Friday, July 31, 2020

Knob Creek, Willett, Woodinville; It’s fRYEday evening

Another day, another review in the works. So many things that have not been reviewed on my shelves and I need to get through them. Such is my hard knock life.
Rye whiskey is not historically my forte. I’ve been enjoying single malt scotch for years, recently got into bourbons and been getting a solid exposure to those, but rye whiskey… it’s a mystery still that I’m working to peek in-between the curtains. My palate isn’t that great for it so I’ll be mostly working on the basis whether I like it or not.

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Knob Creek Rye Single Barrel Hi-Time Store Pick 114.4 proof
(Mash unknown)
Nose: Beam characteristics shine through. Strong cinnamon and baking spices interplay here.
Palate: More Beam (Knob Creek) character shining through here. Much better balance between cinnamon and baking spices when compared to their bourbon for example. Woody but not overwhelmingly so and it meshes well with the rest of the palate.
Aftertaste: More of the typical Knob/Booker’s fare here: Cola, spices, and wood galore rolling downhill in a big beautiful ball of flavor. Great stuff.
Overall: Fantastic, but may be too much of the same thing with the beam character. It’s basically more rye-forward knob creek/bookers. If you like those, you’ll like this one. If I didn’t know its a rye, I’d say it’s some sort of Booker’s batch.
Score: B+

Willett Small Batch Rye 107.6 proof
(Straight Rye)
Nose: Extremely pleasant and complex. Some sort of red fruit compote is going on in there.
Palate: This one starts great. Sweet, complex, spicy, chocolatey, yet light. There’s so much going on inside the glass. With time more wood comes out and it may get a little too tannic for some.
Aftertaste: Continuation of the palate, but yet again, there’s something not quite pleasant here either, and I think those are wood tannins that finally win the battle and overwhelm the long-lasting aftertaste.
Overall: This one is a conundrum… On one hand it’s not punchy enough to be a great mixer, nor it is a treat for me on the aftertaste… So it straddles that neither territory. Great to try, but this batch isn’t a doorbuster. Probably lightest rye I have tried so far in terms of flavor complexity and concentration at that proof.
Score: B-

Willett Small Batch 126 proof (sample):
Adding this about a month later. I’ve tried the above Willett 107 side-by-side with a different batch that was 126 proof. While the sample I was given mostly drinks like a concentrated version of a 107 the balance is different and it’s much sweeter without alcohol overload. By their nature, the batches differ and my bottle has a different profile in comparison to 126. Still, most of the above comments apply, and it tastes like a generally pleasant american whiskey. Solid drink for the night and solid pickup at MSRP.
Score: B

Woodinville Straight Rye 90 proof
(Straight, 100% Rye)
Nose: Sadly, but not unexpectedly the weakest of the three here. Woodinville rye being proofed down is its downfall. Smells somewhat like a diluted fruit compote from the Willett glass but also reminds me of a glue/soap or maybe sanitizer smell, which is quite unfortunate. It’s not unpleasant by any means, but not exciting either.
Palate: Sweet and spicy with somewhat watery middle notes. Again, proof works against it here. Quite strong wood influence that’s noticeable, despite its youthful age.
Aftertaste: Wonderful spicy and rye-full finish that’s not overwhelming and about medium long. No real downsides and I’d be quite happy with this aftertaste in just about anything.
Overall: I really wish this was older and higher proof. With so many great rye whiskeys out there this is a widely available great mixer and somewhat functional neat drink, but it should not be anywhere near top priority to buy.
Score: C

(Unfair) Conclusions:
The Hi-Time single barrel pick is an overall winner here but it’s also an unfair comparison to the rest of the lineup here. One is a limited release small batch and the other one is widely available. Of the three, I’d mix the Woodinville, drink Knob Creek myself and share Willett with friends in a more casual setting where conversation complements and smoothes out alcohol imperfections.