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Nov 22, 2013 10:29 AM

Knob Creek 9 Year Bourbon, Jefferson 10 Year Rye, Jim Beam Rye, Seeking a Good Rye

Well the KC 9 Yr was on sale recently and now I know why. Harsh up front and not much on the follow through, just poor stuff.

Also tried the 100% Rye (Canadian) Jefferson 10 Yr. Decent stuff, but in the end nothing special.

Also, I was making some Sazeracs with a mix of Jim Beam Rye, and Rittenhouse. Actually the combo makes a nice Sazerac. That said, tried some of the Jim Beam alone on ice and I have to say it was pretty flabby stuff. Fine for mixing, but does not stand up on it's own. JB Bourbon is my everyday, and I am really looking for a modestly priced every day Rye. Old Overholt ain't bad, but really can't stand up to sipping. Bulleit is okay, but pricey for what it is. The Wild Turkey is not bad, but really not worth $24 a bottle that it costs here in MA. Hmmmm.

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  1. Wild Turkey was much better when it was 101 proof, and around $20 - it was my go to mixer. Now I use Ritt 100 which I can still get for $18, though I know it is much higher in some parts of the country. Can't say I was a fan of Overholt when I had a bottle a couple years ago, found it rather bland. I have never sprung for a bottle of Beam because every review I have read says it is weak and watery.

    I have seen Bulleit online for as low as $22, and at that price it is awesome, but here in NC it is $35. I would guess it is comparably priced in Mass.

    Dickel is not bad, not my choice as a sipper because it has some harsh edges. I think it would mix well though I haven't tried it for such yet. A little pricey here also at $25 though I got it on vacation for $18, at which price I would buy it again.

    Sazerac is my favorite but has crept up in price and gotten harder to find. Redemption is a decent sipping rye, priced in the mid-20's and easy to find but probably not assertive enough to mix well.

    I am surprised you didn't like the Jefferson's, I just opened my bottle a week or so ago and have yet to retaste it, but my first impression was very favorable. Not sure what your price is in MA, but here in NC it runs $40 ($36 on sale) - but I got it from Hitime in Cali for $26, at which price I consider it a very good bargain.

    9 Replies
    1. re: ncyankee101

      I got the Jefferson for $29 on sale, and initially I liked it, but it didn't wear well, and I feel in the end it does not have a lot of depth.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        I was not at all impressed with the Jefferson's. And don't fall into the trap of buying either of the other two made from the same stock (Whistlepig, Masterson's). All three have a strange phenolic bubblegum kind of aftertaste that is really bothersome in my opinion. I tried Jefferson's and Masterson's ($60) side-by-side and was unable to tell the difference. The Whistlepig (also $60) seems slightly better than the other two, but is ridiculously sweet.

        Also agree with you on the Knob Creek. I found it to be very hot, over-the-top woody, and a bit spicy, but without much in the way of depth or balance.

        My favorite rye for a long, long time has been Michter's. The proof isn't quite as high as I'd like for mixing but it has a really great flavor profile. I'm also a fan of Bulleit rye (not so much a fan of the bourbon).

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          Okay Davis, you and I don't always agree (though often enough) but WOW your descriptions of the Jefferson's (phenolic bubble gum etc) and the Knob Creek Nine could not be more spot on. Precisely right in both cases!

          I have some Bulleit (have to double check if it is Rye or Bourbon) but find it pricey $30+ for what it is. That said I agree it is the best of the lot.

          I do like Michter's, have only had it at a bar, but again, dang that stuff ain't cheap.

          Wish someone would make a good $18-$25 a bottle rye that could be my everyday...

          1. re: StriperGuy

            One of the advantages to living where Trader Joe's can sell booze is that Bulleit IS about a $25 bottle! I've been buying it since having a sample or three at an L.A. Times food & drink festival. In reference to some remarks about several other ryes being oddly sweet, what I love about this is how sweet it isn't. The good bones of a fine bourbon without the sweetness – an American whiskey for a Scotch/Irish lover.

