Jim Beam’s latest superpremium offering should come as no surprise. The original Knob Creek Rye was a hit back in 2012, so it’s natural that the company would release a cask strength offering, as it’s often done with its other whiskey releases. Says Beam, “Aged for 9 years and stored in Warehouse A, the oldest standing rackhouse at our distillery, this cask strength straight rye whiskey, bottled at 119.6 proof, takes our award-winning Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey to the next level as an ultra-aged, unfiltered rye whiskey with unbeatably big and full spicy rye flavor.”
Let’s give it a try.
There’s surprisingly little going on on the nose here, the dominant aromas being a savory note of pepper bacon, green wood, barnyard funk, and some sulfury matchstick heads. While the olfactory intro disappoints, things liven up considerably on the palate, which showcases more of a classic rye experience. Boldly spicy notes and lots of fruit — apples, peaches, and apricots — provide a bit lift, right from the start. At nearly 60% alcohol, there’s ample heat here, but it’s manageable, the finish smoldering with notes of vanilla, salted caramel, and milk chocolate. I actually like it less with water than without, as the fruit notes tend to disappear and the dessert-like caramel notes get a little, well, watery.
All told, it’s definitely a worthwhile whiskey, though you can really do just as well with the 100-proof Knob Creek Rye for far less coin.