It’s the ultimate tragedy for the bourbon or whisk(e)y connoisseur…the loss of the beloved age statement.
We all know that most companies strive to, and I would say usually reach, a consistent profile with most of their batched products. However since, legally, you can only state the age of the YOUNGEST whiskey in the batch many companies will opt to simply drop the statement instead of going through the work of applying for a new label with the government every time they have to batch in even just a little bit of younger product to match their profile. Hence, in 2016 when the Knob Creek line lost it’s standard 9 year age statement many were upset (even though, in every regular 100 proof Knob Creek, I found the profile to remain rather consistent and solid). But alas it it s a new day! And after last year where many saw a plethora of single barrel store picks of KC aging anywhere from 12-15 years we could see that there was indeed some higher aged Knob stocks to be had. Well the Beam crew finally let the cat out of the bag with their newly released Knob Creek 12 Year product proofed at 50% ABV
But how does this stand up in the line of Knob Creek products? Let’s taste and find out!
KNOB CREEK 12 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Age stated 12 years (obviously)
- 100 proof/ 50% ABV
- Distilled by Jim Beam in Clermont, KY
NOSE: Wood and oak hit you immediately followed by brown sugar. As you go in again you get that familiar bubblegum note that I find in products like this that are higher aged but NOT barrel proof. Eagle Rare comes to mind with it’s 10 years and 90 proof. Lighter tannic notes are more noticeable than in the higher aged 120 proof picks that have been so popular with people - including myself. Upon further investigation plum and stone fruit waft up after a few sips.
PALATE: Candy spice hits as does a slightly floral/herbal note. The age makes itself known here with the amount of wood on the both the tongue and its oaky drying on the middle of the roof of your mouth. It’s interesting as I find those bold 120 proof store picks as well as the regular 100 proofer Knob’s to be sweeter. The former with it’s full, nearly uncut, flavor and the latter with perhaps it’s younger age showcasing less wood and more corn sweetness. But what’s left here are more subtle layers of grape, bubblegum, and bitter fruit. A medium finish reveals a strong taste of wood and almost raisin on the roof of the mouth.
Overall: This is a very interesting pour. Many will tell you that 8 to 12 year mark is bourbon’s sweet spot and at the higher end of that range I find a lot of nuance in Knob Creek’s offering. Proofing it down to 100 proof makes those subtle oak notes more pronounced and gives nuance to the pour. While the higher proof picks and younger 100 proof products may have more of a general crowd pleasing sweetness - to me this is further proof of how good the Knob Creek line is. Whether an affordable sweeter sipper, a well aged nuanced 100 proof pour, or a 120 proof single barrel banger there is a plethora of quality in Beam’s small batch collection. And all this in a $60 package for a 12 year stated product in THIS bourbon market is quite frankly a steal.