For those who may not know, most whiskey products are a blend of multiple barrels of whiskey from (usually) a single distillery. The blend is created to create a specific flavor profile, as barrels housed in different locations (and for different lengths of time) may have very different characteristics and tastes.
A “single barrel” whiskey, in contrast, is bottled from a single barrel. What this means is that while one bottle of a batched whiskey is likely to taste exactly like the next, one bottle of whiskey from a single barrel may taste very different from a bottle from another barrel.
Jim Beam allows select liquor stores, bars/restaurants, and even some “whiskey clubs” to select their own barrel of Knob Creek rye, which they call the “Knob Creek Single Barrel Experience.”
Knob Creek has simplified this process by sending out barrel selection kits, like that pictured above. The process provides for sampling of three different barrels from three 100ml samples. The kit contains specific information on each barrel, note sheets, and even “Knob Creek water” that can be used to dilute the whiskey down to closer to the 115 proof strength that the bottles ship.
In the drop-down below captioned “The Selection Process” we will describe our experience in selection this particular barrel.
“Knob Creek Rye Single Barrel: The Selection Process”
If you read that title too quickly, you may be tempted to think, “Hey, didn’t they already write about selecting Knob Creek Single Barrel?”
But, this is different. For the first time, to our collective knowledge, Wichita is getting a single barrel store pick rye whiskey. And not just any rye whiskey. Wichita is getting the Knob Creek Rye Single Barrel.
Once again, Tom’s Wine and Spirits did a tremendous job in laying the groundwork to get this opportunity.
While the release date has yet to be determined, here is a review of the selection process, and a preview of what you can expect from the barrel we selected.
Just like the single barrel bourbon, the Knob Creek Rye Single Barrel selection kit contained three samples – A, B, and C. Information was included with each sample regarding the age and warehouse location. Each sample is barrel proof. However, the Knob Creek Rye Single Barrel finished product will be bottled at 115 proof.
Barrel A – Barrel filled and entered the warehouse on November 12, 2012. It was stored on the 7th floor of a 7-floor warehouse (Warehouse 0), on rack 20, tier 1. The sample is 128.5 proof.
Barrel B – Barrel filled and entered the warehouse on October 22, 2012. It was stored on the 7th floor of a 7-floor warehouse (Warehouse 1), on rack 48, tier 2. The sample is 129 proof.
Barrel C – Barrel filled and entered the warehouse on November 21, 2011. It was stored on the 7th floor of a 7-floor warehouse (Warehouse Z), rack 34, tier 1. The sample is 130.2 proof.
Sample A (5 years and 3 months, 128.5 proof)
Nose: lightly herbal, light salted caramel and vanilla, lemongrass, young oak, pecan.
Palate: cake frosting, sweet – then a spice emerges, peppery and chilis, coffee cake with an orange glaze.
Finish: long, with the herbal tones strongest, followed by the rest of the palate, fishing off with some brie rind.
Sample B (5 years and 4 months, 129 proof)
Nose: Much more bourbon quality, cornbread, grainy, cornmeal, mint, little baking spice, sweet cinnamon sugar, vanilla.
Palate: mint bomb! Just like putting an Altoid in your mouth. There is also some apple and white sugar.
Finish: Very minty, dusty, baking spice, finishing off with baking soda that leaves the feeling similar to right after brushing your teeth.
Sample C (6 years and 3 months, 130.2 proof)
Nose: very balanced, sweet vanilla and herbs, brown sugar, leather, hay, basil, milk chocolate, oak, red apple, sugar in the raw.
Palate: peppermint patty, M&Ms, big mouthfeel, peppery, apple, berry, sugar in the raw, some mint.
Finish: sweet rye fresh baked bread, some mint and vanilla wafer cookie.
If life is like a box of chocolates, it could just as well be like a sample kit of Knob Creek Rye Single Barrel. Sample A we liked. It was not terribly complex or unique, but it was nice. It was safe. Sample B had no trouble holding our attention, but was so unbalanced towards the minty/toothpaste profile that we knew it was not destined to be our selection.
Then, there was Sample C. It was like a cinnamon apple pie sprinkled with peppermint patties. It checked several boxes – sweet, savory, herbal, and yet balanced. Whether this was due to the additional aging (being basically a year older than the other two samples) or some other variable, it seemed to have the right stuff. Selecting Sample C was a no-brainer.
We’re excited for the bottle shipments to arrive later this year. Stay tuned for an announcement on when to swing by Tom’s Wine and Spirits to grab your bottle of this 115 proof 6 year 3 month single barrel rye.
Nose: Rye herbal spice; light baking spice; kit-kats and vanilla wafers; pie crust; dry oak; brown sugar; red apple; new car leather; a hint of Beam funk; a bit of corn and grain. Very light burn given the proof, especially as the glass sits open with time.
Palate: Creamy; peppermint patty; rye spice; red apple; raspberry; milk chocolate; wafer cookies; vanilla; oak; leather; remarkably balanced with no one note dominating another.
Finish: Medium; baking chocolate; mocha coffee; peppery rye bread; late arriving effervescent mint that leaves a clean finish.