We write a lot about whisky, but even the most snobbish connoisseur of Scotch single malts enjoys the occasional bourbon. This Kentucky whiskey has a lot to offer when it comes to drinking enjoyment, especially when the spirit is well-made and matured to perfection. One great example of connoisseur level bourbon whiskey is Knob Creek, which is made by Jim Beam. This small batch bourbon is part of Beam’s “Small Batch Bourbon Collection,” which includes Booker’s, Baker’s and other well-known names in the whiskey world.
Knob Creek 9 was crafted to resemble the artisan quality of bourbons made in small stills prior to the Prohibition. The labeling and marketing follow this theme, hinting at the flavors to be found within. If this is what pre-Prohibition whiskeys were like, we can see why drinking was such a huge problem back in the old days. This bourbon almost tastes like a sweet bourbon sauce or one of the many desserts that use this Kentucky whiskey. It is rich, dark and sweet in the same mouthful, with a delightful syrupiness that is balanced by the heaviness of wood.
The Knob Creek 9 Year is mature beyond its years, with a complexity that balanced the bourbon wood beautifully. It won the Whisky Bible award in 2011 and has received quite a bit of acclaim from whiskey lovers. This might lead you to think that it is all hype, but a single tasting will change your mind forever. It is placed in a very accessible price range, which means that you will not have to drain your bank account to have a very enjoyable evening sampling this bottle.
Nose: 20/25. The nose of the Knob Creek 9 Year is full of caramel, oak and syrup. It has undertones of raisins and smoke. There is a hot smell, like it is actually burning in the glass, along with the richness of nuts and honey. It is definitely a pleasant and enticing prelude to the palate.
Palate: 21/25. More caramel and honey here, along with a maple syrup taste and just a touch of dried fruit. However, the sweet flavors quickly give way to the complex flavors of charred wood. There is a definite bitterness and warm winter spices. These give way to a simple wood flavor.
Finish: 20/25. Did we mention wood? The finish is long and dry, with more oak and a little bit of leafy herbs. Interestingly, the sweetness returns at the very end along with flowery tastes, allowing the Knob Creek 9 Year to end on a high note.
Character: 21/25. Bourbon lovers will be head-over-heels for this rich and complex spirit. Even single malt connoisseurs will find a lot to love about the Knob Creek 9. The oak is a little overwhelming at times, especially in the finish, but this adds to the strength of the whiskey and fortifies a spirit that might otherwise be cloying. It definitely has an old fashioned feel to it, even if you don’t look at the label.
Overall Rating for Knob Creek 9 Year Old Whiskey: 82/100.