If you are looking for an inexpensive rye whiskey, you may notice Knob Creek on the shelf at your local liquor store. It’d be hard to miss it; the label with the bold typeface is undeniably a standout. The cost isn’t high at all, ranging anywhere from $20-$40 or so.
What’s the story with this one? It’s made in small batches and aged in charred barrels. Knob Creek is at least 51% rye (in case you aren’t in the know, that is the principle difference between a rye whisky and a bourbon; a bourbon must be at least 51% corn).
That said, I’m not sure what the exact ratios are in Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, but it seemed to me I still detected a fair bit of corn. So while this falls into the category of rye whiskey, it seems to me that it would appeal to most bourbon drinkers.
You may already be familiar with Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon, which also contains some rye—but corn of course is the predominant ingredient. The presence of the rye always gives it a unique edge, so I looked forward to seeing this rye-based counterpart.
Knob Creek Bourbon comes with a cork stopper, but Knob Creek Rye comes with a screw cap. I prefer the cork, but no big deal. The packaging is otherwise easy to appreciate. Like I said, that eye-catching label features some great design work.
In the bottle, the whiskey I bought was a light golden color that was close to amber. I’ve noticed that there is some variation from bottle to bottle with this whisky. It can range anywhere from the light color I got to a medium-dark amber color.
After you get the cap off, you pick up strong notes of oak, caramel, and spices. In the backdrop there are also some subtle herbs that I can’t identify, but I think I pick up something which is giving the aroma a slightly astringent edge. It could be mint or ginger.
On the palate, oak is the strongest note, accompanied by caramel and vanilla. Just as I expected, spices are present, though not nearly as strong as I thought they might be. I am also certain now that the note I was picking up before is ginger. This gives it a bite, as does the strong alcohol content (100 proof). The finish is long and smooth and peppery with a hint of some kind of fruit that I can’t quite identify. Like I mentioned, to me this tastes similar to a bourbon, and actually pretty close to the Knob Creek Bourbon, but obviously the rye flavors are more pronounced.
While this is not the most innovative or amazing rye whiskey I have tried, it was plenty enjoyable, especially at the very reasonable price point. If you enjoy bourbons and want to try a rye whiskey which tastes similar, give it a try, especially if you find it for sale at the lower end of the price bracket.
Knob Creek Rye : Review Summary
Color: Medium golden amber.
Nose: Oak, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, ginger, herbs.
Palate: Oak, vanilla, spice, caramel, ginger, white pepper, fruit.