How not to introduce people to Rye Whiskey

I’m all for re-introducing America to Rye whiskeys, either blended or single malts. We have a strong heritage in rye, and I would love to see our spirit culture embrace that heritage. But I’m not sure I like the approach that the Beam group is taking with the release of their ultra-premium rye with possible one of the worst names I have come across for a whiskey.

It’s called…

wait for it…

(rī)1

No, seriously.

Apparently ultra-premium is a code word for “pretentious”.

I have no qualms with Beam trying to make a buck or two, but I believe this misses the mark in trying to get people to understand rye. Rye is spicy, rye is flavorful, America’s roots in the whiskey world are firmly placed with rye, as it was far more prevalent than the corn whiskeys of the South until roughly prohibition became an issue. None of that comes through with this naming and packaging. Of course, these are the things I love about rye, and marketing a product to what I want is always a fool’s errand.

I’m wondering how much a bottle of (rī)1 is going to cost. As they are calling it an ultra-premium whiskey (which, by the way, has no definition other than being a marketing term), it’ll likely be priced similarly to their Bookers and Basil Hayden bourbons. That means between $30 to $40. I’ll likely buy a bottle out of curiosity at that price.

Still, that name. Sheesh.

But, as I clearly do not have a finger on the pulse of the buying public, it will probably be a huge hit.