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A few years ago, Knob Creek brought the nine-year-old age statement back to its flagship bourbon. And now, for the first time ever, the whiskey brand is adding an age statement to its rye whiskey—from here on out, Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey will be a minimum of seven years old.
Of course, age is not always an indicator of quality in whiskey, but when Knob Creek removed the age statement from its core bourbon in 2016, whiskey fans were displeased (admittedly, it doesn’t take much to set that crowd off). The brand, part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection (which also includes Booker’s, Basil Hayden, and Baker’s), brought back the nine-year-old age statement to the label in 2020. The reason for this, according to Beam Suntory, was that there was now enough whiskey to ensure that every drop was aged for that amount of time, something the company said was in short supply just a few years before. Whatever the story, apparently there’s enough seven-year-old rye whiskey aging in the warehouses at the James B. Beam Distilling Co. nowadays to add that to the label.
Beam doesn’t reveal the Knob Creek mashbill, but it’s likely in the “barely legal” Kentucky-style category, meaning somewhere just around or above the minimum 51 percent rye required by law. The company does say that Knob Creek Rye is made in a “pre-Prohibition style,” a relatively vague term that sounds evocative, and it is bottled at 100 proof like nearly all the other expressions from the brand—sippable, but definitely made for using in a cocktail. The old Knob Creek Rye was great, but this is even better with notes of leather, vanilla, tobacco, and dried fruit on the palate, mingling with a bit of black pepper and baking spice but still retaining some nice sweetness.
Age statements have become a mark of the Knob Creek brand over the past few years, with 12, 15, and 18-year-old bourbons joining the lineup (in limited numbers). This new version of the rye bears the youngest age statement of the bunch, but it seems like that’s just about enough time in the barrel. Knob Creek 7 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is rolling out nationwide now with an SRP of $37, and can be found at online retailers like ReserveBar in the coming weeks.