Booker’s Limited Edition Straight Rye Whiskey Bottle #6379 2016 Green Label Green Wax In Wood Box

BOOKER'S LIMITED EDITION STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY BOTTLE #6379 2016 GREEN LABEL GREEN WAX IN WOOD BOX

SPIRIT: Rye

VOLUME: 750 ml

ABV/PROOF: 68/136

AGE:  13 years

When most whiskey enthusiasts hear the name Booker, they think bourbon. And rightfully so, as the legendary Jim Beam master distiller, Booker Noe, essentially defined what barrel-proof bourbon should be with his iconic Booker’s Small Batch Bourbon. But the most sought-after bottle of Booker’s isn’t a bourbon at all. To date Booker’s Rye, which the company nicknamed the “Big Time Batch,” remains the only time the brand has released a Kentucky straight rye whiskey – and it’s shrouded in mystery.

Some time back in 2003, Noe set aside a small lot of rye whiskey, distilled from a unique mash bill, to mature in his favorite rickhouses – reportedly rickhouses D and E. Instead of the usual 51-percent “rye in name only” recipe that Jim Beam is known for, Noe opted for a whiskey of  considerable higher rye content. Unfortunately, the exact percentage of rye grain remains undisclosed; either Jim Beam knows and won’t tell, or Noe never revealed it. Noe’s son and successor as master distiller, Fred Noe, claims the mash bill is at least 70 percent rye, leaving another 30 percent for the requisite corn and barley. 

The number of bottles that Jim Beam produced is another unsolved mystery. According to multiple sources at the time of its release, in 2016, roughly 100 barrels were batched to create Booker’s Rye. Based on the average yield of a typical 13-year-old rye barrel, that could mean a mere 8,000 to 10,000 bottles – certainly not a large volume of whiskey, relatively speaking.

Beyond its curious specs (or lack thereof), there is immeasurable sentimental value associated with Booker’s Rye. The barrels composing the one-off limited edition were some of the last handled by the elder Noe, who died in 2004. Add to that the fact it was a mysterious distillation carefully run by the late master distiller, then batched 13 years later by his son, and you have a whiskey that is, frankly, inimitable. While tasting notes and impressions vary among critics, Booker’s “Big Time Batch” Rye has received universal acclaim and numerous accolades, making it among the most sought-after whiskeys that Jim Beam has ever produced.  

Release: Booker’s “Big Time Batch” Rye

Spirit: Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Misc.: Batch no. 2016-LE; distilled and bottled by James B. Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, Kentucky.

Collectors’ tips: Booker’s Rye bottles are sealed with a green-colored wax instead of the brand-standard black. The unique green label bears Fred Noe’s handwriting in gold script. The collector’s box is constructed of stained wood, similar to Booker’s Bourbon releases from the time, but with “Booker’s Rye” labeled on the transparent sliding door and “Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey” burned into the wood. Bottles are labeled with an individual bottle number, though the total bottle count is unknown. Booker’s Rye retailed for a suggested $299 in 2016 and now sells on the secondary market for ten times that or more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *