With much of my late teens and early adult-life spent in India, I’ve been “over exposed” to Scotch or spirits with a Scottish influence, so much so that it does and has largely polarized my choice of tastings. Bourbon wasn’t naturally the liquor of choice, until over a decade and a half when American influences brushed the younger generations with their Jim Beams and the infamous almost cult-like Jack Daniels. My first tryst with other expressions of the genre was when I flew to the US – Bulleit Bourbon, Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, most of which again very mainstream and popular!
Fast forward to the present and though my exposure has grown, my interests not so much; well reflected if you were to browse through my page. My confession in all honesty, the reason perhaps was to do with the subtleties of Bourbon since it seemed to lack the demographics that Scotch presented – a wide spectrum of variance, both qualitative and quantitative between the various sects that make up the Scottish whisky landscape (I can almost feel a flurry of boos and rotten tomatoes being hurled my way). I’m 100% positive that many hardcore Bourbon aficionados would beg to differ from this school of thought and that might as well be true. And for that reason I have taken it on myself to delve more into this genre in an effort to better appreciate the whiskey in a manner that will be at best unbiased.
The Knob Creek is family to the infamous Jim Beam distillery; a family run business of seven generations that began distilling towards the end of the 18th century using excess corn from farms to produce liquor. Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s grandson joined the family business in the 1950s and was instrumental in introducing a whiskey that took strokes from the pre-prohibition times, made mostly of rye with a higher proof – The Knob Creek Rye!
Made of at least 51% rye, a lesser portion of corn and some malted barley, this whiskey is made in small batches and matured in virgin American oak that has undergone a vigorous deep charring process prior to the actual aging. Being a straight whiskey, its contents must be aged to at least two years, however some of the spirits being aged are as much as nine.
ABV : 50%
Eye : Tawny
Nose : Caramel, brown sugar and toast, complimented with the sweetness of maple syrup and some rye. Richness emanating from dates, raisins and plums with a certain woodiness woven with savoury notes, tobacco and ginger peels. Crushed green pepper, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg shavings.
Taste : Brown sugar fused with maple syrup and corn. Lots of depth and fruity nuances from dried fruits, blueberries and glazed cherries with an overlay of wheat. Cinnamon bread and toasted oak, toffee with a splash of earthiness and spice.
Finish : Brown sugar and vanilla cake with hints of cinnamon and spice.
Shouldering a lovely mouth feel, coating the palate, the whiskey is dense with a good amount of spice, oak and caramel carrying itself well into the finish. The Knob reminds me of the lovely cinnamon spice and caramel pairing that is characteristic of Bourbons but with a subtle, yet distinct play of rye that hovers lovingly on the nose. The expression is bold, candid and in my thoughts rather sweet, lending a pleasurable experience, making the Knob Rye a good whiskey. At AUD $85, this is a good Bourbon that cements a good starting point and measure of comparison in my journey to this lesser explored genre of whiskies!