prominent oak and leather, and a tell-tale dark cherry aroma found in some of the classic wheated Bourbons.

Taste:
The ten years of aging appears to have done wonders for Rebel Yell.  It picked up the right amount of brown sugar along with the forecasted dark cherries, caramel, and vanilla, followed by oak, cinnamon, and more leather/tobacco.  Like the nose, it was such a relief to not find one-dimensional flavors.  There’s a lot going on here.

Finish:
The finish was impressive too.  The age is more pronounced here with more oak, char, and leather, and it is more savory than sweet.

Bottom Line

I knew from the first sip that this was going to be a great Bourbon, and now I’m ready to declare Rebel Yell Single Barrel the best new brand of 2016 (non-limited edition special release).  I just hope that Luxco has the stock to keep up so that this doesn’t turn into a limited edition. 

Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale:  4.0

The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Swill.  I might dump the bottle, but will probably save it for my guests who mix with Coke.
2 – Hits the minimum criteria, but given a choice, I’d rather have something else.
3 – Solid Bourbon with only minor shortcomings.  Glad to own and enjoy.
4 – Excellent Bourbon.  Need to be hyper-critical to find flaws.  I’m lucky to have this.
5 – Bourbon perfection.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Four Roses 2016 Limited Edition Small Batch

Whereas OBSV and OESK at Four Roses are often used in blends (and often sought-after in private barrels), the OESO recipe is not typically seen in Limited Edition Small Batches.  However, it’s always part of the standard Small Batch, showing that it is a trusted component of finding a great profile.  The 2016 Limited Edition Small Batch is also Brent Elliott’s inaugural release of this storied line as Master Distiller, so there has been and will continue to be a focus on how this batch of 9258 bottles compares to previous Limited Editions.

Bourbon:
Four Roses 2016 Small Batch Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery:
Four Roses, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Age:
OESO 12 years; OBSV 12 years; OESK 16 years

ABV:
55.6% (111.2 proof)

Cost:
$124.99

Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly sent me a sample
for this review, without any strings attached. 
Thank you.
But I also bought my own bottle from the Four Roses Gift Shop.


Tasting Notes
Appearance:
Standard amber; nothing unexpected.

Nose:
The aromas are predominantly floral and fruity, and in particular light fruits like honey crisp apples and white peaches, with an indication of oak to follow.  Overall it is light and subtle.

Taste:
There’s more light fruit on the palate too, but it combines with a rush of candy sweetness and vanilla cream, along with an interesting balancing act of tart citrus.  Heat on the tongue dissipates as the flavors shift to black pepper, rye spice, and some clove, while maintaining the sweet foundation.

Finish:
Staying true to the aromas and flavors, the finish is sweet too, with great length, and a nice transition to oak and mint for welcome dryness and spice at the very end.

Bottom Line

Master Distiller Brent Elliott has another solid hit at about his one-year anniversary.  As we all know, the Four Roses Limited Editions have set the bar extremely high and not many Bourbons can compare to the recent legendary streak from Four Roses (more than just the back-to-back Limited Editions in 2012 and 2013), but this means that expectations each year are for consensus whiskey of the year.  The 2016 Limited Edition Small Batch probably won’t get those accolades, but it’s a solid pour worthy of its heritage.

Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale:  3.5

The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Swill.  I might dump the bottle, but will probably save it for my guests who mix with Coke.
2 – Hits the minimum criteria, but given a choice, I’d rather have something else.
3 – Solid Bourbon with only minor shortcomings.  Glad to own and enjoy.
4 – Excellent Bourbon.  Need to be hyper-critical to find flaws.  I’m lucky to have this.
5 – Bourbon perfection.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Working in a Distillery at the Turn of the Century; Unsafe at any Proof.

I’ve written previously about how Bourbon gave the United States its first consumer protection law with the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, and how the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was influenced by the conflict between “straight” and “rectified” whiskey, but Bourbon lawsuits also give a glimpse of distillery working conditions at the turn of the century, which helped shape future workplace safety laws.

