Whiskey Review – Knob Creek Rye Whiskey


This past March, we received an invitation to attend a Beam Global event in Philadelphia called Spirits Confidential. At this event, we were given the opportunity to sample products from Beam Global’s entire portfolio, e.g. Maker’s Mark, Laphroiag, Cruzan Rum, Sauza Tequila, Knob Creek, etc..

About a week or so prior to the event, I read a brief review of the Knob Creek Rye on BourbonBlog. Knob Creek and I go back a long way, so when I read about this new Rye whiskey, I knew that I just had to try it. Thankfully, their Rye whiskey was available for tasting at the Spirits Confidential event, so we were lucky enough to get a quick preview at that time. I definitely enjoyed what I tasted, but given the circumstances, i.e. a wide variety of spirits and not a lot of time to truly taste everything, I didn’t have the chance to really evaluate it.

A day or two after the event, I sent an email to Beam Global and asked for some samples so that we could review it. After about a month of waiting, a full bottle finally arrived.

Here is a bit more information about the Knob Creek Rye Whiskey from Beam Global:

Bottled at 100 proof and hitting shelves nationally in July, Knob Creek Rye is a versatile, full-flavored straight rye whiskey that is extraordinarily smooth and nuanced, offering a distinct rye spiciness complemented by surprising layers of vanilla and oak. It is carefully handcrafted and patiently aged, creating a rich, mature flavored whiskey with a luxurious finish – characteristics that whiskey fans have come to expect from Knob Creek.

Let’s see if this whiskey was worth the wait…

Limpd’s Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: Nice amber color with a lot of legs.
  • Aroma: Woody with a rich caramel, vanilla aroma, and a big hit of alcohol.
  • Taste: Sweet with a spicy, peppery middle, followed by a slight burn, and a lingering warming effect.

This was very nice. Not as potent as a bourbon, but more complex than an average single malt. All I can say is, “Demon Bourbon be damned! Bring on the Rye!”

G-LO’s Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: Crystal clear amber color.
  • Aroma: Strong alcohol vapors at first, which is to be expected at this ABV. Once I let it dissipate a bit, I get black cherries, cinnamon, and vanilla. As I keep swirling and smelling this whiskey, I am instantly reminded of a Baba Au Rhum, one of my favorite boozy desserts. I also pick up some mint and other herbal notes.
  • Taste: Medium mouthfeel, i.e. not watery and not particularly oily. Starts off moderately sweet with all of the flavors concentrated on the middle and sides of my tongue. At mid palate, the cinnamon spices starts to build with just a hint of brown sugar sweetness in the background (cinnamon graham crackers perhaps?). This sweet/spicy combinations keeps building, warming and coating your mouth with flavor to the very end. Long finish with a spicy cinnamon and herbal aftertaste. The finish is also somewhat astringent.

The Knob Creek Rye is a seriously delicious and flavorful whiskey. I am particularly impressed at how well it balances the sweet and spicy elements that I have come to expect from a well crafted whiskey, and given that it’s bottled at 50% ABV, this is very smooth and easy drinking (I didn’t add any water during this tasting). I really enjoyed the Knob Creek Rye and would definitely buy another bottle when this one is finished. And FYI, I just saw this on the shelves in Pennsylvania where it sells for around $40. At that price point, I think this is a very good value.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Have you had the Knob Creek Rye whiskey? If so, please tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Thank you to Beam Global for sending us this very generous sample.

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26 thoughts on “Whiskey Review – Knob Creek Rye Whiskey

  1. Excellent review. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m loving ryes and having many – both neat and in an evolving experiment with wet Manhattans. Yum. I’ll have to add this one. So far I’ve been using Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Russell’ Reserve Rye 6, Whistlepig Rye, Old Potrero Single Malt Rye, Pendleton’s 1910 Canadian Rye and Rittenhouse 100 Rye. After Porch Hound’s survey I’ll seek to add Masterson’s. Now I’ll do Knob Creek and maybe Old Overholt. Then I’d have to write up that monster. Maybe just drink ‘em. Yes, rye is sweet and spicy, gentle yet intensely herbal. What a grand beverage!

    • Knob Creek Rye has certainly elevated this growing category. At 100 proof I find this Rye incredibly smooth and finishes with a perfect warm tingle.

      • Totally agree! It’s great stuff and worthy of a repeat purchase. Thanks again for dropping it off and please keep us updated regarding upcoming events in the Philly/South Jersey area. Thanks for the comment!

    • Thanks Josh! This was one of those “Aha!” moments once again while REALLY tasting this whiskey the other night. It actually put a smile on my face.

      I’ve had a few of the other Ryes that you mentioned, i.e. Russell’s Reserve, Whistlepig, and Rittenhouse 100 (but only in a Sazerac at the Brandy Library. Delicious by the way!). I’ve also had the Sazerac Rye and the Ri(1). Out of all of them, the Ri(1) was my least favorite and the Russell’s Reserve, Whistle Pig, and Knob Creek are my most favorite. I only had my first Rye about 3/4 years ago and it was definitely love at first sip. You summed it up perfectly! It’s got it going on!

