Knob Creek Bourbon
A few days ago, our very own Chief Spirit Editor, Isaac, got an opportunity to attend the Jim Beam Bottled in Bond release party where he met none other than Fred Noe! For those that don’t know, he is the master distiller and great grandson of Jim Beam. And to tie it all together, Knob Creek is a small batch bourbon produced by Jim Beam. Since I am just a tad jealous of those that went to the event, I will have to settle with pouring myself a glass of Knob Creek. All in all, not a bad substitute!
We have all seen the assortment of small batch bourbons available, but Knob Creek can claim that it was one of the first. Knob Creek was first released back in 1992. The aforementioned Fred Noe’s father, Booker Noe is the creator of Knob Creek. He wanted to create bourbon that harkened back to the pre-prohibition days. Many believe that the quality of the bourbon that was produced during this time was at an all-time high. However, prohibition played a part in most of the distilleries closing down. Not only that, but it seemed to have an effect on the American consumer’s taste as well. The illegal spirits that were available during prohibition were mainly clear spirits such as gin, vodka, and moonshine. These spirits lacked the complexity of whiskey and made many consumers lose their taste for bourbon. When distilleries opened back up, most shortened the aging process to get their product out.
Years later, legendary Booker Noe released Knob Creek to get back to the way bourbon used to be made. Knob Creek is now one of four brands in the Jim Beam family that makes up their small batch collection. It is bottled at a whopping 100 proof and aged for a full nine years! Booker Noe did this because he wanted to get back to the full flavored bourbon of years past and he succeeded.
This bourbon lets you know right away that it brings the heat, quite literally. There are very strong, maple and oak notes in the nose. The oak note doesn’t seem to be the standard oak that is common in most bourbon. It is almost a wet wood smell, like walking through the forest when it’s raining. There is also an underlying note of pepper. Judging by the nose, you can really tell that this bourbon will not be a mild, gentle whiskey!
Before getting into the tasting notes, I want to let everyone know that the way we will be doing most of the tastings from now on will be a little different. Isaac had the bright idea to have me do blind tastings first and then let me know afterward what the spirit was. I think he just wants to catch me saying how much I loved a bourbon when in reality it was rum! But I’ll take the risk and in all seriousness I know it will be an informative way of reviewing. So when I received my first package, it was like opening Christmas presents from Whiskey Santa! If you’ve never gotten any alcohol in the mail, it’s surprisingly exciting. So thank you Whiskey Santa!
This first blind tasting was interesting, to say the least. I’ve done blind tastings of other beverages such as coffee and beer, but never any spirits. It was quite an experience. As I alluded to in the aroma section, this bourbon doesn’t hold back. As always, I started the tasting neat. Initially, this bourbon comes off rather hot and at 100 proof, that’s no surprise. The first main note that I picked up was maple and honey. This gave way to a spice, such as peppercorn. Finally, it was rounded out by the wet oak that I was getting in the nose.
For as aggressive of a bourbon as this is, the finish isn’t as intense as I would have expected. You are left with a peppercorn spice and oak tannin taste. The tannin you are left with does linger for a while but it is fairly faint. I was surprised that the finish came and went as quickly as it did.
Old Fashioned Cocktail:
As far as cocktails go, it’s hard to beat an old fashioned. If you are a fan of spirit forward cocktails, this is the one for you. It’s a classic for a reason!
Add the ingredients into a mixing glass and fill it with ice. Then stir and strain into a rocks glass that is filled with ice. Finally, garnish with a lemon peel and enjoy!
That’s right, we have two cocktails this week for the price one! I have recently gotten into quality ginger beer. It’s not a beer in the traditional sense, and doesn’t contain any alcohol. Ginger beer can have strong ginger flavor and would overpower any spirits with a milder flavor profile. Because of this, I thought Knob Creek would be the perfect bourbon to have in a ginger beer cocktail. This is a variation on a Kentucky Mule.
- 1 ½ oz. Knob Creek
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 large lemon peel
- ~4 oz. Spindrift ginger beer
Add the Knob Creek, bitters, and lemon peel to a highball glass and fill with ice. Then top off with ginger beer and stir slightly. I chose the Spindrift brand because it has a very strong ginger flavor and uses freshly squeezed lemon juice. There is a wide variety of ginger levels in ginger beer brands, so feel free to adjust to your tastes. If you like ginger, this is the cocktail for you!
My first blind tasting was a rather enjoyable experience. Like I said before, this is not a mild bourbon. You will be punched in the face and most of you will like it! If you’re a fan of bold flavored bourbon with a heavy oak flavor profile, this is for you!