This year marked the 45th anniversary of when the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, better known by the acronym for its administrative agency, “OSHA,” went into effect.  The Act was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work, and OSHA sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards.

By the mid-19th Century, distilleries were becoming mechanized, and like other factories of the time, they could be dangerous.  Industrialization in the United States has a record of pushing for higher productivity, often at the expense of worker safety.  Accidents typically did not deter owners because lawsuits could be defended easily; owners could defend claims by arguing that the worker was at fault, that a fellow employee was the cause (instead of the employer), or that an employee should have known better. 

While mines, railroads, and textile factories rightfully take their place in history as some of the most dangerous places to work, whiskey was not necessarily produced at the bucolic distilleries projected today by many brands and marketers.  Distilleries and warehouses were dangerous places, with plenty of opportunities to fall to your death down warehouse shafts, to be crushed by milling equipment, or to be burned in explosions or scalded by boiling hot liquid. 

Making matters even more dangerous, the distilleries were factories, but they combined the risks of emerging industrial farms and milling operations with the mechanization of “modern” industry.  There were plenty of ways to die in these old distilleries.

Lawsuits from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s paint a vivid picture of distillery working conditions as they describe the inner-workings of distilleries and warehouses, and then how gruesome accidents occurred.  In Trumbo’s Adm’x v. W. A. Gaines & Co., 33 Ky. L. Rptr. 415 (1908), for example, a worker stepped through an uncovered hole in a dark warehouse elevator platform at the Old Crow Distillery, where his leg was caught in a 35-inch fly wheel and “ground in pieces.”  The court described in detail the elevator shaft and machinery, how the accident happened, and how “after his injury Trumbo was given large quantities of whisky to drink in order to enable him to endure the pain he was suffering until medical assistance was obtained.”  The worker soon died from his injuries, but his estate recovered nothing in court.

The Old Crow Distillery’s “dry house” was also described in detail because of another injury case, W. A. Gaines & Co. v. Johnson, 32 Ky. L. Rptr. 58 (1907).  The court described the 60-foot long shafting system with pulleys, sprocket wheels, run belts, and chains, and how Johnson was caught up in a 12-inch sprocket wheel that was spinning at 100 revolutions per minute, and permanently injured.  Although the worker won at trial, the Court of Appeals reversed, telling the trial court to revisit the possibility Johnson was negligent himself.
  
Poorly-lit working conditions seem to be a recurrent factor in these early cases.  The Pogue Distillery was one of the most popular and prolific distilleries of the time, and it needed to run an overnight shift to keep up with demand.  The worker in Dryden v. H. E. Pogue Distillery Co., 26 Ky. L. Rptr. 528 (1904) was assigned to the milling room, where “he was put to work by Will Mays [the miller] in raking the meal from what he calls the ‘shaker’ into rollers, by which it was ground, and which were about five inches below the shaker.”  The problem was that it was 3:30 a.m. and there were no lights, and Dryden was unfamiliar with this particular job or the danger of the rollers.  As might be expected, Dryden’s hand was caught and crushed by a grain roller, requiring amputation. 

Crushing injuries were just one of many ways to be maimed and scarred working at a distillery.  The J. & J. M. Saffell Distillery operated just south of Frankfort on the Kentucky River.  When the distillery superintendent asked a 13 year-old boy, who had come to the distillery with friends to pick up loads of slop, to help wash out a vat filled with scalding hot slop, catastrophe could have been expected.  He asked the boy to climb to the top of the vat to help guide a hose, and he fell in, suffering third-degree burns to his waist, and “rendering him a cripple for life.”  The boy’s story is told in a trio of cases, Wells v. Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co., 144 Ky. 438 (1911), Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co. v. Wells, 149 Ky. 275 (1912), and Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co. v. Wells, 149 Ky. 287 (1912), including a detailed description of the slop tubs and distillery’s slop procedures.

