In 2016, due to bourbon’s soaring demand, Knob Creek Small Batch lost its 9-year age statement. I recall seeking out a store or two locally that still had a dusty bottle bearing its age proudly. By mid-2019, an age statement was once-again shining proudly on the Knob Creek Label.
I recently pointed this out as a favorite bourbon for Fall, but in all honesty, this is a great bourbon for any season. Bourbon expert Fred Minnick would agree, awarding Knob Creek Small Batch 9-Year as best-in-class in a blind tasting of $26-$40 bourbons.
The Knob Creek Story
Knob Creek aligns with some of Beam Suntory’s other upscale bourbons, including Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden’s. It was also one of the first small batch bourbons introduced on the market.
The name is derived from a small creek that runs near the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Incidentally, it was also the same creek that ran near Abraham Lincoln’s childhood Kentucky home. Fred Noe is the current Master Distiller at Beam. His father, Booker, created the Knob Creek brand to reflect the strength, flavor, care and patience that characterized pre-Prohibition style bourbons. The bottle has a handmade look and feel, typical of a 1900-era bourbon. Its rectangular shape is styled after a bootlegger’s flask with a newspaper-scrawled label, reminiscent of the old custom of wrapping bottles in newspaper at the distiller.
Knob Creek Small Batch proudly bears a 9-year age statement on its sleeve and is bottled at 100 proof. The mash bill is shared with several spirits in the Jim Beam line – 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley.
Color: Dark copper.
Nose: A caramel, vanilla, maple and brown sugar bomb with warm, fried pie dough tones. This is bold and rich and inviting you to sample.
Palate: True to the nose, lots of vanilla and brown sugar with a light oaky char followed by rye spice.
Finish: A long finish, beginning with oak and spice notes on the tip of your tongue that cascade in subtle waves.
Overall: This is one great-tasting bourbon – with an age statement – that can be easily found at most locations. Typically priced in the mid-$30 range, you can often find it on sale in the $25-$30 range – and that’s a true bargain for this aged spirit.
For those wanting to move up from lower-proof bourbons, this can be an enjoyable way to expand your palate without breaking the bank. This isn’t super complex, but what it does, it does well. A few years ago, I kept Knob Creek around as an easy go-to bourbon. I’ll be keeping this re-introduced version around a little more often – and my pocketbook won’t cry “Uncle”.