Beam Suntory

Review: Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

New to the Knob Creek limited edition family is this beauty – a cask strength, unfiltered, 9-year-old rye whiskey. In this case, cask strength means 119.6 proof. The one off (?) expression was barreled in 2009. Though there is no explicit age statement on the label, press materials stated this is 9-years-old.

A sharp eyed viewer mentioned not seeing the word “straight” on the label. I reached out to Beam, and they informed me this is in fact a straight rye whiskey, just not labeled as such.

On the nose, hints of dark caramel and toasted rye bread are joined by baking spice, orange peel, and leather notes. The palate sees more of the same. The rye grain isn’t as prominent as other high rye whiskies due to the seemingly smaller amount of rye in the mash bill, though it is at least 51%. It’s here in the form of a pleasing buttered rye toast, so no sharpness or dill note. Dark caramel and dark brown sugar add sweetness and richness, while the familiar Jim Beam roasted peanut is ever present, as is a generous sprinkling of baking spices. A touch of orange peel and some leather on the backend add more complexity. Finally some astringent old oak leads us into the finish, which is long, bittersweet and somewhat spicy. Compared to Knob Creek Small Batch Rye, this expression comes across as less sweet with a richer, more complex flavor.

The best part here is the price. In a world that sees a large percentage of limited edition releases introduced at the $100+ price point, Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye comes in at $69.99. Kudos to whoever made that decision. Older rye whiskies are becoming more and more expensive.

My conclusion – this is a no-brainer purchase. It’s that simple. 9/10

Knobcreek.com

Thanks to Knob Creek for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Booker’s Bourbon 2018-01 (Kathleen’s Batch)

The first of four 2018 batches of Booker’s is hitting shelves now. Batch 2018-01, also known as “Kathleen’s Batch” is a Booker’s Roundtable selection, picked with the help of longtime Beam employee Kathleen DiBenedetto. She helped with the launch of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection with Booker Noe and was also the collection’s first brand manager. This bourbon’s namesake took DiBenedetto under his wings and made her learn every step of the bourbon-making process. In 2015, she was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. Clearly, DiBenedetto is no stranger to whiskey.

Now for this particulars of this batch. Kathleen’s Batch is six years, three months, and 14 days old. Those are the youngest barrels in the batch. Barrels come from five production dates and culled from three warehouses. As always, Booker’s is uncut and unfiltered.

Like every batch of Booker’s before it, the nose here is fantastic. Buttered sweet corn bread and maple syrup give way to vanilla and aromatic toasted oak. The palate is equally inviting. Brown sugar and pecan-topped coffee cake kick things off followed by waves of dried fruit, oak spice, and that Booker’s trademark vanilla. A touch of bittersweet barrel char hit the back palate along with medium roast coffee beans. The long, warming finish is sweet and slightly dry, with a lingering rich caramel and sweet oak note.

Damn, this is good. This batch of Booker’s comes across as richer and a bit sweeter than previous batches of late. The Booker’s Roundtable picked a wonderful batch that is still “Booker’s” in every sense while offering something extra. Booker’s is a batched product. BUT…here it’s like if all Booker’s was a single barrel product and this particular batch was a honey barrel. It’s that good. This one will be hard to beat. Wow. 9/10

Bookersbourbon.com

Thanks to Beam Suntory for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut Bourbon

Every blue moon, a value whiskey comes around that’ll have me doing a double take.  This is one of those whiskies.  Jim Beam just released their limited release Distiller’s Cut.  The straight bourbon is aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Let me restate that.  Aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Yep, a double take whiskey.

Distiller’s Cut is five to six years old, which puts it in Jim Beam Black Label territory in terms of age.  Black Label used to be eight years old, but lost its age statement a few years back.  Chill filtering is applied to most whiskies.  It’s done to keep the whiskey clear when adding water or ice.  Skipping the chill filtering allows the whiskey to retain all those fatty acids that help contribute to flavor and mouthfeel.  So, when you add some ice and your whiskey clouds up, it’s completely normal.  Jim Beam didn’t mess around when it came to proof, leaving Distiller’s Cut at a hearty 50% ABV.  This just about guarantees a big, bold flavor.  The surprise is the price.  A bottle will set you back $23, but you’ll most likely find it for less than that. That’s even cheaper than Jim Beam Black Label!

The nose is signature Jim Beam, full of caramel and vanilla with a touch of nuttiness, spice and oak.  Here the aromas are a bit more cohesive than the standard Jim Beam White Label and more robust than the Black Label, thanks to the higher proof.  Taste-wise, we’re talking about hints of caramel chews, grilled corn, charred oak, vanilla bean and a sprinkling of baking spice and herbs.  The finish is medium-long with a sweet and spicy cinnamon cake note.

Wow.  The whole experience for $23 or less?  Is this an answer to the criticism of late concerning some of  Beam Suntory’s high-priced releases like Knob Creek 25th Anniversary or Booker’s Rye?  If so, Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut is a proclamation that great bourbon doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Off the top of my head, the only other options that comes to mind when I think of a big, robust bourbon at around $23 is Elijah Craig Small Batch or Henry McKenna BIB.  And generally those are priced a few bucks higher.  If you know of a better value than Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut, I’m all ears.  Keep in mind this is a limited run, so find a bottle sooner than later. Jim Beam should consider making this a permanent entry in their lineup.  Highly recommended!  8.5/10

Jimbeam.com

Thanks to Jim Beam for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.