I have to admit that cask strength Knob Creek releases tend to be pretty special. Even the Single Barrel 120 Proof is amazing. While I love Booker’s, the Knob Creek Cask Strength and Single Barrel releases are older than standard Booker’s releases. I bemoan the fact that regular Knob Creek has lost its age statement. Nine or more years is a delightful age for a Jim Beam whiskey.
I also have to admit I am more of a bourbon fan than a rye fan. But rye whiskies do vary a great deal. Some are almost all rye, like E.H. Taylor Rye, Willet Rye, and some others. Some are just 51% rye with corn and barley making up the rest. In the latter category the lines often get blurry as far as flavor profiles go. It is hard to tell the difference between a rye heavy bourbon and a corn heavy rye on the palate. Let’s be honest; they are both spicy and sweet, just in different proportions.
When you age these two whiskies for a long time in the barrel, the line gets fuzzier still as the barrel works it’s magic on the whiskey.
Then again, Jim Beam’s rye whiskies have a huge part in my own whiskey history. When I and a few brothers from Beta Theta Pi at Sewanee went to our national fraternity convention in some where or another Florida to the Innisbrook Golf Resort, we hit somebody or another’s Liquor Barn and bought this whole load of Falstaff beer in cans where they only had bottles in Tennessee where we were in college. They even had Falstaff Light. But we also saw an old friend, Jim Beam, with an off white label saying it was rye whiskey. So we bought that and it was kind of a thing at the Beta house after that, because when we took shots of it, we liked it. A lot. And we thought we had figured out the whole whiskey and rye thing in the American Pie song. Anyway, the shopping cart from the liquor barn would have killed any normal mortal men but we survived it. Anyway, I barely remember the summer I discovered rye whiskey with Will, Nathan and Morey, but I am pretty sure it happened.
The next episode in my whiskey history involves Old Overholt, another rye from Jim Beam that has been in Mad Men and was the base of the Sazerac Cocktail until Sazerac bought Buffalo Trace. I have had more than a few fifths of Old Overholt in my abode. Drinking it got me all Don Draperish. I would think of ad slogans: The Whiskey That Caused A Rebellion. Move Over To Old Overholt. That sort of thing.
Today, Hokus Pokus got in the 2018 Limited Edition Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye. Heck yes I bought that for around $60.
At 119.6 proof, this lost a little alcohol to evaporation on the barrel. But what this whiskey got out of the barrel is worth it.
Golden amber in color. I have noticed that most cask strength rye whiskies tend to be lighter than their bourbon counterparts in my limited experience. I suppose rye and corn interact with the casks differently.
On the nose, this whiskey is elegant. Heavy rye spice but a tad of corn sweetness. When I take the Glencairn from my nose my mouth is watering. Very nice. On the palate, the mouthfeel is luscious and thick but very spicy; like a spice cake with a tad of cream sauce. Just lovely. Bits of leather and oak round out the finish. Zero Jim Beam yeast Funk. None. I am stunned that this is what Old Overholt or Jim Beam Rye can do at nine years old and cask strength.
But the coolest part of this bottle was remembering Nate, Will, Momo and the rest of the brothers of Beta Theta Pi at that wild fraternity convention in Florida. And as I look at my ankles I am glad I avoided the temptation to get Beta Theta Pi tattooed there. I had enough Jim Beam Rye one night that I almost did it, as everyone else was doing it. Discretion being the better part of valor, I have non-tattooed ankles and am drinking a fine bottle of whiskey on this Friday in my middish to late forties. Glad I made it unscathed; but glad I lived it all.
Here is all in — Kai –.