          2. re: davis_sq_pro

            Wow. I love Whistlepig, as well as its cheaper sibling, Jeffersons. The bubblegum flavor (think the old stick gum from baseball card packs) isn't off-putting to me at all, but instead seems to simply be a good representation of a 95-100 percent rye whiskey. I actually think of it as a sign of quality in a high-end rye. Maybe you're more used to bourbons, or ryes with lower amounts of rye in the mash? Although I can't afford a bottle of my own, I have savored and enjoyed quite a few glasses of Whistlepig and wouldn't hesitate to call it my favorite rye. Now, if only I could find Whistlepig for $60 a bottle!

            I guess another issue with the Canadian juice could simply be the type of rye they use, which may tend towards producing that sort of slightly bitter, noticeably sweet bubblegum sensation. Anyone know for sure if specific kinds of rye grain tends to produce certain flavors in the final distilled product?

            My issue with the one glass I had of Knob Creek rye a year or so back was that it tasted too much like a high-rye bourbon, with loads of sweet brown sugar and little in the way of the sweet, herbally, grain-y grassy flavors I expect out of a high-end rye.
            I also have enjoyed a few glasses of Michters, but like StriperGuy said, that price point makes it something I order at my local whiskey bar occasionally rather than something I've shelled out for to have in my home bar.

            We're experiencing a Rittenhouse shortage right now, both at my apartment and in the DC region, so I bought a bottle of Dickel rye last week on sale for $19.95 and really enjoyed a glass of the stuff. I have yet to see how it works in cocktails, but I think it will be a solid mixing rye. I will say, based on your issues with Jeffersons, that it might not be your cup of tea...or, in this case, your cup of rye. The bittersweet hint of bubblegum is present but is also followed by a short and somewhat honey sweet finish, most likely a result of the charcoal filtering.

            1. re: The Big Crunch

              Crunch - have you tried the High west Silver rye? It's 100% rye, unaged, and very interesting stuff.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                Nope, I haven't tried it. I generally ignore unaged whiskeys, but if I find the Silver rye at a bar I'll make sure to give it a try. Luckily I have a couple of terrific whiskey bars in my neighborhood, so there's a good chance I'll be able to order a glass.

                My experience with High West is a bit limited, primarily due to the price. A buddy of mine brought over a bottle of the Double Rye earlier this year for a party we had and I absolutely loved it. I also received a bottle of The Son of Bourye a few years back as a birthday present from another friend, and really enjoyed it, though it was nowhere as good as the Double Rye.

                1. re: The Big Crunch

                  I probably would have passed if they had been the $40+ I usually see them priced, but this place had them at $29 so I splurged.

                2. re: ncyankee101

                  i found that stuff really kinda weird. i admit i have almost no experience with "white dog" type unaged spirits, but that high west silver didn't even taste like whiskey to me.

        2. I am not an Overholt fan at all- mellow to the point of being bland. That said, not bad for about $13 in NJ. It's $22 in PA and totally not worth it.

          I keep Rittenhouse BIB on hand for mixing ($24-ish in NJ and PA), for sure the best rye out there for the price.

          My favorite rye for drinking neat is Willett Family Estate Rye single Barrel.Last year it was 5 years old, 115proof. This year I've only been able to get 4 y/o 110proof. Either way, it's dark, rich, spicy and tastes much older than the age statement. It runs about $35 when I can find it. Mixes a great Manhattan or Old Fashioned, too, but maybe it's a little pricy for everyday mixing. YMMV

          15 Replies
          1. re: carnicero

            Hmmm thx never even heard of Willett.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              As of now, it's sourced from LDI/MGP, so same juice as Bulleit Rye, Templeton, some of the High West blends, and many others. The barrels that they're selecting (and I don't know if they're of age when they buy them or if they age them longer at their rickhouse in KY) seem to be the cream of the crop.
              They rennovated their still and started producing their own distillate in late 2012, so they should have their own make on shelves within a few years.

              1. re: carnicero

                I tasted some of the unaged Willet at the distillery in 2012 and look forward to seeing what it is like in five years. I also crawled around in their rickhouse with the distiller and a small group of friends, armed with a cordless drill and wood plugs, so we could drill into the barrel heads and collect the whiskey to sip. Rickhouses are nice, dim, aromatic places to snooze when you have had a bit too much tasty whiskey without enough water.

