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Cigar Spirits: Knob Creek Rye

28 Jun 2012

During my college years, my father explained that there’s bourbon beyond shots of Jim Beam. His favorite bourbon, he told me as he shared a taste, was Knob Creek. The bourbon has been a favorite of mine ever since, even as I’ve tried plenty of other “craft” bourbons.

So when I saw Knob Creek was adding a third line (their second was a Single Barrel that I think very highly of) I knew I’d have to try it. I saw that it was on sale for $35 (normally $38 for a 750 ml. bottle) and quickly picked it up.

Knob Creek’s Rye was released this spring and quickly garnered praise, earning “Best Rye Whiskey” at the 2012 San Francisco Spirits Competition. The rye (which means at least 50& of the mash is made with rye, as opposed to bourbon which must be at least 50% corn) is bottled at 100-proof. According to its label it is “patiently aged” with the whiskies being as old as 9 years.

The result is a hearty rye with a deep amber color. The nose is filled with overwhelming spice and wood. The taste also reveals quintessential rye flavors: oak and pepper, with subtle dried fruit and tobacco. The finish is long, smooth, and savory.

Taken straight it’s spicy and explosive, but one or two ice cubes tames the beast. That makes it very versatile. It’s plenty good enough to drink on its own, but it also has all the makings of an excellent component to a Manhattan (a cocktail which, although regularly made with bourbon, is traditionally made with rye).

The spicy characteristics of this whiskey go great with a cigar. Almost any medium- or full-bodied cigar would work well, but I found the PG 15h Anniversary (pictured) and the Tatuaje Verocu to be particularly ideal pairings.

All in all, the Knob Creek Rye was highly enjoyable. It’s up there with the Bulleit Rye and Michter’s as my favorite rye whiskey, and certainly worth a try for anyone who enjoys or wants to explore rye whiskey.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

3 Responses to “Cigar Spirits: Knob Creek Rye”

  1. stogiesontherocks Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I've been waiting to try this. I haven't seen it at the liquor store yet. I know Rye whiskies are typically spicier than the normal bourbon. I love their single barrel it brings a lot of heat but if you cut it or chill it with some ice cubes it 'definitely' tames the beast!

    • Francis Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      I was just going to ask this: what flavor differences are typical between bourbon and rye? Is rye supposed to be spicier? Anything else?

  2. Elliot Boudin Friday, June 29, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    What cigar would you recommend to enjoy with the Rye, Patrick?