Swirling in the overwhelming vastness of the whiskey world, Knob Creek‘s been a liquid of exceptional merit since Booker Noe, sixth-generation family member to be the Master Distiller of Jim Beam, decided to put it out there 25 years ago. Today, Knob Creek is overseen by Booker’s son Fred Noe, who is, as you might suspect, the seventh-generation Beam family member to oversee the powerhouse brand and its smaller sisters. To celebrate the milestone year, Noe himself selected around 300 barrels for release in the new 25th Anniversary Bourbon which is rolling into stores now.
Back in the day, Knob Creek was purportedly the first brand to sport the title “small-batch.” This term was nebulous. With the limited edition bourbon, one knows exactly what they’re getting: unfiltered, cask-strength single barrel bourbon. This is a first for the brand. While it’s always been higher proof, it’s never quite been this high. And actually Noe had previously shied away from single barrel releases because of their potential to veer slightly from the brand’s final profile. The balance of regular Knob Creek, like all other non-single barrel whiskies, comes from the blending of barrels. Here, the DNA intact from one bottle to another, but there is variation from age statement to proof. We tried two different iterations and can attest to the bold taste of both. Further, once the alcohol upfront burned off, we found that a round sweetness—powered by vanilla—takes hold of each and lasts for a very long time.
There’s a nod here to pre-prohibition whiskey and its gruffness, but of course, Noe imparts the family’s signature finesse—a touch that led Jim Beam to be the number one American whiskey in the world. With a spirit aged at least 12 years, the impact of the wood is visible from the amber coloration to the charred caramel notes that stretch from nose to tongue. This is an exemplary release and captures a slice of the whiskey world past and present. Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Bourbon retails for around $130.
Images courtesy of Knob Creek