Knob Creek’s newest release hasn’t even hit shelves yet, and it’s already won a prestigious award, making it one of our most anticipated whiskey releases of the season. Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye is from Jim Beam’s legendary Warehouse A, and managed to secure an award from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition before a single bottle has been sold.
But we think we know why: Bottled at a staggering 119.6 proof, Knob Creek Cask Strength isn’t the most powerful whiskey ever released by the distillery, but it’s approaching, and, in some cases, even exceeding Booker’s Bourbon levels of potency, which you generally don’t see outside that brand. What’s more, it maintained the 9-year age statement for this release, so the whiskey you’ll consume has a couple of premium benchmarks rarely seen elsewhere in the Kentucky whiskey world.
There’s a reason for this: Rye whiskey is still in short supply. The boom in demand snuck up on everyone, and though most distilleries have been producing rye for decades or longer, they’ve rarely done it in volumes adequate enough to meet the newfound desires of the average drinker. New products keep popping up, but the older and rarer releases are still mostly the domain of Booker’s, Willett, and a few members of the Buffalo Trace family.
We haven’t tasted Knob Creek Cask Strength yet, but most of the premium spirits from Jim Beam are incredible, and the company’s particular attention to rye in recent years has garnered the affection of collectors and critics alike. Just try and find a bottle of Booker’s Rye, for instance, which won dozens of awards including Best Whiskey in the World for 2017 by Jim Murray. More importantly, Knob Creek Cask Strength already won its own award from the much-revered San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It took home the Best in Category award for rye whiskey during last month’s competition.
Given that there is a limited supply of this whiskey, we assume it’ll be at least on the level of some of our other favorite releases of the last couple of years, including Basil Hayden Dark Rye and Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut. Yes, they’ve had some missteps (Basil Hayden Rye), but the track record is still impressive.
Overproof whiskey tends to be on the uptick in prices, and at $70 a bottle, this limited release is certainly in keeping with the trend. But as of now, we have no knowledge of future releases, so the longer you wait, the more you’ll have to pay on top to try it. And given that some new distillers on the block have recently begun charging as much as $120 for 2-year-old rye whiskey, for that age and proof point, you could start expecting to pay a lot more.
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