Well, I liked Knob Creek Bourbon from Beam, and had an opportunity recently thanks to Sarah at DBC (thanks Sarah!) to try Knob Creek Rye. At 100 proof but lacking an age statement, it competes with a multitude of young-ish ryes on the market, all formulated to cash in on the classic cocktail revival trend. Unlike most of those, this is not relabelled LDI/MGP rye, but is actually distilled by Beam in Clermont, Kentucky. Its mashbill is secret but some sources list it at 51% rye (the legal minimum), which jives with what I tasted, below.
Nose: Soft grains and high notes of clove, anise (black licorice), and cinnamon extract (cinnamon candy). The aroma is not unlike the inside of an old-time candy shop. Despite all the sugar references, the aroma is not altogether sweet, but rather reminiscent of the extracts and spices that make those candies memorable. Unlike other young ryes, there isn’t much menthol, eucalyptus, or mint. Deep in the glass there’s a stirring of caraway and camphor.
Palate: Spicy at first, bursting with cinnamon, then cooling off into straightforward cereal notes, dusty spice cabinet, and Good & Plenty’s (there’s that candy again).
Finish: Short. The spices return, but tempered with dried apple, caramel, and a beery malt. The finish falls off quickly, but is never bitter.
With Water: Water amplifies the spice at the expense of balance, although the aroma is sweeter. Unless the water is frozen and accompanies vermouth and bitters, I’d skip it.
Overall: For me, Knob Creek Rye sits squarely in the middle of the available (read: young) ryes currently available. It avoids the “spicy to a fault” armies of LDI/MGP rye clones with a nice balance of rye spiciness against warm, sweet cereal notes. However, it doesn’t show any of the bright minty notes of craft ryes, nor the deep earthy sweetness of Rittenhouse 100. Since it’s easier to acquire in some places than Rittenhouse and it makes phenomenal rye-based cocktails, I think this is a good choice for a house rye, especially if you can’t find a reliable source of Rittenhouse 100.