Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Aged 9 Years Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

Knob Creek Single Barrel.jpg
9 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
~75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Distiller Jim Beam (Clermont, Kentucky)

If you ever get to visit Jim Beam (a distillery well worth a visit), one option that is offered to you is to bottle your own bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel. When I first went, I opted to do this, and while it sounds exciting – really there isn’t much involved: you get to clean a new bottle before putting it on the assembly line to get a label put on it and to fill it by the machines. There are different ways that bottles are cleaned before they are filled – some use compressed air, some use vodka, some use distilled water -but at Jim Beam they just wash the bottles with bourbon. This whiskey, like the small batch, is soon losing its age statement – sad for a bourbon which already has some good age on it. As a single barrel, this bourbon will vary from barrel to barrel – but the general characteristics should hold. The whiskey comes in at a hefty 60%, which will be quite close to barrel proof.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L3276CLT13483074

  • Bottling Date: 2013

Nose: Slightly creamy, with oak, cherries, and orange evolving to include coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, apples – almost like spice cake dough. With time, spices really come out – white pepper, and, especially and notably, brown (not green) cardamom. The score on the nose has gone up with multiple reviews, as it takes the spirit a bit of time to really open up. Diluting this one down to about 50% ABV really does some good work to show the complexity underneath.

Taste: Very hot at first, with some anise and marshy oak before warming hay, honey, and oak come toward a big sweet finish. Cinnamon, apples, and more spices present too. A fair bit goes on, with 3-4 distinct movements in each sip which is quite wonderful – this one is packed with flavour.

Finish: Big oak, honey, corn husks, custard, apple, freshly charred oak, bananas, and brown cardamom. Spicy, with good body and length.

This is a nice, well put-together bourbon. The spiciness is quite remarkable, and the whiskey will grow on you if you’re anything like me – I have found myself liking it more with each successive tasting.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very High. A good barrel of this stuff is great value, especially at 60%.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L6098CLA 094260916

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Standard- oaky, nutty, and lightly spicy – with some nice firm dried corn and earthy marshy notes. Slightly sour, with some peach, black tea, rosehip, tobacco, coriander, and oak... The nose develops brilliantly, with time.  The palate continues from the nose, but with some strawberries and spices – almost bitter with all that oak and clove influence. Terrific hazlenut oil comes in at the end. Lightly tangy. I’m not sure if there is a better value for money cask strength level boutbon whisky out there than this one. Not as good as my previous barrel, but still very nice, and takes water well.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. A great value bourbon. The value is lower than above because this barrel wasn’t quite as good to push it to a higher value echelon.