Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon

Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon

Bottle on Transparent - Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

Next January (yes, 2011), the iconic Knob Creek will be releasing a new whiskey, expanding a line that, like Maker’s Mark before it, has resolutely stuck to one single product for all its life — 20 long years.

That product is Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve — a single barrel, higher-proof version of its incredibly popular big brother.

And we got to try it early to tell you what we think.

Color us fans.

At 120 proof, this new Knob Creek is scorching hot, and too impossibly strong to drink without cutting it down. It needs water, and more than a splash.

Once down to sipping strength, this bourbon’s charms are readily apparent. Standard Knob Creek is complex but on the sweet side, its oak balanced by vanilla and a gently sugary texture. Knob Creek Single Barrel is bigger and burlier — evident even after it is brought down to an appropriate proof.

The vanilla core is still there (and the bourbon, we should add, is still 9 years old), but the most noteworthy addition is considerably more wood character — which is the same trick Maker’s pulled with Maker’s 46 — but Knob Creek Single Barrel also has an intriguing finish that its standard-edition predecessor lacks. Candy-like but aromatic, it’s toffee and incense, leather and rosemary. Very intriguing, and it grows more apparent as you drink more of it.

Next to standard Knob Creek at $26, Single Barrel is hardly decadent at a paltry $40. Try some when it arrives in four short months and let us know what you think!

Will update this post with a picture of the bottle when a photo becomes available.


Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. John Werner on February 16, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I just am finishing my first tasting and your review is true to my experience. I have read complaints about the price, but since it is so good and the strength is so strong you can mix it further (more quality water) and still really enjoy the stuff. The finish is the surprise…more candy and bakery goodness than expected. Even with the sweetness you can get a real burn when swallowing though if you mix it on the strong side. I will use it to replace Booker for the time being in my bourbons and that will save me over $10 a bottle…so, I’m saying this release is a success and if the price gets lower over the course of the release it will even become a strong buy recommendation for value too.

  2. David on April 4, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Instead of cutting it with water , try it streight and chase it with Jim Beam and Coke..

  3. JC on November 27, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I just bought a bottle Single Barrel Knob Creek today and I love it. I don’t have a problem drinking it neat as long as I sip and enjoy the flavors. Finish isn’t bad either in terms of the heat as long as I sip. I love this Single Barrel Knob Creek. This is now definitely my favorite high ALC VOL bourbon that’s readily accessible.

  4. Erik on November 8, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I recently purchased a bottle of the single barrel after positive experiences with the standard Knob Creek. Honestly, intially I was a little disappointed with how it tasted straight out of the bottle at 120 proof. I have a bottle of Russel’s Reserve Single Barrel which is 110 proof that I love neat. So I’m not afraid of strong whiskey. However, after I proofed this down to about 100 proof by adding water the Knob Creek Single Barrel is absolutely delightful. So I completely agree with your review.

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