A worker at the Nelson Distillery Company, who was normally assigned to the meal room, was assigned to the mash room on his fateful day.  The court in Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co. v. Schreiber, 24 Ky. L. Rptr. 2236 (1903) described the size of the mash room and the mash tub, and the precise location and operation of the pipes leading into the mash tub.  Specifically, the cold water pipe was turned on by reaching over the mash tub, but the scalding hot water was turned on out of sight in an adjoining room.  Schreiber was instructed to open the cold water valve, but as he leaned in to do so, another employee opened the hot water valve, which soaked Schriber’s head, neck, body, and arms, causing severe burns.

Explosions were common too (and, sadly, they haven’t been eliminated today).  In Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co. v. Johnson, 193 Ky. 669 (1922), the distillery was operating its bottling line overnight.  The foreman called an employee back in after the end of the work-day, at 8:00 p.m., to dump 10 barrels of Bourbon if the holding tank was empty, so that “the girls” on the bottling line would have work for the night.  Noting that federal regulations prohibited the distillery from blending Bourbon from different seasons (meaning that the whiskey was Bottled in Bond), the court explained that the foreman instructed Johnson to look into the holding tank to ensure that it was empty.

The holding tank was a covered with a lid, and the foreman knew that alcohol vapors would collect in the tank, and could be ignited by a flame.  Johnson, however, had never checked the tank before, and did not know about the dangers of using an open flame near the tank.  Still, the foreman told Johnson to use his own lantern – which was “an ordinary railroad lantern” with an open flame – when checking the tank.  Johnson testified that when he opened the lid and leaned in with his lantern, “It just caught me afire.  When the lantern exploded it just flashed out, popped about like a cannon.  … I was burned on my face and head; burned my hair all off; and both hands burned, too, there nearly to the elbow.”  The medical evidence was gruesome.  Johnson’s burns were so bad that his bones were exposed; the membranes of his nose, mouth, and throat were burned; and his hands were permanently deformed.

Other distillery workers suffered horrific injuries or died in countless ways, as reflected in this sampling of lawsuits:

·         Falling into holes while walking through dark distilleries, for example when mash tubs were removed for maintenance, but no temporary guardrails were installed (Anderson & Nelson Distilling Co. v. Hair, 19 Ky. L. Rptr. 1822 (1898));

·         Suffering broken bones or “mashed” legs when barrels of whiskey fell down an elevator shaft (Belle of Nelson Distilling Co. v. Riggs, 20 Ky. L. Rptr. 499 (1898));

·         Getting thrown from roofs while raising equipment on block and tackle (Old Times Distillery Co. v. Zehnder, 21 Ky. L. Rptr. 753 (1899));

·         Falling down elevator shafts along with full barrels because the ropes used were “old and rotten, and the pulleys out of order” (Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co. v. Leonard, 25 Ky. L. Rptr. 2046 (1904));

·         Getting hands caught in grain mills, necessitating amputation (Carey v. W. B. Samuels & Co., 28 Ky. L. Rptr. 6 (1905));

·         Falling down open isles in warehouse, because upper levels often did not have walkways, instead requiring workers to climb on the rick structure itself (Wood’s Adm’x v. Daviess County Distilling Co., 31 Ky. L. Rptr. 511 (1907));

·         Being violently dragged up a corn conveyor (Eagle Distillery v. Hardy, 120 S.W. 336 (Ky. 1909)); and

·         Falling down elevator shafts, in the dark, where there were no guard rails around the opening (Enos v. Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co., 189 F. 342 (6th Cir. 1911)).


Many of these lawsuits provide detailed descriptions of distillery equipment, methods, and job responsibilities, much of which has otherwise been lost as advances were made in the milling, distillation, and warehousing processes, so they are an informative guide to the inner-workings of a turn-of-the-century distillery.  The ghastly injuries, though, serve as a reminder of the progress we have made in workplace safety.

