Age: 15 Years
Mash Bill: 77% Corn, 13% Rye, 10% Barley
Yield: 102 bottles
Received: August 2019
Beam’s original Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon (pictured below) was first introduced in 1992 as part of Jim Beam’s new Small Batch Series. That series consisted of Booker’s Small Batch Bourbon (a barrel strength small batch bourbon named after then Master Distiller Booker Noe), Baker’s 7 Year Small Batch Bourbon (a 107 proof small batch bourbon named after an earlier Beam family distiller), Basil Hayden’s Small Batch Bourbon (named after the distiller more commonly known as Old Grand Dad) and Knob Creek.
Knob Creek is named after Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home, the Knob Creek farm in Kentucky. The creek runs nearby Jim Beam’s Clermont, Kentucky, distillery. But the origins of the brand and the name go back much further than 1992. Knob Creek was once a brand utilized by an Ohio distiller owned by the famed National Distillers (Beam bought out National Distillers in 1987– or more properly, National Distillers was merged out of existence; National Distiller was thus closed, but today whiskeys actually produced there have developed a cult-like following).
Knob Creek shares a recipe with all of the other Jim Beam bourbons, except the higher-rye recipe Old Grand Dad/Basil Hayden lines acquired from National Distillers. Despite the same recipe, Knob Creek is believed to be distilled at a slightly lower proof than the others, and is stored at select areas of warehouses, all to develop a specific Knob Creek flavor profile.
In 2010, Jim Beam released a barrel strength single barrel edition of Knob Creek. Shortly thereafter, Beam launched the Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Experience (Read more about it in the drop-down below).
In 2016, Beam pulled the nine year age statement off the standard 100 proof Small Batch bottles. It has since been without an age statement, meaning there is no indication on the bottle indicating exactly how old (or young) the particular bourbon may be. The Single Barrels all retain a 9 year age statement. In 2019, Beam announced that the age statement on the Small Batch would be returning.
For those who may not know, most bourbon products are a blend of multiple barrels of whiskey from (usually) a single distillery. The blend is created to create a specific flavor profile, as barrels housed in different locations (and for different lengths of time) may have very different characteristics and tastes.
A “single barrel” bourbon, in contrast, is bottled from a single barrel. What this means is that while one bottle of a batched whiskey is likely to taste exactly like the next, one bottle of whiskey from a single barrel may taste very different from a bottle from another barrel.
Jim Beam allows select liquor stores, bars/restaurants, and even some “whiskey clubs” to select their own barrel of Knob Creek bourbon, which they call the “Knob Creek Single Barrel Experience.”
Knob Creek has simplified this process by sending out barrel selection kits, like that pictured above. The process provides for sampling of three different barrels from three 100ml samples. The kit contains specific information on each barrel, note sheets, and even “Knob Creek water” that can be used to dilute the bourbon down to closer to the 120 proof strength that the bottles ship.
Knob Creek Single Barrel (Sample B) (128.7 proof) (Barreled February 11, 2004) (Selected by Scott Hill, Jamie Baalmann and Stephen Benson of Flight Club, and Tom Kessler, Keaton Kessler and James Denning of Tom’s Wine and Spirits)
Nose: Very rich, with bold flavors and not overpowering burn, despite the proof. Peanut brittle; vanilla; rye bread; butterscotch; brown sugar; milk chocolate; dust; grape skin; plum; apple skin. Complex and well married aromas.
Palate: Salt and brine (which took us for a pleasant surprise); peanut brittle; brown sugar. Creamy. A few drops of water adds minerality and herbal character.
Finish: Apple; Peanut M&M’s. Medium to long in length. A fitting conclusion to the experience, while at the same time providing a great introduction to the next sip.