Whiskey lovers are scrambling to find Booker’s Rye, paying up to $100 for a shot of it. Here’s where to find it in Seattle and Bellevue.

Share story

Every year or so, a whiskey comes along and wins the heart of just about every ink-stained critic and drink blogger. Right now, that booze is Booker’s Rye.

Whiskey aficionados, even casual drinkers want it. They call bars inquiring as if it’s the must-have toy for Christmas. This limited-edition release has become the new Pappy, the cult whiskey that everyone chases.

Radiator Whiskey at Pike Place Market already went through one bottle ($80 a shot) and had to scramble to find another bottle to satisfy the masses. It’s one of the lucky bars to get a second bottle. Many others sold out, despite selling it for up to $100 a shot.

That it became a hot item caught many bars off-guard.

Booker’s Rye was readily available around Capitol Hill watering holes and fancy cocktail dens when it was first released in mid-May. But in recent weeks, it became in demand because Booker’s Rye swept most of the usual end-of-the-year awards including being anointed “World Whiskey of the Year” from Jim Murray, one of the most influential spirits critics.

The race was then on to get a shot before it’s gone.

Booker’s, more synonymous with bourbon in Kentucky, made this limited-edition rye under the legendary distiller Booker Noe, who passed away before it was bottled.

How is it? It’s well-structured, rich and oily, oaky from being aged for 13 years and spicy with licorice and dark fruit. It’s a long finish, though it doesn’t burn like you would expect from a136-proof rye. Works well neat.

If you want to sample it, the best deal I’ve seen is in Bellevue at Lot No. 3, where a shot goes for about $32 during Whiskey Wednesday when it’s half-off.

In Seattle, the lowest price I’ve seen is $55 for a shot at Rob Roy in Belltown and at The Diller Room downtown.

(To answer the trolls out there, yes, you can get good rye cheap around town. Two priced under $10: Rittenhouse, the best value rye, and High West’s Double Rye, which is what the cool kids are drinking around Capitol Hill. Russell’s Reserve Six Year rye is a good whiskey in the $12-$14 range.)

But if it’s the Booker’s Rye you must try, below are other places that have it, with the going rate $75-$95.

In Seattle:Canon, Aqua, Heartwood Provisions, Canlis, The Carlile Room, Metropolitan Grill, Toulouse Petit, Witness, Suite 410, Naka, Mbar, The Whisky Bar in Belltown and in West Seattle.

In Bellevue:Daniel’s Broiler, John Howie Steak and El Gaucho.