Sipp’n Corn Review – Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky

“Coffey” isn’t a misspelling and this Japanese Whisky has nothing to do with “coffee.”  “Coffey,” refers to the type of column still used by Nikka at its Miyagikyo Distillery which was imported from Scotland in 1963 and, according to Nikka, it “produces a complex whisky with a mellow and sweet taste originating from the grain itself.”  Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is distilled from mash bill of 95% corn, so if Nikka’s description of its Coffey still is correct, this whisky should be dessert-sweet.


Whisky:
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky

Distillery:
Miyagikyo Distillery, Japan

Age:
NAS

ABV:
45% (90 proof)

Cost:
$72.00

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
This whisky is lighter than I’m used to for Bourbon, but it still has a nice amber hue.

Nose:
I enjoyed the aromas, even if they were a little light.  The high corn content is evident immediately with sweetness, vanilla, light caramel, and even some corn flakes cereal.

Taste:
I tried this Nikka neat, with a splash, and over an ice globe, and definitely preferred it neat because it seemed to get watered-down too quickly.  It’s predominantly sweet, with honey, vanilla, baked apples, and caramel candy, but without the rye grain complexity I look for in Bourbon.  In addition to sweetness, there are light nutty and grassy flavors, and a faint tropical coconut flavor, for an overall soft, elegant experience.

Finish:
The finish was medium in length, with a little bit of smokiness at the end, which was an unexpected compliment to the overall sweetness.

Bottom Line


I thought that I would find that this Japanese Whisky reminded me more of Bourbon, but it lacked the complexity and character of most Bourbons costing a third of its price.  Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky was much better than the American Corn Whiskey that I’ve tried, but it’s not going to replace my Bourbon, especially at this price.  I liked it well enough, but I consider this diversion from Bourbon to have been an overall bust.

Sipp’n Corn Review – Copper & Kings Butchertown Reserve Casks Brandy (a/k/a “The Butcher”)

* Updated Nov. 9, 2016, after I learned additional  
information about the genesis of Butchertown Reserve.

Butchertown Reserve is named after the neighborhood that Copper & Kings calls home, on the eastern edge of downtown Louisville:  Butchertown.  Located not too far from the Mellwood Distillery, Copper & Kings saved a dilapidated building and has been a key part in the revitalization of Butchertown.  Copper & Kings sourced older stocks of brandy several years ago, mostly from the West Coast, and while continuing to age that brandy, Copper & Kings has installed three Vendome copper pot stills, and has been busy distilling brandy (grape and apple) and absinthe.

Butchertown Reserve originated with former Copper & Kings distiller Alan Bishop (now Master Distiller/Blender at Spirits of French Lick Distillery).  In the course of creating a special offering for a single tasting event and auction, Bishop chose three used Heaven Hill barrels and one Kelvin Cooperage new barrel (#2 char) aging older stocks of sourced brandy, to provide a unique barrel-influenced Brandy.  The blend was non-chill filtered, contained no coloring or flavoring additives, and was barreled at 125 proof.  It turned out so well, though, that Copper & Kings launched it as a regular part of its lineup.

Older Brandy stocks are still used in Butchertown Reserve and it is still blended pursuant to Bishop’s innovative combination of four barrels (three once-used Bourbon barrels and one new charred American Oak barrel from Kelvin Cooperage).  It is also still non-chill filtered, contains no coloring or flavoring additives, and is barreled at cask strength.  Today’s blends will be slightly different than Bishop’s original blend, but Copper & Kings uses a solera variation by re-blending a portion of original batches into the newest batches.

At an event last spring, a Copper & Kings employee told me that this brandy was finished in Oloroso Sherry casks, but I couldn’t get confirmation from Copper & Kings Head Distiller Brandon O’Daniel.  Bishop’s original’s Butchertown Reserve was not finished in that manner, and it’s doubtful that the current blend is either.  I also learned that while initially Cooper & Kings sourced most of its used Bourbon barrels from Woodford Reserve, now its barrels are sourced from Willett.  Copper & Kings and Willett have a similar style, so this relationship makes sense. 

