Cigar Aficionado

Knob Creek Single Barrel Debuts

Knob Creek Bourbon is set to launch a single-barrel whiskey, the first new release since the brand was introduced in 1992 as the original member of Jim Beam's four-part Small Batch Bourbon Collection.

The whiskey is the first-ever single-barrel entry in the Collection and is the only nine-year-old of its ilk. The new release represents a 20-proof hike in alcohol content from the original (120 proof, or 60 percent alcohol, from 100 proof, or 50 percent). It also differs from the standard release in that is not chill filtered. Chill filtration is a process by which fatty particles in the whiskey are trapped by first cooling it and then straining it. The immediate effect is cosmetic—to remove a cloudy appearance in the liquid when chilled or water is added—but some feel chill filtration can strip flavor.

Master distiller Frederick Noe, the great-grandson of Jim Beam, announced in the October issue of Cigar Aficionado that the company would soon release a single-barrel Knob Creek. Noe is following the basic tenets of the original Knob Creek (taking whiskey that fit the taste profile from central areas of the warehouses after nine years of aging), but picking specific barrels for their special flavors. The package includes the familiar rectangular shape and black wax seal on the cork.

Because the Bourbon is not melded with other barrels as most whiskey is, consumers can expect to find slight variations from bottle to bottle.


A bunker buster of a whiskey that grabs you on the nose with vanilla, cream and an array of rich spices and then keeps digging in. On the palate comes the real spice explosion (cinnamon and ginger) joined by caramel, walnuts, toffee and a pronounced maltiness. The long, lush finish is all about peanut brittle, but informed by toasty, earthy wood tannins that are almost gritty. Apply a splash of water or an ice cube to uncover panoplies of variant flavors.

Appearance: Deep copper color. Gives up its legs very slowly.

Nose: Rich vanilla, crème brulee, cinnamon, licorice, orange peel, root beer.

Palate: Incredibly candied flavors, followed by a spice explosion with an underlying maltiness, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, caramel, toffee, walnut.

Finish: Peanut brittle with a tingly structured finish. Toasty wood tannins. Walnuts and earth.

"Like the thought & definitely wish to try it. Not directed at Beam but the industry in general seems to be stuck on creating limited editions and special bottling after bottling (= bigger asking prices) but much of it appears to take place through sacrificing & robbing supply meant for standard product. jmho" —January 18, 2011 15:58 PM
"Nice to see non-chilled filtered and higher SPG. Akin to cask strength Scotch whisky." —January 15, 2011 01:34 AM