Whiskey Review: Knob Creek Rye - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Knob Creek Rye

Knob Creek Rye

image via Will Meek/The Whiskey Wash

Editor’s Note: A sample of this whiskey was provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.

Rye whiskey has made a full comeback. Back before Prohibition, rye was the most used grain by American whiskey makers. After Prohibition ended, American distillers favored corn and bourbon, and by the 90s, rye was used very sparingly. However, throughout the early 2000s, the craft cocktail trend blew up in the States, as did the demand for rye whiskey, which is the spirit of choice in a variety of classics like the Manhattan.

Now there are many rye whiskey producers, most of which are small-batch, craft labels. However, a few years ago, one of the the middle-shelf big guys, Knob Creek, got into the game. Knob Creek Rye looks exactly like it’s brothers, Knob Creek Straight Bourbon and Single Barrel, occupying the same distinctive flask-style bottle. Beam also do not release a grain bill, but internet sleuths believe it is the same blend (very close to the 51 percent minimum needed to officially call it a rye) as another Jim Beam label, Old Overholt.

This whiskey also does not bear an age statement, instead using the cute “aged patiently” tag on the label. Beam also does not disclose information about the grains but assure us that it is “the highest quality rye.” I completely appreciate the big guys don’t have one small mom-and-pop farm they get all of their grains from like some of the craft distilleries do, but generic statements like this don’t fly as well in this age of craft, grain-to-glass, and whiskey enthusiasm.

Tasting Notes: Knob Creek Rye

Vital Stats: Aged “patiently,” no clear age statement, 100 proof, no grain bill information, $40 for a 750ml.

Appearance: Golden orange with thin and fast legs.

Nose: Neat, the aroma brings notes of raw wood, butterscotch candy, and cantaloupe, with the tiniest prick of heat.

Palate: Neat, it has a medium-light body and is warming. It is herbal and dominated by rye spice and cinnamon, and has a slight grittiness to it. It is also not very complex and finding specific flavor notes is challenging, unlike the nose. The finish is medium-long for a rye, has a mild burn, with almond, cereal, and a hint of mint.

With a couple drops of water the raw wood, melon, and heat leave the nose, and the butterscotch is met with vanilla bean and fresh ginger. Rye still dominates in the mouth, and it’s less herbal. The grit moves into waxiness and dryness, and is a touch sweeter with a hint of white pepper. The finish is more expansive and adds a light caramel note to the others.

With a splash of water, rye and wood dominate the nose while the other notes recede, and it’s smoothed out on the palate. Rye and ginger are the main flavor notes, and the finish is easy with the caramel staying put.

Final Thoughts & Score/Buy A Bottle:

Score: 82/100

Buy NowOverall this is a clean rye that is well crafted, but lacks character. The melon note in the aroma, while sipped neat, and the hint of mint in the finish were interesting, but there was very little besides rye and heat on the tongue, which made repeated pours less enticing. This could be a great mid-shelf neutral rye whiskey to have neat (recommended), to switch up a usual scotch or bourbon routine, along with a salty or buttery snack. It also would make a suitable mixer that lets other ingredients be the star of the cocktail. Plus, for 100 proof at this price point, you can’t do much better.