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Knob Creek Comes Through the Rye

Jack Bettridge
Posted: March 2, 2012

Jim Beam’s superpremium Knob Creek is branching out with a new expression—this time a rye—fashioned by the seventh-generation distiller Fred Noe. Noe, the great-grandson of Jim Beam, has again proved his mettle as a creator of fascinating spirits, this one a beguiling concerto of sweet, spicy and savory flavors.

The Knob Creek Bourbon was originally created by Noe’s father—Booker—20 years ago when Beam put together its Small Batch Bourbon Collection. Last year, Beam released a 120-proof, single-barrel version that Fred Noe tailored by following the basic tenets of the original Knob Creek (taking whiskey that fit the taste profile from central areas of the warehouses after nine years of aging), but picking specific barrels for their special flavors.

The newest expression is a rye whiskey, a category that is made similarly to Bourbon (aged in new, charred oak barrels), but uses a grain recipe that is mostly rye as opposed to Bourbon’s corn majority.

Jim Beam has long made rye whiskey at its Kentucky distillery, both under its own label and as Old Overholt, a brand originated in Pennsylvania. In 2008, it also introduced (rī)1, a lighter rye expression.

The new Knob Creek Rye has some similarities to the Bourbon version. They are both 100-proof whiskies, and the packages share the familiar rectangular shape and black wax sealing on the cork. However, the Bourbon version shows an age statement of nine years while the rye does not name an age. Both whiskeys are explosively full-bodied. The rye has been rolled out into limited markets since yesterday and will be nationally released in July.

While the new rye is flavorful and complex enough to easily be enjoyed on its own or on the rocks, bartender Mike Neff, owner of Ward III in New York City, developed a variation of the Manhattan cocktail with this Knob Creek, which we also recommend.

Knob Creek North by Northeast

2 1/2 parts Knob Creek Rye
1/2 part Dolin Sweet Vermouth
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods

Muddle the cloves and cardamom in the bottom of a glass. Pour in Knob Creek and let site for one minute. Add vermouth and stir. Serve with a lemon twist.

(Tasting notes on next page)

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