A few days ago, we at of Iron & Oak received a glorious box on our doorstep. It was a box full of joy, a box full of wonder, a box full of Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. And it looks great in our mini bar.
As self-proclaimed whiskey connoisseurs, the sight of decent whiskey, let alone Knob Creek, appearing out of thin air is genuinely quite the prize. Not to sound like alcoholics or anything, but a truly good bottle of whiskey is a truly good bottle of whiskey, and that’s that.
In the box were two 750 ml bottles wrapped in bubble wrap. Upon removing them from their protective layers, Knob Creek’s famous labels, mimicking the age-old practice of wrapping bottles in newspaper, were revealed resting atop the two shiny bottles. Gifted to us were bottles of Knob Creek’s original Kentucky Straight Bourbon as well as their robust Single Barrel Reserve, both bottles resembling the shape of old-timey bootlegger’s flasks.
Knob Creek, named after a small stream that flowed through Abraham Lincoln’s childhood Kentucky home, was fathered by Jim Beam’s grandson, Booker Noe. It’s said that he may have been a Noe, but Beam ran through his veins.
Noe established Knob Creek with one goal in mind… to bring real bourbon back. Due to lack of funding, post-prohibition distillers were forced age them for a shorter period of time, developing weak whiskies rather than the rich, full flavors that bourbons of yesteryear were known for. Noe didn’t want to pull any punches. Noe wanted premium small batch bourbon.
Today, Knob Creek’s bourbon whiskey is apart of The Original Small Batch Bourbon Collection alongside other favored bourbons such as Basil Hayden, Booker’s and Baker’s. Knob Creek’s original Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Single Barrel Reserve as well as its newly praised Rye whiskey are also all three holders of the highest Double Gold honors at the 2012 San Francisco Spirits competition. That’s right. Winners.
For those of you who don’t know too much about whiskey to begin with, brush up with our handy guide to the wonderful world of whiskey. For those of you who consider yourselves knowledgeable about this fine spirit, feel free to continue on as we review the two bottles that were gifted to us: Knob Creek’s original Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Knob Creek’s Single Barrel Reserve. Hopefully we’ll be able to review Knob Creek’s Rye whiskey soon.
Sitting at 100 proof, Knob Creek’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has been aged for nine years in charred American white oak barrels. This elongated timeframe coupled with the fact that no coloring or flavoring has been included is what earned this bourbon its Straight Bourbon moniker, for Straight Bourbon must be aged at least two years and exist sans coloring or flavoring. I decided to keep it simple and enjoy this Straight Bourbon neat.
Upon smelling the bourbon before the first sip, nutty scents combined with grain and oak filled my nostrils. Once noticing its nutty aroma, it was almost impossible to stop. I found that my mouth was watering and I wanted to dive in.
After taking the first sip and swishing it around, coating my entire mouth with the substance, a burst of mild, spices and a slight burn erupted in my mouth followed by a rich, sweet sensation developing on my tongue with hints of fruit and oak.
The finish of this bourbon is smooth and woodsy. It goes down easy, nullifying its honest 100 proof alcohol content. As far as bourbon is concerned, the full-bodied nature of Knob Creek’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey proves it should be a staple in every man’s bourbon selection.
This 120 proof single barrel bourbon was released roughly two years ago in February of 2011. It’s meticulously hand-selected, barrel-by-barrel, by a team of Knob Creek’s own, providing only the richest expression of Knob Creek’s refined flavor. Each individual barrel has its own distinct taste, color and aroma based on its final age and rack placement.
Like Knob Creek’s original Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Single Barrel Reserve is considered Straight Bourbon, having also been aged for nine years without flavoring or coloring. It is the only single barrel bourbon that has been naturally aged for nine years in charred American white oak barrels.
The initial scent of Knob Creek’s Single Barrel Reserve filled my nose with strong hints of smoked vanilla and caramel. It’s higher proof could be noted in its scent, but it wasn’t overwhelming.
Upon tasting this bourbon neat, again swishing it around, a slightly harsher burn than Knob Creek’s original Straight Bourbon filled my mouth. It wasn’t overbearing, but the higher alcohol is definitely noticeable followed by a spicy sweet vanilla flavor. To dull down some of the more intense cinnamon sensations, I added a few drops of distilled water to bring out more of the vanilla as well as notes of nutty caramel. This made the bourbon easier for me to sip, although varying bourbon drinkers will likely have varying opinions.
Knob Creek’s Single Barrel Reserve long and full finish proved a tasty, satisfying experience. I’d personally enjoy sipping on this bourbon while warming up in front of a fireplace on a cold winter’s night.
There are many good bourbons on the market. Some good. Some not so good. Knob Creek has fortunately made a pretty good name for itself over the years. Between producing a high quality spirit at reasonable prices, winning awards, breaking barriers and staying true to their brand, Knob Creek will continue to dominate this bourbon enthusiast’s mini bar for years to come. Drink up and drink safe, gentlemen.
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