Knob Creek Bourbon was first released in 1992 as part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch collection. Marketed as a “Pre-Prohibition Style” whiskey, Knob Creek is known for its big, bold, upfront flavor. Last Summer, the distillery released Knob Creek 25th Anniversary, an unfiltered single barrel bottled at cask strength to commemorate the quarter-century milestone for the iconic brand. Typical of any single barrel offering, the age and proof vary from bottle to bottle, but they are all between 12-13 years and in the 120-125 proof range. Knob Creek 25th Anniversary is the first regular offering of a barrel proof bourbon under the Knob Creek name – the Private Select Single Barrels are typically bottled at barrel proof, but the standard release is bottled at a consistent 120 proof.
As a reminder, “Small Batch” has no official definition or parameters. The term was coined by Jim Beam when they released their Small Batch collection of Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s, Baker’s, and Booker’s. According to the distillery, however, the 25th Anniversary release is made up of 300 barrels – around 25,000-30,000 bottles.
- ABV: 60.6%, 120.2 Proof
- Age: 12-13 years depending on the barrel date (Mine was 02/25/2004)
- Company/Distillery: Beam Suntory / Jim Beam
- Mash Bill: Estimated 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley
- Price: $130 / 750 mL
Appearance: Auburn, Polished Mahogany
Nose: Rye Spiciness, Clove, Caramel, Toasted Oak
Taste: Predictably hot, lots of spiciness, Caramel and Vanilla sweetness, Cinnamon
Finish: Long, Spicy, good amount of Oak and Cinnamon Spice
Overall: This may be the most “true to its brand” special release bourbon I’ve ever tried. The flavor profile is right on track with everything that Knob Creek is, with added complexity, proof, and age. One thing I’d like to note is that now that the bottle is about half empty, it has mellowed out quite a bit. While still very up front and spicy, it’s not nearly as hot as when I opened the bottle in December.
This is a great bourbon that I will gladly enjoy until the bottle is gone, but will I buy it again? Probably not unless the price magically drops (It won’t). When you consider the fact that the $130 I’d spend on this could get me a bottle of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and Old Forester 1920, it’s a little harder to justify. And yeah, I get it…those are both pretty much polar opposites of Knob Creek’s identity. But the standard Single Barrel Knob Creek is around $40 for 120 proof. Sure, the 25th Anniversary is better….but is it 3x better? I don’t think so. Try it at a bar and decide for yourself if it’s worth the price tag.