Companies are weird at times. You’ll see them buy out or build these brands that seemingly overlap, or should overlap. However having worked with some of these companies, there is method to the seeming madness.
Jim Beam is one such company (I haven’t worked with them). There’s the Jim Beam line-up, which is massive, and then there’s Bookers, Bakers, Basil Haydens, and Knob Creek.
And if you’ve followed along, you know that the bolding means I’m talking about Knob Creek today.
According to the website (which totally isn’t biased), Knob Creek was created by Booker Noe as a way to bring back the quality levels of pre-prohibition bourbon. And that’s quite the challenge; prohibition did a number on multiple distilleries, not to mention it’s easier to just bring out yet another low-end bourbon and sell it as mix.
So, let’s see if Booker was successful, or this whole line-up was a lesson in pain for me.
Up first we have Knob Creek Straight Bourbon. Aged 9 years and bottled at a healthy 50%, this whiskey was the one that Booker started with, keeping those standards now with his son.
This received quite a few awards and praise over the years. It’s won quite a few golds in quite a few competitions. However as I’ve said before, that’s not really a big thing to me. And Jim Beam has the money to pay for top results.
It’s also Small Batch. Which as we know, is one of the few things on whiskey that means absolutely bupkiss. A small batch could be 100 bottles to 100,000 bottles, as it’s all relative.
I’d make a relative joke about the South, however I was in trouble last time I said that.
So I’m a little worried about this. There’s some red flags, like a woman talking about coffee enemas or thetons.
That said, maybe she isn’t that crazy. Maybe she just really like Beck, or things in her bum. I don’t mind Jim Beam products, so their mashbill should be good after 9 years. And the Abv isn’t low.
Let’s stop trying to balance out my initial thoughts and just see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $40.95 (LCBO)
Colour: 10YR 5/6
Nose: Caramel, spice, carrot cake, candied ginger, cashew, grapefruit, woody
Okay, okay, not that crazy: I mean, yeah, there was something about Christian Science, but maybe it was a passing thought.
Nice big carrot cake and caramel going on here. There’s a woody aspect at the end that seems to have grown out of the funk. Nice nose.
Taste: Woody, anise, carrot, oregano, cinnamon
More woody. More earth. Not as big or tasty as the nose, tell you the truth, however still quite tasty.
Did she just mention yoga curing scoliosis? Maybe she is crazy.
Finish: Dry, nectarine, birch, basil, strawberry jelly
Very dry. Very, very dry finish. Fruity and dry, reminds me of a Chardonnay.
Wait, the yoga thing was a half-joke? I don’t know anything anymore.
Conclusion: So I’ll say this: It’s not a bad dram. Actually nice to sit back and sip on it. Decent dry finish, and really nice nose.
That said, this dram is, like the strawman woman in my above is, in fact, crazy. And that relates to the whiskey in that it’s… fuck, lost my train of thought because I had to work for 3 days.
This whiskey, at the end of the day, doesn’t do everything I wanted the nose to do. And it has some not so great parts that make me want to sip it only some of the time.
Yeah, that’s what I meant.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #239
101 Whiskies to try before you die review #59
Some people find it annoying when a company brings out a rye out of nowhere. C.E.H comes to mind. Knob Creek falls into that as well. Neither ever made a rye.
I enjoy it. Because history is meant to be learned from, not stringently followed until we all choke on the last gasp of air.
Or something like that. I can see that they don’t make sense. I can see it clearly now. I’m just not going to let it trip me up too much. So to those of you like me who generally eschew tradition, there’s Knob Creek Rye. It’s NAS, though “patiently aged”, whatever that means… I guess they fired that one guy who kept asking if it’s ready yet.
So it’s a high Rye mashbill, “patiently aged”, and… that’s about it. Might be a “blend” as well, though the website was somewhat sparse.
What do we expect from a product brought out in the wild days of 2012?
Price: $54.85 (CAD) at the LCBO
Colour: 7/5YR 5/8
Nose: Orange, floral, ginger, yeast, cloves, arugula
Yup, it’s rye.
Oh, wait, you wanted more than that.
It’s floral, fruity, has more citrus than other ryes, and a good amount of yeast, like that one desperate girl in your dorm room.
See, it’s a rye.
Taste: Cinnamon, ginger, oak, raisin, butter, cream
Spicy. I forgot to mention spicy. Dammit. It’s spicy, though not overdoing it. Quite a bit of dried fruit flavours.