  2. Interesting stuff to consider what bottling and aging can do; I guess that this is the same distillate as Ri(1) being that they are both from Beam (along with Old Overholt and Jim Beam Rye). For that reason, I wasn’t very excited about Knob Rye, but maybe I’ll have to try it out sometime.

    • This sounds like the discussion we had over the Basil Hayden Bourbon. To be honest, I’m not sure if the Old Overholt, Ri(1), and Knob Creek Rye are the same mash bill and if the only difference between the three is just time spent in the barrel and bottling strength. It would be interesting to hear what Beam has to say about this, but I doubt that they will tell us their secrets.

  3. Once again, I give you some tasting notes and I come off as “Me likey whiskey!” and you come off as the Alistair Cooke of Masterpiece Whiskey.

    Since you shared a truly remarkable rye, I will let it slide.

  4. Pingback: Whisky Review – Crown Royal XR « It's just the booze dancing…

  5. I have done several tastings of Knob Creek Rye. With excitement I purchased my bottle recently. This is not an authentic rye whiskey. I have been drinking ryes for years, including Sazerac 18 and Sazerac 6, Redemption Rye, Bulleit Rye, Willett 101 rye, and many others. KC Rye is imbalanced. It is overpowered by another grain. I’d guess corn. You’d be better off buying a cheap Kentucky bourbon if you like the taste of corn. I don’t. I find it distasteful and uninteresting. I’d prefer Overholt Rye to Knob Creek Rye. Buy yourself a bottle of Bulleit Rye instead or Sazerac. They’re less expensive and much better.

    • Mark,

      Thanks for the comment and I appreciate your thoughtful analysis. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion. I’m not the most experienced Rye whisky drinker, but I have had several and I know exactly where you’re coming from with this.

      Remember, to be called a Rye whisky, they have to make it from at least 51% Rye grain, much like Bourbon has to be made from 51% Corn. That being said, there’s a whole lot of room for improvisation with that other 49%. I agree, the Knob Creek Rye is much sweeter than other Rye Whiskeys (Whistle Pig for instance which is a 100% Rye), but in my humble opinion, I thought it was very well done, and I plan to buy another bottle soon.

      Taste testing is a very personal thing. Just because you don’t like, doesn’t mean it sucks.

      Cheers!
      G-LO

  6. G-LO. Thank you for your input. “Degustibus non est disputandum” is an old Latin aphorism which means, “There is no arguing taste.” So, obviously, all we can do in this Forum is express our opinions based on our experience. Yes, bourbon has to be at least 51% corn and rye whiskey at least 51% rye. A good way to begin the rye whiskey experience is to buy a bottle of 100% rye whiskey.
    This gives us the taste of pure rye. One may love it. One may hate it. To my palate corn is a stronger, less subtle taste than rye. But there is nothing wrong with anyone who loves the taste of corn or hates the flavor of rye. I happen to prefer the taste of rye. I don’t know why. I love the taste of bacon. I hate the taste of anchovies. I don’t know why. For me, in blended whiskey a little corn goes a long way and is, drop for drop, much more dominant than rye. So even though Knob Creek Rye is at least 51% rye, in my view, it is overpowered by the lesser percentage of corn it contains. The corn overpowers the rye so that it tastes more like a bourbon than a rye. I make this judgment by comparing its taste to many other bourbons and to many other ryes I’ve had, especially, the straight rye whiskeys. It’s not a question of whether or not “it sucks.” Such language is juvenile and contains immature emotional content. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone who prefers corn over rye or who likes Knob Creek Rye. Enjoy.

    • You are correct. “It sucks” isn’t much of a critical analysis for anything, especially a $40 bottle of whiskey. And yes, this is just our opinion, and I definitely enjoy a differing one, especially when they have some basis in fact or personal experience, which yours does.

      Of the Rye whiskies that I have tried (R(1), Russell’s Reserve, Sazerac 6, Rittenhouse, and a couple more that I can’t remember), I know for certain that the Whistle Pig was at 100%. That being said, I loved it! I enjoy the herbal and spicy notes that Rye brings to the table, and I really love when it’s added to a beer (poke around our blog for several Rye beer reviews. There are some fantastic ones out there!). Corn definitely brings a completely different element to the proceedings. I’ve had a couple 100% Corn whiskeys, and while they be too hot for some (Red Hots! Get your Red Hots!), I enjoy them too under the right circumstances (Balcones True Blue which clocks in at 60%+ ABV in particular).

      Basically, there is a broad spectrum of flavors in the whisk(e)y world and I am trying to experience all of them. While I enjoy some more than others, I have yet to run across anything that I didn’t enjoy in some small way. Then again, it’s not like we’re drinking swill around here.

      Once again, thank you for the comments! We look forward to hearing from you again very soon.

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