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Review: Knob Creek Rye Whiskey

The news of Knob Creek releasing a Rye Whiskey has been out for at least a good year or more. Many have been licking their lips waiting for this one to hit the shelves. Distilled and bottled by Jim Beam, the Knob Creek Brand certainly has ample following. Rather than releasing the Rye Whiskey in a 9 year old small batch form, Knob Rye has no age statement. It tastes 4-5 years old to me, but that’s only a guess.

So, was it worth the wait? Here are my thoughts:

Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, 50% abv (100 Proof), $38/bottle
Color: Light Amber
Nose: Cola, candied ginger, and dusty oak prevail. The rye is fruity and clean (minty) on the nose.
Palate: Far drier than the nose suggests. Caramel and vanilla sweetness up front, then prickly rye spice asserts itself mid palate (mint, chili, cinnamon, and white pepper) on through the finish. Fairly bold and brash.
Finish: Warm and well spiced finish, no doubt boosted by the 100 proof. Caramel sweetness balances dusty oak with some bitter notes lingering as well.
Overall: Knob Creek Rye Whiskey is certainly well made, though missing the dimension and variety that some of the MGP (Formerly LDI) juice has delivered in releases over the last few years. The spice influence is big from nose to finish. I’d grab this for a great rye based cocktail – the 100 proof provides some dilution prevention. While good, the bottom line is there are more interesting Rye Whiskeys on the market for my tastes.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 7.8 (Good)

24 Comments

  1. David Markle says:

    How would you compare this to the ri(1)? Part of me (the cynical part) was wondering if this is just a repackage of that somewhat unimpressive rye.

  2. Keith says:

    I had it in a Sazerac Monday night. It didn’t do very well.

  3. Ri(1) vs. Knob Rye? Knob Rye wins, but not really. They both have characteristic “rye” notes, and are moderate proof 92/100 proof. The Knob Rye comes out of the gate faster, but very much a one trick pony. The Ri(1) is a little more balanced, but seems more muted over the range. I say Knob Rye wins, because it suits my palette more, but it’s really left to personal preference on these two whiskeys. Personally, I can’t ignore that they are both overpriced for what’s in the bottle.

  4. Vince says:

    Charles hit the comparison of RI to Knob Creek Rye right on the money. My palate prefers RI (only slightly) although I find both a bit lacking. Knob Creek Rye is too young and very much overpriced in my opinion (as is RI)!

  5. Very cool. I’ve been looking around at this bottle and I was curious as to what everyone else though. I’m still learning more about Rye’s, I’m a huge fan of Knobs staple bourbon and their 9 year so I’d be interested in seeing what this Rye holds in store.

  6. Steve says:

    Actually I like Knob Creek Rye, and prefer it to the other two ryes that I have tried so far, Bulleit and Rittenhouse 100 BIB. I do agree that it is too expensive, but it is very drinkable, and I will probably continue to enjoy it from time to time.

  7. Texas says:

    With the passing of Wild Turkey Rye 101, the LDI-based ryes will get all my business..James E. Pepper, the Willets, and Bulleit. I just can’t see paying $38 for this.

  8. Iskch1 says:

    Weird. What I don’t understand why use the Knob Creek name instead of Basil Haydens. Basil Haydens already covers the Rye category on the Jim Beam small batch selection. As for the price, seems a little bit high considering the other options on the same tent (J.B.G).

  9. Eric says:

    I like it just fine, but I won’t be paying the price for it too often.

  10. David, it’s been way too long since I’ve had Ri(1) to really offer an informed opinion. Knowing how distilleries work however it wouldn’t surprise me if most everything is the same except for aging location (in the warehouse) and proof.

  11. Storcke says:

    I agree with Jason and almost all the comments. I much prefer Rittenhouse 100, WT101, and Bulleit, even if KC didn’t cost so much more.

  12. Ethan Smith says:

    This is where I part ways with the mainstream. The Knob Creek Rye is my replacement for the Wild Turkey 101 Rye. I think this is one of my favorite ryes. I’m quite happy with the price since I like it so much. I do like Rittenhouse, Pikesville, and even Old Overholt an awful lot, but I find the KC Rye offers some interesting complexity and seems a bit more hotter and spicy, like the WT 101 rye was. The good news is I have 15 bottles of the 101 rye in the bunker….

