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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

NOT Single Malt Report: Knob Creek Rye

Transitioning now from one of the smaller players to one of the biggest players in the American whiskey game...

Beam Inc's Knob Creek Rye.

Yes, you're not imagining things; there have been a lot of Beam products in my reports so far this year.  Aside from maybe one more, I have no plans to review additional Beam whiskies over the next two months.  Though I can't promise the same silence for their parent company's, Suntory's, goodies...

Oh, and may I just mention the news that Mila Kunis has been hired as the face of Jim Beam?  And a nice face it is.  Here she is going for the Marion Cotillard look:

So there you have it, a Ukrainian Jewish woman representing an American whiskey producer owned by a Japanese company.  Globalization does birth something pleasant from time to time.

Anyway, back to Knob Creek Rye.  Wow, everything is downhill after her.  Knob Creek.  It's technically made from the same mash bill (51% rye) as Jim Beam Rye, Old Overholt, and the discontinued (rî)1.  Interestingly, with (rî)1's demise, Knob Creek Rye was introduced into the market at the same price point, with no age statement but a higher proof (100).

words words words words words words pink elephant bumblebee carrots.  You're not even reading this, are you?  You're looking at her pictures.  Okay, you can catch up when you're ready.

My experience with the Beam ryes is limited to Old Overholt, which I've found inoffensive on its own and serviceable in a cocktail.  This is an unusual moment wherein I know a company's bourbons better than their ryes.  This is an attempt to correct that.

Here's the mini, which is in fact a miniature version of the regular bottle.

Brand: Knob Creek
Owner: Beam, Inc.
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Region: Clermont, Kentucky, U.S.A.
Maturation: new American white oak
Age: NAS
Release Year: the mini was bottled in August 2012
Alcohol by Volume: 50%

The color is bronze.  The nose starts with indoor swimming pools and ham.  Then stewed prunes and wood varnish.  It's a little sugary, and seems cornier than rye-ish.  "Orange chicken" sauce (must be the corn syrup) with hazelnuts.  The palate is very dry and hot.  Oats and cream of wheat.  Toasted almonds and hints of rye seeds.  Then clay, yeast, and stale dried herbs.  Finally something...let's call it hazelnut turpentine.  The rye notes show up stronger in the finish as sweet baking spices.  Then toffee and vanilla.  Then the yeast.  Then polenta.  And it all fades abruptly.

That was weird.

WITH WATER (approx 43% ABV)
The nose sort of straightens itself out.  Floral perfume notes meet cut wood.  Then cotton candy; actually lots of sugary candy.  Play-Doh and something acrylic.  With some air: overripe strawberries starting to go rank.  Lots of hot cereal in the palate, again.  Hot Old Overholt.  Hot plain rye.  Slightly savory and a little salt.  Oooh, here comes the Play-Doh.  Pepper notes grow with time.  Some of that pepper carries over into the short finish, topped by a hint of fruity sugars.

This is not a thinker's rye.  This is not a rye to be analyzed.  And I'm trying to figure out if this is a rye to be drunk.  Served neat, the nose is schizophrenic, the palate is somehow both young and plain, and the finish is almost interesting and then it disappears.  With some water, the nose improves but the palate and finish do not.

I had a difficult time finishing my 50mL of this rye and it wasn't because I was too busy searching for Mila Kunis pics.  At the $40-$45 range this stuff is competing with Willett and High West, a matchup that ends more lopsided than Sunday's Super Bowl.  Honestly, I now have little interest in exploring Beam's ryes further.

Availability - Most liquor specialists
Pricing - $30-$50
Rating - 72

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