The Knob Creek review
Company: Jim Beam
Age: 9 years
Classification: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
Breakdown: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
Price: c. £32
Knob Creek small batch was first introduced in 1992 and it is part of Jim Beam’s small batch bourbon collection. Others in the same collection which you will probably be just as familiar with are Booker’s, Basil Hayden, and Baker’s. The original concept of small batch was to emphasize the skills and artistry of the master blenders when marrying a relatively small numbers of barrels (typically of an older age and higher strength) and the unique flavour profiles which could then be created.
In 2016 it was announced by Jim Beam that the 9 year old age statement on Knob Creek would be dropped. This is unfortunately one of the consequences of the modern day demand for high quality bourbon. It is either this or a reduction in output altogether. At the time of the announcement the master distiller himself, Fred Noe, declared that he would taste every batch and it would not be labelled Knob Creek unless he says it is (I guess there are worse jobs out there).
The Gents have found Knob Creek small batch bottles which now simply say small batch and 100% proof whereas others are labelled as ‘patiently aged’. Other whiskies in the range include their Single Barrel reserve which is aged stated at 9 years and weighs in at a hefty 120% proof. There is also Smoke Maple (is that really a whiskey?) and a Mr Pie favourite, their straight rye whiskey - Knob Creek Rye Review
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – This is not obviously a 50% ABV bourbon when immediately presented to the nose. There are huge amounts of oak with peppermint alongside the typical aromas of caramel and vanilla
What they say we should get - Quite spicy and sweet. Melted salty butter on granary toast, toasty oak and a touch of rye with caramel sweetness
What we got – Full bodied oakiness (9 years’ worth in fact). The vanilla and caramel notes swiftly coming through from the nose and you are then hit with a delightful spicy burn
What they say we should get - The palate is quite peppy and full. There are notes of candy floss and nut oil, a touch of spice and dark chocolate, a little spice and charred oak
What we got – Very dry, which you would expect with a higher proof offering but it is not a particularly long finish. Delightfully sweet and punchy
What they say we should get - Long with a touch of dryness, nut oils and vanilla spice
We guess it was slightly unfair of the Gents to review bourbon which is probably nigh on impossible to get hold of these days. There are some very mixed reviews of the non-aged statement Knob Creek which we will be sure to share our opinion on once we stock up on it. It is very unusual for Mav not to pull out cherries on the nose for any Jim Beam product, but this was the case for this review
The expert comments above, and the general consensus among other reviewers, definitely lean towards a lengthy finish but we simply could not concur on this occasion. What we can agree on is this bourbon is a step up on the whiskey ladder from your introductory drink. The increased ABV is not to be taken lightly and will take time to get accustomed to if you are not familiar.
In our opinion this is a very straight (excuse the pun) and simple drink from the giant producer Jim Beam and for unknown reasons somewhat hides away in the dark crevices of not only our collection but also throughout social media. You see very little of it out there on the world wide web and perhaps this is why the Gents very rarely reach for it on a regular basis from our own collections. This review has stirred our interest once more and reminded us of one indisputable fact, so much bourbon in the world and so little time to drink it.
7 out of 10 - Mav
6 out of 10 – Mr. Pie