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Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Whiskey Review: Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey   95/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 17, 2013

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Knob Creek, Booker’s, Baker’s  and the previously reviewed, Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado. Knob Creek is the oldest of these small batch whiskeys, and is aged a full nine years in newly charred oak barrels, then bottled at 100 proof or 50 % alcohol by volume. The whiskey brand is owned by Beam Global and is produced at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.

Knob Creek 9In the Bottle 5/5

Knob Creek arrives in the rectangular bottle shown to the left. I like everything about this bottle presentation. The small rectangular bottle has a funky old school look; the label (which you customize on the Knob Creek Website) is original and eye-catching; and of course the wax sealed cork at the top is a great touch.

In the Glass 9.5/10

When I pour an ounce of Knob Creek into my glencairn glass, I see the whiskey has a rich bronze colour. When I twirl and tilt that glass, I see nice medium-sized legs dribbling down back into the whiskey. The initial aroma is deep and rich with smells of freshly hewn oak timbers dripping with sap. I also sense loads of honeycomb, barbequed corn on the cob, baking spices (vanilla and cinnamon), brown sugar, and fresh maple toffee. As I take my time with the glass, indications of chocolate caramel and cola rise in the breezes along with rich pipe tobacco and crushed walnut shells. I could sit with my glass (just sniffing the breezes above it) and remain content.

In the Mouth 57/60

Knob Creek is a full flavoured whiskey which features the heat of its full 100 proof and the richness of fresh oak barrel aging. As you can imagine, the whiskey carries this spicy heat throughout the delivery pushing forward flavours of spicy wood sap which bring to my mind images of black pepper, cloves and cinnamon. As spicy as this is, there is also plenty of brown sugary sweetness pushed forward which gives the bourbon a rum-like feel with flavours of Demerara sugar, punchy caramel, and sticky orange marmalade which provides a strong counterbalance to the spicy heat and alcohol push of the whiskey. I taste obvious vanilla flavours washing through the whiskey as well tasty baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves), hints of chocolate and baked walnuts. The whiskey tastes as delicious as those descriptors imply.

In the Throat 14/15

The finish is both sweet and spicy with maple toffee and spicy wood sap doing a bit of a tango down the throat. The tonsils are left glowing with the residue of wood spice and cinnamon, and the palate is left with lingering flavours of baking spices, vanilla, caramel and chocolate. A touch of bitterness right at the very end seems to compliment the lingering sweetness.

The Afterburn  9.5/10

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is simply a wonderful bourbon whiskey. It carries a full flavour which features a balance between the sweet brown sugars flavours and the spicy wood sap which is just about perfect. And even though the whiskey carries a lot of the spice and heat, it is very easy to sip and enjoy with or without ice.

You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


8 Responses to “Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey”

  1. Patrick Halstead said

    As one of your loyal rum-inators, I had not found time for bourbon but decided to try Knob Creek based on your review. About the same time, a local review of a local craft distillery bourbon, Oola Waitsburg, said that it ranked with the best out there. (Waitsburg is a small town in Washington’s wheat country). Voila! Taste test! I liked the livelier hit of the Knob Creek but, overall, I preferred the Waitsburg for its complex but relatively mellow quality. As a self-confessed bourbon novice, this proves little but I guess I just had to brag about a brand from my own state, recognizing you may not see it in most markets. Appropriately, it is priced with or just above Knob Creek.

  2. rus said

    yup one of my favs. listened to stone barrington’s advise on this one,lol…..cheers russ

  3. Andy said

    I enjoy Knob Creek. Booker’s in the Beam line up is by far the best. Straight from the barrel and unfiltered…the presentation and profile for a bourbon is close to perfect. As far as Buffalo Trace products like Eagle Rare…I do like Blanton’s Single Barrel that uses a higher rye content in mashbill.

    • I am hoping to give Booker’s a try later this year (working on a bunch of Canadian Whiskies first), and if the Knob Creek Rye Whiskey becomes available in Alberta. I hope to try that one as well. I am with you on liking the Bourbon’s with a higher rye content, Basil Hayden’s, Bulleit, and Wild Turkey all appealed to me a lot because of the noticeable rye in the blend.

  4. Mike said

    This was the first whiskey that really grabbed my interest. I guess you could say it started me on my whisky habit. The Single Barrel version is also stellar. Incidentally I liked Eagle Rare though I found it a bit too sugary/floral or something…

    • Hi Mike

      We seem to be digging the same grooves on Knob Creek and Eagle Rare. And like you, this was one of my early favourites when I began to review whiskey on the website here. I still don’t know what took me so long to actually write my review…

  5. z said

    95? Wow, I bought a bottle of this and disliked it so much I gave it to a friend. I respect all your reviews and this one was one of the most shocking to me. Try Eagle Rare 10 sometime, now that’s a killer bourbon for a great price!

    • Eagle Rare? Wow, I tried that one a few months back and thought it was rather disappointing. Too much of a bitter grassy flavour running through the whiskey. Then again, I tried it a couple weeks later and didn’t notice the grassy flavour at all and began to enjoy it. (A full review is in the works so you can see where I finally ended up on the brand when I publish it.)

      My point is that sometimes a spirit does not appeal on the first couple of sips, (maybe residue from the evening meal interferes, or maybe a cold coming on affects our perception of taste) but later that same spirit can bring enjoyment. I guess I am suggesting that you give Knob Creek a second chance like I did Eagle Rare. Having said that, only you can judge what you like, and it might be that your idea of a great bourbon is different than mine. Nothing wrong with that, It is the differences between us that make life the most enjoyable.

      Slainte Friend, and thank you for the comment and of course for reading my reviews.

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