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HomeAll Ch00 Ch00 NewsMike Rowe’s Knobel Whiskey Embodies the Spirit of the Everyman Who Inspired...

Mike Rowe’s Knobel Whiskey Embodies the Spirit of the Everyman Who Inspired It

DUNDALK, Maryland—To understand television host Mike Rowe, consider his grandfather.

Thank You Brother, PB

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n the undated photo of Carl Milton Knobel, he is standing in what appears to be his backyard. Dressed in a dapper suit and wool overcoat, he is looking at whoever is holding the camera with affection. Everything about him emotes dignity and grace but also joy and anticipation, as if someone knew this was the moment to capture all of who he was, for posterity’s sake.

Knobel was a father of two daughters, the grandfather of five grandsons and the great-grandfather of four when he passed in 2003 at the age of 91. As a young man, he had been an estimator at the Washington Navy Yard and then ran an electrical contracting business. When he retired as an investigator for the Baltimore County Electrical Administrative Board, county officials declared it Carl Milton Knobel Day in his honor.

He sat in Kenwood Presbyterian Church’s pews for 73 years, serving as a deacon, an elder and, for 26 years, as its Sunday school superintendent. In 1959, the congregation dedicated its then-new school building in his name.

All of us, in some way, try to keep alive the memories of the people who came before us who led remarkable lives just by doing unremarkable things. What mattered was the way they loved and cared for us, what they taught us, the examples of duty and hard work they lived by, and the humility in all the ways they practiced it. Television host, narrator, and champion of the working class Mike Rowe is no exception. Nearly 20 years since his grandfather Carl Knobel died, Rowe keeps Knobel’s memory alive in just about everything he does, from dedicating his Discovery Channel “Dirty Jobs” show to the man he called Pops to naming his venture into the spirit world (whiskey, that is) after him.

But before he gets into the name, Rowe explains how he became an accidental distiller—a story that began when his business partner Mary Sullivan had a friend in the whiskey-futures business who knew a distiller in Tennessee with 5-year-old barreled whiskey whose business was about to go bottom up.

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