This week I am reviewing things that are not single malt whisky. On Monday I had a rum; today I have a bourbon.
Monday’s rum was a blend of rums from two unnamed distilleries, one Jamaican and one Guyanese. Today’s bourbon also has some mystery attached to it but in this case I can dispel all of it. Blaum Bros. is a craft distillery in Galena, Illinois, but they did not distill this bourbon. Hence the name: Knotter Bourbon (say it slowly). In an industry rife with brands that tell tall tales about what they do or don’t do, Blaum Bros. are refreshingly transparent. This bourbon is from a barrel acquired from the great MGP factory in Indiana; a barrel that contained 10 yo bourbon. It was bottled for a group of online ne’er do wells, the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers (or LLUA), a group of which I may or may not also be a member. This was, if I remember correctly, the group’s first private barrel selection (both Blaum brothers are also members). I’m a little hazy now on how long ago this was bottled: 2018? 2017? In fact, I thought I’d reviewed it right after I’d opened the bottle whenever it was I received it—and only recently realized that I had never gotten around to it. Now the bottle is past the halfway mark and so it seems like time to put some notes down.
Oldfangled Knotter Bourbon 10 (60.7%; Blaum Bros. for LLUA; from my own bottle)
Nose: Caramel, black tea, plum, lemon peel. An herbal note runs through it all on the second sniff (dill). The fruit expands as it sits: the plum is joined by some dark marmalade; some cinnamon and some vanilla too now. A little more oak with time Water pushes the oak back and pulls out more of the fruit and more baking spices—some nutmeg to go with the cinnamon.
Palate: Comes in pretty much as indicated by the nose. At this point in the bottle’s life the burn of the abv has eased and it is pretty approachable neat; good texture. Sweeter on the second sip. The oak is in the background. Continues in this vein. Okay, let’s add some water. Sweeter still with water (brown sugar leading to simple syrup).
Finish: Long. As the sweeter notes fade, the oak and the cinnamon have the final word. There’s nothing tannic about the oak. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, my memory of the first half of the bottle is now faint but the current incarnation is a very pleasant and very well balanced bourbon. A good one to sip slowly over the course of an evening, as I did on this occasion. My guess is it would make a very good Manhattan as well (if you’re in the habit of putting $80 bourbons in cocktails) and also pair well with dark chocolate.
Rating: 87 points.