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In 1992, Jim Beam launched its Small Batch Bourbon Collection: Basil Hayden's, Booker's and Knob Creek. Knob Creek was a 9 year old; shortly after came their Small Batch, both bottled at 50% ABV. Knob Creek always had a high quantity of rye in the mash bill, so I guess it made sense for this small batch rye expression to come to market. Trivia note: Knob Creek is the Kentucky town where Abraham Lincoln's father owned a farm and worked at a distillery!
The colour is a coppery amber. On the nose, hot pepper, mint toothpaste (in a good way), oak, pencil shavings, cloves, candy floss and loads of vanilla. Unmistakably rye but a little too much of everything - not much subtlety here. A drop of water brings forward a maple quality, and a little smoke.
On the palate, lead pencil, cloves, toffee and again, loads of vanilla. Thin mouthfeel. A citrus tang - well, almost like Tang, kind of artificial but tasty. Water ups the heat a bit, which is nice.
The finish is a little too chalky, but long and full of spice…and vanilla. As you may have guessed, there's tons of vanilla here - a little too much. I love rye whiskey, and this takes on all of the classic elements, but it seems to hit you over the head. Sazerac is more elegant, High West more biting, and Canadian ryes such as Masterson's show much more depth and complexity (let's not even mention Handy). But you want a solid, good drinking rye, here you go. Raise a glass to Lincoln Sr. (good job, pops!)