  13. Thanks for the counterpoint Ethan.

  14. Jefferson says:

    Jason, have you tried/reviewed the EH Taylor Rye offering yet? I picked up a bottle a couple months ago but haven’t broke it out yet. Was holding out for a proper rye testing against some of my favorites.

  15. Tim Read says:

    I’ve got to say, this one was far better than I ever expected it might be. I’m a fan of rye in general though I am definitely feeling young-LDI-fatigue. I love the 10y Canadian ryes that are available, and of course like Sazerac and Rittenhouse. As a straight sipper though, this could be close to a favorite.

    I’m note sure it’s a good mixer as it’s pretty muted (those cola-like notes Jason mentions I also caught on the palate and I think would leave it feeling watery when compared to a more forward rye), but as a straight sipper? It might be the first Beam product I can actually get behind.

  16. Mat says:

    I agree with Ethan on this one. I think that Jason is doing BY FAR the best bourbon/rye reviews. But imho, this is one of the best ryes that I’ve tasted. It’s certainly a different pour than the LDI’s, and shares some of the flavor profile of Knob Creek single barrel (and maybe of the standard KC, but I haven’t tasted that one in awhile), I think it’s a complex pour–not one dimensional. Perhaps KC has brought criticism on itself. KC hasn’t said what distinguishes this from R1 (which is another rye I haven’t tasted, so can’t compare against). And their bottle is silent as to the age of the bourbon or the aging process. In the wake of all that silence, it’s reasonable for folks to wonder whether this product was hurried to the market, given the current popularity of rye. And as much as anyone else, I’d like to hear KC weigh in on that. But divorced from the hype, I do think this is a rock-solid rye, and well-priced. I don’t think there’s another rye out there that’s gonna beat Rittenhouse, in terms of value for quality. But if you like KC bourbon and would like to see them kick up the spice, this will be right up your alley. The KC single barrel bourbon is one of my favorites, and I think this rye is great too.

  17. Mat says:

    Jason, speaking of rye whiskies, is there any chance of you doing a Jefferson’s rye and Pendleton rye review? Those are both Canadian ryes, labelled as 100% rye. I’d enjoy hearing your take on them, as well as the entry-level Jefferson’s bourbon.

  18. Joe Serapilio says:

    I haven’t tried this yet.I pick up a bottle but have others open.I seen a video on Bourbon Blog and Fred Noe who is in the smoke house at the distillery with his son&Tom Fisher.They sample this&Fred says they mingle 7,8,&9 year old rye whiskey into this.

  19. Mat, I might get a chance on Jefferson’s at some point. Had it a few times, but not a chance to review it yet.

  20. Tim, question for you – did you find KC Rye a tad too corny? Lot’s of corn and rustic aromas and flavors going on there. Just wasn’t nearly as interesting nor distinctive as some of the higher rye content whiskeys we’ve seen on market lately.

  21. Jack Willow says:

    This was the first Knob Creek Rye review to hit the web, insofar as I know of it. It was out about six months ago. Very different opinion.

    http://whiskeyreviewer.com/2012/05/knob-creek-rye-whiskey-review/

  22. I tried the Knob Creek Rye tonight and I liked it a lot. Hugely bold. Spicy. Sweet. I definitely see myself buying bottle and appreciating it.

  23. Filip Mackiewicz says:

    alright its a bit wierd now , i understand fact that single barrel products can taste different everyone knows . im having knob creek small batch at the moment love it but there is but flavours profiles are different then i had in last bottle . 1 bottle oak influence nutty oil big punch of spice 2 bottle deep black cherry carmel more delightful and cant feel 100 proof in my system ive start suspecting that im having jim beam black in knob creek bottle . question is can small batches taste different ? Each time …

  24. paul michael says:

    I noticed the bottle does not specify this as straight rye. Does this mean it possibly can have flavoring and/or coloring additives?