Brandy:
Copper & Kings Butchertown Reserve Casks Brandy

Age:
NAS (reportedly a variety of ages from 5 to 15, but mostly 8 to 9)

ABV:
Cask Strength 62% (124 proof)

Cooperage:
75% aged in used Bourbon barrels
25% aged in new charred American Oak barrels

Cost:
$60.00

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
Silky amber with brilliant gold in the light. 

Nose:
Butchertown has robust aromas of caramel, vanilla, and fig, and fruit.  The high proof is evident, but not in a distracting way.  There is some similarity to a cask-finished Bourbon, but it’s far fruitier than Bourbon, especially with dark berries and the obvious grape.

Taste:
Definitely brandy, but with many Bourbon characteristics that I love imparted by the charred oak.  The brandy really pulled the vanilla and caramel flavors from the wood, but it’s still focused on dark fruit flavors along with some lighter pear flavors, and then it transitions to spice.  The heat from the high proof is also pretty evident, so I preferred it with a splash of water, which emphasized the grape and dark fruit flavors, and a single cube was my favorite way to enjoy it.

Finish:
Some oaky dryness, but still fruit sweetness and silky through the end, for a warm, medium finish.

Bottom Line

If Brandy proves to be the “next big thing” (it would have to beat out American Rye Whiskey first), we will all be hearing more about Copper & Kings because it will be leading the way.  Introducing Brandy that is reminiscent of whiskey is one way to make headway, and maybe that’s why, while I haven’t been a fan of most brandy that I’ve tried, Butchertown Brandy changed my tune.  I highly recommend it; even for those like me, who usually stay laser-focused on Bourbon, it is an excellent diversion.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition

After the success of Booker’s 25th Anniversary Limited Edition, the feverish anticipation for the Booker’s Rye Limited Edition, and growing popularity of Knob Creek’s private barrel program (with some astounding selections, like the 15 year “Unicorn” from Liquor Barn), a Knob Creek Limited Edition was inevitable.  The “2001” in Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition refers to the year that Booker Noe distilled and barreled the three batches that make up this limited edition.  At 14 years old, it is well past the nine-year age statement of standard Knob Creek.

Bourbon:
Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Batch 1; Bottle No. 10,675)

Distillery:
Jim Beam, Clermont, Kentucky

Age:
14 years

ABV:
50% (100 proof)

Cost:
Suggested Retail:  $129.99 (750 mL)
My cost:  $139.99 (gift shop price)

Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly sent me a sample
for this review, without any strings attached. 
Thank you.

Tasting Notes
Appearance:
Golden amber.

Nose:
The aromas are all warm – gooey caramel, the vanilla you remember from mom’s kitchen, baking spices, leather, and comfortable oak, along with honey and a slight aroma of polished furniture.

Taste:
Consistent with the aromas, Batch 1 lands on the sweeter side, especially on the first impression.  Although far sweeter than any standard or private Knob Creek I’ve had before, as expected from any Knob Creek, it is not one-dimensionally sweet; it transitions to cinnamon, clove, roasted peanuts, and oak.  I will need to compare the three batches, but Batch 1 has great balance and will be hard to beat by the other two batches.

Finish:
Warm and long, lingering with drying oak and far less of the sweet flavors.  This is a barrel-focused finish showing its age, but it is nowhere near over-oaked.  The balance is outstanding.

Bottom Line

While it would be interesting to have tried Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition at 120 proof (like the private barrel program bottlings), or better yet at barrel proof, I can’t really imagine this batch being better than the 100 proof selected by Fred Noe.  It’s the right proof, the right balance, and the right amount of oak, so stick with drinking this one neat.  Kudos to Beam Suntory for another great Limited Edition, but please, please, please continue to offer longer-aged barrels for private selection.

