Around since 1992, Kentucky-bred Knob Creek was initially a bourbon essentially prepared in small batches. As the craft spirits industry expanded, this legacy brand added a range of variants among the classics. Currently, Knob Creek has labels such as original Straight Bourbon 100 Proof, Straight Rye, and Smoked Maple Bourbon. All of these are widely appreciated by connoisseurs worldwide.
Knob Creek’s parent is Beam Suntory, best known for Jim Beam in Kentucky. All the Knob Creek products are distilled and aged here. The distillery also produces some popular labels such as Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden’s. Knob Creek is one of the four premium bourbons doled out by Jim Beam. Incidentally, the name Knob Creek is derived from Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home in Kentucky. As the story goes, this superior quality bourbon represents a style of whiskey that is quite different from those that are mass produced. The blend embodies the look, feel and taste of “pre-prohibition bourbon”. Needless to say, it goes well with pre-prohibition cocktails. It’s this unique character that makes Knob Creek stand apart in the market and more often than not it has an old world charm attached to it.
First released in 2010, the Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve turned out to be the more intense version of Beam’s popular Straight Bourbon. Stored in wood for nine years, there is no special grain bill or ageing process. The makers might also do away with the age statement on the original product in the near future, but on this product, it will remain the same. The current master distiller Fred Noe is the son of Booker Noe, the founder of this label, and his notes dwell on the subtle nuance of each unique bottling.
The bourbon is a brilliant auburn with medium slow legs. The nose is neat with an intense aroma. It has a nice blend of oak, navel orange, pencil, and vanilla bean and a twinge of heat. The underlying note is fairly sweet and rich, with traces of sweet corn, dark caramel and medium kilned barley. The finish is stiff and warm, with a very deep and sustained caramel and wood experience.
Once a few drops of water is added, the nose opens up drastically to a rejuvenated experience. The wood and orange notes disappear leaving behind hints of flan, waffle, apricots, and fig. the taste becomes smoother yet quite astringent, and ends with a woody aftertaste. The finish is dry but more warm and long. Upon addition of more water, the nose comes together and tastes more like fruit punch, caramel, and oak. The palate continues to be warm and astringent with a bit less of the sweet corn note. The final finish turns out to be bright with a hint of grapefruit pith, and is slightly solvent. Though Knob Creek is aged longer than a lot of Bourbon brands out there, but that’s not everything. It’s the maturity that counts. This is where the brand ups its game in terms of the palate and delivers a taste and texture, characteristic of a mature bourbon. It might not be the most complex bourbon when it comes to its peers, but Knob Creek is exceptionally full bodied with intense classic flavours with a smooth finish that’s so simple and easy to savour.