Knob Creek Rye

Today’s tasting is Knob Creek Rye from the Jim Beam Distillery. Many of us Bourbon drinkers cut their teeth on Knob Creek Bourbon, one of the first premium style Bourbons that was also a big seller.

Knob Creek Rye comes in the same rectangular corked bottle as it’s extremely popular cousin, Knob Creek Bourbon. It is bottled at 100 proof, sells for around $38 for the 750ml and is widely available. Talking Bourbon was unable to find a positive age statement which always raises TB’s eyebrows. Also could not get a clear listing of the mash bill.

Helping TB today is friend and neighbor Clark. Clark is more of a wine, Rum, tequila and beer guy. But hey, he is always up for a free drink and doesn’t dislike Bourbon, just not his first choice.

NOSE

Clark: I actually get quite a few things, butterscotch, caramel, oak and spice are what I pick up first. Behind that is a woody/cedar aroma. Can also smell the 100 proof, somewhat hot.

TB: Wow, are we smelling the same stuff? Only thing that stands out is the Rye. Secondary aromas include honey, citrus, back fruit and a slight nuttiness. Not really getting the the wood that Clark got.

TASTE

Clark: A little hot with an ethanol taste neat. With one somewhat melted cube the drink opens up. I get the butterscotch, caramel and wood that I got on the nose along with some nuttiness mentioned by TB on the nose. Also get a slight hint of cinnamon and vanilla.

TB: Smooth with a nice burn neat but agree with Clark (ouch, that hurts) that it is better with a little water/ice. Even then not getting any over riding taste, just secondary flavors including Rye, tobacco, pepper, hints of leather and a bit of bitterness.

FINISH

Clark: Medium to medium long with not much change in the taste.

TB: Medium to medium long with a little more Rye and a touch of oak.

OVERALL

Clark: At this price point I would stick to Eagle Rare. While certainly nothing to turn down, I prefer Templeton Rye over this. Maybe that is me being a homer since it has some Iowa roots.

TB: You are definitely a homer. But TB also finds Knob Creek Rye to be just okay. Like a lot of juice here lately, one has to really reach to find much flavor.

Nose 3.5 out 5

Taste 7.5 out of 10

Finish 3.5 out of 5

Total score 14.5 out of 20 barrels.

While Knob Creek Rye is not a bad drink, it just lacks something, not sure what. Maybe a little more depth when it comes to the taste and finish. And while not over priced, there is definitely better Rye out at that price range or even under.

Knob Creek Rye does make a decent cocktail, especially like it in an old fashion and is a pretty easy drink. It also has a recognizable name, and that name is very popular.

Final verdict, Talking Bourbon is going to punt on this one. If you like Knob Creek Bourbon, you might like this. If you like a Rye that is not too bold or too forward, you might like this. If you are more of a mixing person you will like this. At this price point, you should find out for yourself.

Wild Turkey Longbranch

Today’s tasting is yet another offering from Wild Turkey, Longbranch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Talking Bourbon remembers when you could just buy the fine Wild Turkey 101 and the not so fine 81. Longbranch is described on the Wild Turkey web site as:

“Made in small batches and refined with oak and Texas Mesquite charcoals, this unique process results in an extraordinarily balanced and smooth sipping whiskey.”

Longbranch is a partnership between legendary Master Distiller Eddie Russell and Mathew McConaughey, yeah the actor. Guess he is a Bourbon dude, who knew? Supposedly it was “inspired” by the actor’s Texas roots, hence the mesquite.

Longbranch comes in a nice looking squat corked bottle, aged 8 years and bottled at 83 proof. Longbranch, like most things from Wild Turkey, is mass produced and available pretty much wherever spirits are sold. TB found this bottle at Costco. It sells for around $35 for 750ml and has a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% barley.

Assisting in the review today is Maria. Maria is more of a wine and margarita girl but also likes gin and tonics and occasionally a sip of good Bourbon.

NOSE

Maria: Strong aromas of butterscotch is the first thing that jumps out at me. After that I pick up scents of smoke, vanilla and spice.

TB: Nothing really stands out, some Rye, corn, caramel, vanilla and a bit of the smoke that Maria got. Also get a faint taste of wood and once ice was added, some citrus.

TASTE

Maria: Very sweet up front along with cedar. Lesser scents include the butterscotch, smoke and vanilla that I got on the nose. Also, very smooth neat, I usually don’t like to drink any hard liquor that way but this was fine.

TB: Also find this to be very sweet and also taste the smoke and wood that Maria talked about, almost like a campfire. Secondary flavors include pepper, grain and the caramel that I got on the nose. Even further back, a little bit of mustiness.

FINISH

Maria: Medium with more sweetness and wood.

TB: Medium-long with the same sweetness and wood and a little spice.

OVERALL

Maria: I’m no expert and it lacked the nuttiness that I like in Bourbons, but enjoyed drinking a glass.

TB: A little on the sweet side and not a ton of depth but have to agree with Maria, I enjoyed my glass.

Nose 3.5 out of 5

Taste 8 out of 10

Finish 3.5 out of 5

Total score 15 out of 20 barrels.

Not a bad Bourbon for the price, TB paid $29.99, but nothing you need to rush out and buy. Talking Bourbon was scared this was going to taste like Jack Daniels given the charcoal, and as readers know TB does not like JD. Happy to report that Longbranch in no way resembles Jack Daniels.

Longbranch is best enjoyed neat or with Whiskey cubes. When adding ice you lose some of the aromas and flavors. Longbranch is a little too sweet to make a good mixer unless you just like to add a few drops of bitters.

If a sweet Bourbon is your thing, you should definitely give Longbranch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey a shot. The added smokiness at least sets it apart from other sweet Bourbons.