Whisky Advocate

Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel

October 25th, 2010

This is the time of the year when many new whiskies are introduced. So, all week I’m going to be posting up reviews of new releases. The ratings range from 95 to 76.

Knob Creek Single Barrel, 9 year old, 60%, $40
This new single barrel expression of Knob Creek tastes very similar to the original “small batch” Knob Creek (when brought down to the same alcohol level). If anything, it’s slightly drier, more elegant, not as heavy on the palate, and more sophisticated — but I am reaching here. The similarity is a good thing, because I really enjoy the original expression. Keeping in mind that no two barrels are exactly alike, your decision to purchase the single barrel might just come down to whether you want to pay a little more for a higher strength version, and whether knowing that it might taste a little different than the standard small batch bottling excites you. This is a stylish, big, broad-shouldered bourbon with a thick, sweet foundation (nutty toffee, pot still rum, maple syrup) peppered with spice (cinnamon, but also vanilla and evergreen) and dried fruit. Dry, warming, resinous finish. (Incidentally, I would rate the small batch a point or two lower, and the tasting notes would be similar.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 94

15 Responses to “Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel”

  1. I am so looking forward to getting a bottle (or several different ones) of this! Hope it will reach European shores in a short while! It all sounds almost too good to be true, since the original is one of my favorite whiskeys ever!

  2. Vince says:

    John:

    Thanks for this review. I enjoy the small batch Knob Creek immensely but think I am going to pass on the Single barrel. There is so much great stuff out there that I have to reign in some of my purchasing decisions. To me, the beauty of the small batch is the consistency of flavor and taste that it represents. The 100 Proof Knob Creek meets this criteria and provides enough ABV to make it the only one I am really interested in. I may have a dram of the single barrel at a bar just to taste it.

  3. I really enjoy when companies decided to bottle either single barrel or at higher ABV. It’s nice to try a whisky as close to how it was distilled as possible. Not saying I don’t like the 40% ABV whiskies but I like to add my own water, thanks.

    Will definitely keep an eye out for this. I love the standard expression. It is one of the first premium bourbons I upgraded to so it has a soft spot in my heart. The fact that it’s damn tasty helps too.

  4. Texas says:

    John, How does this compare to Booker’s?

    • Bob Siddoway says:

      I am also wondering how it compares to Bookers? Personally, I love Bookers and I am hoping and guessing this new Knob will be very comparable. I do like the standard Knob quite a bit, though, too, so this will likely be one of my new favorites.

      • John Hansell says:

        Good question. I’ll have to track down a bottle of Bookers and do the comparison. My initial guess is that the Knob Creek will have more oak notes, give that it’s a little older, but I won’t know until I taste both at the same time.

  5. Jason Pyle says:

    Honestly, Knob Creek I’ve always felt to be pretty average stuff so this high rating is definitely a surprise to me. The small batch version has always laid it’s cards out too quickly for me, leaving little nuance and complexity beyond the cinnamon and wood spices, sweetness and the backbone of oak and char. I was thinking this could be a bit of a gimmick of sorts to offer it in SB form at barrel proof. I will have to give it a go as soon as we get it in our area.

    • John Hansell says:

      Well, then you probably won’t like this one much better. My sample was a little more elegant, which I thought was nice. But since they are all single barrel bottlings, I don’t know if the one you buy will taste the same.

      • Jason Pyle says:

        Makes sense about the variances in single barrels John. I look forward to trying it and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. I think those same variances from barrel to barrel are also what make it so unique. It’s fun to even grab a few from different barrels and compare them. Appreciate the review and response.

        • Red_Arremer says:

          I completely agree with every word you wrote about Knob, Jason. I too am pretty surprised to see John putting it in the 90’s, not that it’s bad stuff.

          • Texas says:

            I was glad to see John give it a good score (and JBB a while back). Too many of the whiskey reviewers don’t give the Beam products half a chance.

  6. smellmyskunk says:

    Thanks for this review. I like that you compared it to the small batch because this is a whiskey that I am familiar with so it provides a good point of reference.

  7. Gary says:

    Knob Creek was the first bourbon I tried when I decided to “grow up” and move from beer to whiskey. I am looking forward to this.

  8. Darin says:

    I have to completely disagree…. I bought this based on your review and it is simply horrible… I tried it neat and on the rocks.. The strongest flavor is the pure ethanol, followed by an extremely thin flavor profile….. It is simple and harsh…. I believe this to be one of the worst bourbons that I have ever tasted….(For reference, I do enjoy strong, full flavored bourbons and ryes…. Pappy Van Winkle and Thomas Handy Rye are my favorite drinks).. I am angered at how simple and tasteless this bourbon is, especially for the price….. Stay away from this one, unless you are mixing it…. And at this price, I would settle for Rebel Yell…

  9. [...] The higher proof makes all the difference. The Whisky Advocate must agree because they scored it 94pts. I’ve put together the KB SB Combo Pack, which includes (2) 750ml bottles and will be on sale [...]

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