Here today is a limited edition release from Beam. When this was first announced it raised a lot of red flags that had me suspecting it would cost $150 to $200 - vintage statement, rye, cask strength, and the words "limited" on the label. Much to my surprise, one of my locals got in a bunch of them at a price that isn't terrible so I took a chance.
Though this says "Barreled in 2009", here's a reminder that vintage statements are not age statements. I seriously doubt Beam has done anything other than dump this straight from the barrels but you have to wonder why this doesn't have an age statement. Even more curious is that like standard Knob Creek Rye, you won't find the words "straight rye whiskey" anywhere on the label. Straight doesn't have a whole lot of meaning when it comes to Bourbon but in the rye world omitting that term does not preclude the addition of up to 2.5% additives. Again, I really doubt Beam is doing that here but as a whiskey nerd I find all this mildly infuriating.
Beam, wat r u doin. Beam, stahp.
No Age Statement; 59.8% ABV; $77
Nose: Woody with a touch of rye bread dough. I'm assuming this is a barely legal 51% rye and it certainly smells that way as it could easily be mistaken for a high rye bourbon rather than a rye, almost like an extra aged Old Grand Dad 114. The familiar Beam peanut funk is evident.
Taste: Honey corn nuts upfront, burnt wood sugars in the middle, and a brash finish of darker tannins and rye baking spices. It has the good characteristics of a 9 year old Knob Creek Single Barrel with a bit more rye spice. Things are okay upfront and in the middle but the hot slightly bitter finish is where it falls apart.
Thoughts: Meh. Blind I would probably guess it was a high rye Beam bourbon or maybe even a home blend of Beam and some other rye as it's disjointed. There were nights with this that I could barely drink it and here today I waffle between it being okay and not good. While the cost here isn't terrible in today's market for an aged high proof rye, I would have been much happier with something like a Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Rye or store pick Whistle Pig Single Barrel Rye over this. Beyond that, I was recently in on a barrel pick of the 115 proof Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye and I enjoyed all the ~5.5 year old barrels we tasted over this.
Note that price is not considered when assigning a rating.