With literally thousands of whiskey distilleries now in America, each of them making multiple products each and every year, it becomes trickier and trickier for people to know what bottles they actually need in their home bar. Knob Creek® is an ideal choice due to its quality, complexity, and versatility. Even as the industry has undergone seismic change over the last three decades, the Kentucky brand has stood the test of time, remaining true to its roots.
“Its flavor profile is as rich and deep as its history,” explains Adam Harris, senior American whiskey ambassador for James B. Beam Distilling Co.
Named after the small town in Kentucky where Abraham Lincoln was born, Knob Creek was founded in 1992 with a mission to restore American whiskey to the way it was meant to be made — patiently aged, full-flavored, and always of the highest quality. Back then was a dark time for the industry, as consumers had spent the 1970s and ‘80s turning their backs on whiskey in favor of lighter, less flavorful spirits. Then-master distiller Booker Noe — Jim Beam’s grandson no less — dreamed of returning to the full-flavored bourbons of a pre-Prohibition era. And, since no one was buying bourbon at the time, he had plenty of aged stock to work with. What did he have to lose?
“He utilized some of the liquid that was already in the barrel,” explains Booker’s son and the current master distiller, Fred Noe. “He knew those were good.”
Booker’s hunch was right. And, nearly 30 years later, thanks to the push from pioneering brands like Knob Creek, we are currently in new a golden era of bourbon and rye, perhaps unlike any time before. In fact, there are so many whiskey enthusiasts clamoring for great bottles these days that many brands now face a problem they could have never foreseen back in 1992 — their stocks are dwindling. That has caused so many whiskeys to lower age statements, if not scrap them altogether, in order to stretch supply.
“You can’t rush production,” says Harris, noting how the Kentucky climate, with its huge fluctuations in temperature, is ideal for barrel aging. “But the wait is so worth it.”
Knob Creek still proudly labels 9 Years for its Straight Bourbon Whiskey and 12 Years for the Small Batch. This extra time and effort produces bourbons dark amber in color, with a rich aroma of toasted nuts, grain, and oak, and a palate that’s sweet, yet balanced, with robust notes of vanilla and fruit, followed by a glowing, lingering finish. This is surely in opposition to all the softer, milder whiskeys on the market today.
That is simply the way the Jim Beam family has always done things. In fact, Booker and Knob Creek may very well have created America’s love affair with small-batch bourbons when it launched in 1992. That romance extends to today as Knob Creek has begun to focus on literally the smallest batches possible, regularly releasing single barrels of bourbon and rye as part of its standard product line.
There is a Single Barrel Reserve bourbon, nine years old and 120 proof, meant to showcase the inherently unique nature of each and every barrel. Committed fans can also search private retailers and bars for Single Barrel Select Bourbon and Single Barrel Select Rye bottles — one-of-a-kind releases that are, by their nature, extremely limited and surprisingly diverse in profile. These are ideal bottles to cherish and luxuriate with.
Of course, while Knob Creek is refined enough to sip neat, its bold character means it also works splendidly in spirit-forward cocktails that really let the liquid shine, both classic and more modern. The Old Fashioned is ideal; use bourbon for a sweeter cocktail, rye if you’d like a spicier one that reveals Knob Creek Rye’s note of white pepper, citrus rinds, and mint. Other great cocktail options for Knob Creek include the Manhattan, Sazerac, and even the Boulevardier. For more modernized options, try a New Fashioned, a Bacon Old Fashioned, or even a Black Manhattan.
“This is what makes Knob Creek such a legend,” says Harris.
However you enjoy your whiskey, Knob Creek always fits the bill, and should always have a place at your home bar.
This article is sponsored by James B. Beam Distilling Co. ©2021 Beam Suntory Inc. Chicago, IL