After Monday’s discontinued Heaven Hill 6, Bottled in Bond, and Tuesday’s single cask release of Heaven Hill 9, here’s a widely available bourbon: the Knob Creek Small Batch. As you may know, Knob Creek is one of Jim Beam’s fancy lines. It’s made from a low rye mash bill (75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley)—the same mash bill that produces the regular Jim Beam, I think, and also Booker’s. The difference with the more downmarket Jim Beam presumably is age—the regular Knob Creek is in the 8-9 yo band, I think—and cask selection; does the difference with Booker’s go beyond Booker’s much higher abv? People who actually know about bourbon can write in and answer/correct/expand as necessary. I’ve always enjoyed Knob Creek, both as a casual sipper and in cocktails and am glad to finally get to writing up some tasting notes.
Knob Creek Small Batch (50%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Caramel corn, some oak, a mildly yeasty breadiness. Light herbal notes emerge with time (dill, mint) and then there’s some cinnamon. Softer with a bit of water and fruitier too—apricot, orange peel; a slight leafy note too. The herbal notes expand too.
Palate: The herbal notes are stronger here and there’s more oaky bite—though it’s not tannic at all. Very drinkable at full strength. Spicier (cinnamon) and sweeter (cinnamon, caramel) on the second sip. Less oaky with water and more balanced.
Finish: Medium. The oak expands and then the herbal note remains at the end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: There is nothing very special going on here; this is just a very solid bourbon. As I said, a good casual sipper and also very good in Manhattans and Scofflaws. I liked it better with a bit of water.
Rating: 85 points.