The price is high when compared to some of the excellent Knob Creek private barrels in the past 12 months, but I still give it a “buy” recommendation (it would be a “back up the truck” recommendation at $90).  There should be plenty of Knob Creek 2001 since there are three batches, so everyone should be able to find this at retail.  Thanks to a friend who was in the right place at the right time, I was able to get a bottle of Batch 1 at the Jim Beam Gift Shop, allowing me to evaluate Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition beyond the sample, and dig in enough to score.  I waffled between 3.5 and 4.0, and landed on the higher score because of the finish.

Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale:  4.0

The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Swill.  I might dump the bottle, but will probably save it for my guests who mix with Coke.
2 – Hits the minimum criteria, but given a choice, I’d rather have something else.
3 – Solid Bourbon with only minor shortcomings.  Glad to own and enjoy.
4 – Excellent Bourbon.  Need to be hyper-critical to find flaws.  I’m lucky to have this.
5 – Bourbon perfection.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.


Sipp’n Corn Review – Booker’s Rye “Big Time Batch” Limited Edition

After being bummed out about the cost when pricing was released a few months ago, as time passed, I transitioned to thinking about how Booker’s 25th Anniversary was outstanding, and I didn’t want to miss out on lighting striking twice.  Then I learned that Booker’s Rye was not distilled with Beam’s normal Rye mash bill (which reportedly barely qualifies with 51% rye grain), instead using a reported 70-80% rye grain, and that – as expected – it would be uncut and unfiltered, in the tradition of the Booker’s line.  At 13 years old, it’s also a rare find for aged Rye Whiskey, truly qualifying it as a limited release with exclusive company.  

Rye Whiskey:
Booker’s Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey – “Big Time Batch”

Distillery:
Jim Beam, Clermont, Kentucky

Age:
13 years, 1 month, 12 days

ABV:
68.1% (136.2 proof)

Cost:
Suggested Retail:  $299.99 (750ml)

Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly sent me a sample
for this review, without any strings attached. 
Thank you.


Tasting Notes
Appearance:
Velvety, dark amber shifting to brown.

Nose:
Whoa that’s impressive.  The aromas hit strong, even from a distance, with fantastic black pepper, cinnamon, leather-bound books, tobacco leaf, clove, and oak.  The high rye grain is absolutely evident.  Give this one some air before aggressively appreciating the aromas because it’s hot.

Taste:
Whoa that’s intense both in flavors and blazing heat; again, a little air helps clear out the heat and just the balanced intensity remains.  The most prominent sweet flavor is brown sugar, and while there’s also some rich caramel and dark, ripened berries, the focus is spice – rye, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, and baking spices.  A single cube increased the creaminess, but muted some flavors.  There’s big oak too, of course, and it’s balanced wonderfully.  Booker’s Rye is a robust beast that should be tried neat, but then after a few sips, add a splash of water for an appreciation of more subtle flavors hidden by the heat.

Finish:
Whoa that’s long.  There’s a little more caramel sweetness as it lingers, but the huge swell defines this spicy, drying finish with a hint of mint.

Bottom Line

Booker’s Rye is serious, and I suspect that it will be talked about as a contender for “Whiskey of the Year.”  Some of that talk might be the result of the fascination developing over the past few years for robust, barrel-strength whiskey, which in some cases has meant that consumers sacrifice refinement and complexity.  For my preferences, Booker’s Rye was the third-best Rye that I’ve enjoyed to date in 2016, although, to be fair, neither of the other two was released this year, and the best was a practically unattainable 12-year bottling sourced from the Medley Distillery.  But if Booker’s Rye is going to be in the discussion for such high accolades, it has to stand up to other highly-acclaimed whiskies. 

can’t make the call yet where Booker’s falls in the grand scheme of Rye Whiskey, and while I’m thankful for the sample because I might not find a bottle at retail, my sample size did not give me my normal opportunity for enough tastings to provide a score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale, either.  I’ll be looking, that’s for sure, and will update my post.  If the price doesn’t shock your conscience, you should be looking too.  Despite the cost, my recommendation is a strong buy.