And there’s ginger… again, like that one guy in your dorm room. Nice. Doesn’t have a lot of complexity though.
Finish: Raisin, butter, persimmon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, ginger, oak, Wheatabix
Earthy, buttery, and fruity, with lots of spice. Actually the finish is the best part, like a rub and tug.
Good amount of cereal too.
Conclusion: So the nose is pretty standard, the taste is nice (but lacking), and the finish is really nice. Out there nice. Makes it better than the standard one. Lots of flavours.
That said there’s Ryes and whiskies out there that have a good nose, taste, and finish. Still quite tasty.
In the grand year of 2010, Knob Creek blessed us with Knob Creek Single Barrel. Or something. I don’t quite know yet.
Let’s be honest, I’m Canadian; I’m just happy to see a special edition about 46% that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This was made the same as the Straight Bourbon, yet at a high Alcohol content and “hand selected”.
So… the ones that didn’t suck were in this bottle, and the ones that really suck are in the other. Gotcha.
So, each one is one-of-a-kind. And you know that’s special because of the hyphens. So where as the original is blended of multiple barrels, this one is a single barrel each time.
Oh well, let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $56.80 (CAD) at the LCBO
Region: Still Kentucky
Colour: 5YR 3/8
Nose: Orange, wood, lemon, salt, cream, nutmeg, light blue freezee, brown sugar, peach, pine
Alright, I take it back: This is a completely different animal. Big, odd flavours on the nose. More fruit than before.
And is that light blue freezee? Shit I haven’t had one of those in years… now I want one… dammit.
Taste: Anise, raspberry, corn, butter, lemon, wood, caramel
And just like the original, the taste doesn’t hold a candle to the nose. Big nose? Yeah, we have spice, raspberry, earth, wood and butter/caramel. And that’s about it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, it’s just not the nose. Don’t write checks with the nose that your taste can’t cash.
Finish: Blue freezee, nutmeg, sea air, pepper, carrot, wood chips
And back to interesting flavours again, though few and somewhat short.
I still want a Blue Freezee though.
Conclusion: A big promise failed by the taste and then revived by a pretty alright finish. This is slightly better than the Rye in that it’s not a one trick pony. And it’s better than the original in that it doesn’t completely let you down, or run around and desert you.
I liked the odd sweet notes, and the earth mixed with the sweetness. That said, only a little better than the rye. Needs more finish.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #240
Why do I do this to myself? I mean, flavoured whiskey, right? Sure, I found out I liked Drambuie, but… Knob Creek Smoked Maple? What am I thinking?
I’m thinking that this release from 2013 means I finish up the damn vertical, that’s what it means.
Also “aged patiently” (seriously, fuck that guy who kept asking when it was going to be done), and this time mixed with smoke and maple. Why? Because Booker used to smoke his own meat (make your own jokes) and tap his own maple syrup (again, your own jokes).
So of course they dumped it into some young ass whiskey that probably wasn’t sell-able.
Well, at least it could be worse: He could have been into fucking bananas and not bathing, and we’d get dick cheese banana flavour.
Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Region: Kentucky, though who knows where the flavouring is from… oh, I mean “maple syrup”
Colour: 2.5YR 4/6
Nose: Maple, mesquite, honey, butter, doughnut, walnut
What a surprise.
Honestly, it wasn’t. I could smell it a foot away from my face as I poured it. It’s maple, and smoke. Eventually though… eventually it ends up with a few, tiny more flavours.
Sickly sweet as heck too.
Taste: Smoke, maple frosting, butter, ginger, BBQ sauce
Oh, you’re still here. It’s SMOKE AND MAPLE!
A little bit of butter and ginger tries to escape. They are hung until they are dead. The smoke and maple has taken them.
Finish: Maple, anise, cayenne, strawberry jam
Oddly enough, it’s just maple at the end. The smoke…
…has turned into spice and heat. And strawberry jam. Which was a nice surprise.
Conclusion: Use this as maple extract for baking you don’t give a shit about. Just don’t drink it, it’s way too sweet.
They nearly have some interesting notes outside of the smoke and maple. Nearly. And that makes it a better flavoured whiskey.
That said, that bar isn’t too high.
Bourbon review #73-76, Kentucky #50-53, Whiskey Network review #522-525