Followers of American spirits will be pleased to know that you can now get the full range of Knob Creek Bourbons here, starting from S$130. Followers of good journalism will be pleased to know that there will no more horribly butchered headlines, starting from now.
When it comes to small batch bourbon, Knob Creek is one of the oldest around. It also does very well in international spirit competitions, and recently won the Double Gold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition for Small Batch Bourbon in the 6-10 Years category.
Knob Creek also has roots in one of bourbon’s biggest names: Jim Beam. It’s the brainchild of one of bourbon’s true legends, Booker Noe, the respected Master Distiller of the Beam company for over 40 years, and who also created the famous Booker’s range of bourbon.
Knob Creek was created to ‘restore the standards of pre-prohibition bourbon’ – which essentially meant a full flavoured Bourbon with more oomph. Prohibition had spectacularly wrecked the industry, forcing many distilleries such as Hannis to close for good, while those who manage to restart, had to think in the interests of survival, which we know, usually meant younger, lighter spirits that were cheaper to produce.
As a tip of the hat, Booker named Knob Creek after the small stream that flows through Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home in Kentucky, citing Lincoln’s ‘genuine Kentucky character’ and ‘unwavering stance’ as the best values to symbolise Knob Creek and its rebirthing of ‘honest bourbon’. Even the bottles are made in the likeness of turn-of-the-century bottles in Kentucky.
Knob Creek makes only straight bourbon whiskey, with its regular small batch offering aged for nine years in barrels with a level four char – the heaviest traditional charring level available (some use a level five, but that’s not considered traditional). The small batch is also served at 100 proof (50% ABV) for a fuller-bodied flavour.
As a small batch offering, it’s par for the course that Knob Creek has a limited range. Straight Rye whiskey is fairly new, having been introduced only in 2012, while the Smoke Maple Bourbon was released the following year. Here’s a quick rundown (official tasting notes below).
Smoked Maple Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with Natural Flavours
Smoked maple and barbecue flavours are bourbon’s soulmates and it’s only natural that if there ever is a flavoured bourbon, this flavour is a shoo-in. Purists will tut at the idea of a flavoured bourbon, which incidentally is legal if it’s flavoured after distillation, but it’s a necessary evil in this day and age to try and expose the label to potential fans of its signature bourbon.
COLOUR Copper to medium amber
TASTE Full-bodied, inviting maple notes that lift to smoke and are complemented with rich vanilla and caramel
AROMA Smoked hickory and maple wood, with hints of earthy grains
FINISH Smokey, smooth, and slightly sweet
This is quite an intensely sweet flavoured bourbon no doubt, but it goes well with food, and that’s how its best paired.
Straight Rye Whiskey
Also made in small batches, Knob Creek’s straight rye has no age declaration meaning it is at least two years old. The rye is bottled at 100 proof for big flavour, and it gives you that unique spicy, smooth flavour that’s great on its own, or in a classic like Old Fashioned or Manhattan.
COLOUR Shades of gold to light amber
TASTE Bold rye spiciness with undertones of vanilla and oak
AROMA Expansive notes of herbs and rye with nuances of oak
FINISH Warm and smooth with spice throughout
A pretty decent small batch rye, and is a good alternative within the Knob Creek range.
Single Barrel Reserve
For the fans who want a big bourbon, the Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is the epitome of Knob Creek’s vision. One-of-a-kind, and with its own unique nuances, it’s aged for at least nine years, and bottled at 120 proof for even more flavour. Despite the high proof, maturation tempers it somewhat and you have a strong, yet smooth and complex tipple.
COLOUR Our darkest and deepest amber and henna color
TASTE Deep and complex flavors of vanilla, nuts and oak
AROMA Robust vanilla and caramel notes; slightly smoky
FINISH Long and full; perfect for easygoing sipping
Ultimately the most fun of the lot; the individuality of the barrel always eager to spice things up. Which leaves us with…
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
The original that was supposed to restore the standards of pre-prohibition bourbon. Big, full flavour with rich and distinctive maple sweetness, coupled with a rich caramel and a long finish. Aged for nine years, it’s bottled at an ‘honest’ 100 proof to hark back to pre-prohibition whiskey.
COLOUR You can spot our deeper and darker amber pour
TASTE Takes over your palate with big notes of oak, caramel and fruit
AROMA Expansive notes of maple sugar, toasted nuts and oak
FINISH Long and smooth but with more kick than most
Dependable, bold, and very drinkable. Not much more you can ask from a bourbon, really, especially after a long hard day’s work. You can leave the bottle here please…
Ricky Paiva’s Old Fashioned
Although Knob Creek is made, presented, and sold as a premium whiskey, it’s no sin for it to be used in an old fashioned cocktail, like say err, and Old Fashioned. For those who have always had their bourbons neat, how about trying your hand at an easy-to-make cocktail? Acclaimed bartender Ricky Paiva has adapted a popular classic into a simple version that you can easily make at home.
50ml Knob Creek Bourbon
6-8 drops Bitters (adjust to taste)
3ml Sugar syrup (adjust to taste)
1pc Orange Peel
i. Mix sugar syrup and bitters in a rocks glass (tumbler), stir to mix
ii. Add bourbon and a liberal amount of ice (not the other way round please), stir again
iii. Twist orange peel over drink and drop in
iv. Kick back and enjoy
The full range of Knob Creek whiskeys are now available in Singapore. You can also buy them at The Beam Cellar, located at Mountbatten Square (229 Mountbatten Road, #01-03 to 07/#01-17 to 19).