                1. re: JMF

                  I completed a Kentucky bourbon tour last year, and the Willett rickhouses smelled the best of all of them!

            2. re: carnicero

              I picked up several ryes this summer from a place in Myrtle beach, whose prices were lower than I had seen on them. Willett 4 yr was one of them, I have yet to open it but am looking forward to it. (I have been trying to finish off some of the boatload of opened bottles I have on my shelves.)

              Others I got were the High West silver (rye and oat), Rendezvous rye, Double Rye, Son of Bourye, and Campfire Whiskey. The only ones I have opened were the silvers.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                The Rendezvous is fantastic in my opinion -- possibly my favorite rye at the moment. I'll have to try the Silver. Oat sounds interesting!

                1. re: ncyankee101

                  I found the 4 yr Willett down near Myrtle beach as well. It has supplanted Rendezvous as my favorite rye. Very easy to drink neat despite being 110 proof.

                2. re: carnicero

                  The Willett is pretty tasty and worth a try

                  1. re: carnicero

                    I think you're the only person I've ever seen refer to Old Overcoat as "mellow." :) I also can't imagine paying $22 for it - that's insane.

                    The Willett Family Estate is currently my favorite rye, although on my budget I refuse to mix it. I prefer to sip neat and linger over the scent. Your description is spot-on.

                    I finally tasted Whistlepig a few weeks ago under pressure from a bar manager who was a huge fan, and I've decided it's a litmus test for me now. If you're a big fan of Whistlepig, then I just don't like the same kind of ryes you do. I'm glad I figured that out by paying for a pour instead of a whole bottle.

                    1. re: Wahooty

                      I don't know about that. I like WhistlePig and Willett. I detest Old Overholt though.

                      1. re: sku

                        Fair enough - I stand corrected. It's not that I hated the WhistlePig...I just found it really underwhelming given the price tag. And the bar manager who was recommending it so highly also seemed to be a big fan of the wheated bourbons, which also aren't my favorites.

                        Overholt is what it is - I occasionally buy a bottle to commune with my grandfather. If I'm mixing, it's with Rittenhouse 100. Unless it's a sazerac, in which case I'm using Sazerac.

                        1. re: sku

                          I can't agree to detest Old Overholt, I'm afraid -- and not because I think it is better than it really is. But 30 years ago, it was the first rye I drank and understood as different from bourbon -- and the only rye available to me (maybe some of you were luckier with distribution in those days). Although my standard for mixing these days is Rittenhouse bonded, I will never disrespect the Overholt that first introduced me to rye whiskey and was my mainstay for many, many years before the very recent rye revival.

                          If there's anything I detest in the rye whiskey market, it is the newcomer brands that want to pretend they distilled something they bought from Indiana or Canada.

                          1. re: johncb

                            30 years ago Overholt was good stuff, made by National Distillers at the Old Grand-Dad distillery. These days it's just another label of Beam rye.

                            1. re: sku

                              I had some 1910 and 1915 Old Overholt a few years ago. A bit past its prime but still mighty tasty.

                    2. I found the Jefferson a bit "hot" and, for me, the nose is better than the taste. It smells great, but I can't really even get it down without a little chip of ice or splash of water.

                      1. I just tried some Templeton and thought it was pretty good. I had the Bulleitt recently as well, which I like, but I think the Templeton was better. Subjective, of course.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: deeman

                          Big fan of Templeton Rye. Works both on rocks or mixed. My go to Rye.

                        2. Better late to the party than never, I suppose . . .

                          Here's my problem, which is slightly different than yours -- I enjoy *all* the Ryes I have in the house at present, depending upon my mood. Right now, I have

                          Bulleit "regular"
                          Jefferson's 10 year old
                          Sazerac "regular"
                          Sazerac 18 year old
                          Willet Family Estate Single Barrel Rye

                          The Jefferson's and Sazerac 18 I generally sip straight, while the Willet is sipped with a splash of water ande, perhaps, a small (half) ice cube. The Bulleit and the "regular" Sazerac are either sipped straight or used for cocktails (mostly Sazeracs).