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Initial Release of Knob Creek Rye. Straight or not?


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I thought I'd ask the hivemind about this, because someone must surely either know something about this, or know someone who does.

One of the items coming to public attention with the Templeton fallout is that the regulations permit up to 2.5% harmless coloring/flavoring material in rye whiskey, and still permit the product to be labeled "rye whiskey". (Not "straight rye whiskey", and this exemption does not apply to bourbon at all. Something to do with recognized industry standards, of which bourbon has a solid track but rye doesn't, due to its scarcity of production until fairly recently.)

I have an early bottle of Knob Creek Rye, and while the current bottlings are labeled "straight rye whiskey", this one is not. Every place its type is mentioned, the label just says "rye whiskey". Now I'm curious as to whether this is simply a labeling oversight, or whether Beam doctored the initial batch (legally) to get the product out while it was finding its feet. I do not think the latter is very likely, especially since it's known (or at least presumed) that KC Rye is the same mashbill as OO and JB Rye, but one never knows these days so I figured I'd see if anyone has any light they can shed.

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Wish I could say Michael. Chuck has written Beam only uses one rye recipe and Fred Noe has commented in interviews that the word Straight is an outdated term that no longer resounds with consumers. Of course Beam takes a Worldwide approach to marketing but a move away from straight may also be a paradigm shift toward products aged in second use barrels.

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Squire makes some good points as usual. I am one that loves "outdated" standards such as straight and bottled in bond. I also was extremely disappointed in Knob Creek rye. The flavor per dollar ratio is just not there. If additives have something to do with it, then shame on Beam. If it was just throw out there for $38 and is really just Beam Rye plus a year or two, then shame on beam again.

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They've never really explained why Knob Creek Rye is not labeled straight. It's certainly old enough. Could be a marketing decision. They don't want consumers to get confused between the bourbon and the rye and omitting 'straight' on the rye may make it slightly more distinctive.

But there is the possibility that they have added some kind of 'customary' flavoring permitted by the rule for a non-straight rye.

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