Review: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon

Review: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon

Knob Creek Smoked Maple

Finally, someone’s doing the maple-flavored whiskey thing right.

Let me step back. In general I’m ambivalent toward flavored whiskeys. I don’t much see the point, as if I wanted flavor with my whiskey I’d just mix up a cocktail. Still, shortcuts are shortcuts, and there’s something to be said for having your favorite mix pre-bottled and ready to go.

The reason for the success isn’t hard to see. This is overproof Knob Creek (normally 100 proof) with a fairly light touch of maple syrup flavor, instead of the all-too-common other way around: Syrup that’s had a dash of whiskey added to it. Even with the additions, Knob Creek Smoked Maple comes through at 90 proof, still well above the typical 70 to 80 proof you find in this category.

The results are impressive. While pancake syrup fills the room when you crack open the bottle (sealed with the traditional Knob Creek black wax), but that’s where the maple effect is its strongest. Nosing an aerated glass brings out Bourbon first, maple syrup considerably further down the list. On the palate, the mouthfeel is solid — a bit more gummy than straight whiskey, but plenty pleasant. The maple character is there, all right, making it tough to pick out specific notes in the Bourbon, but in the end, after the pancake party is over, I find myself left with citrus peel, marshmallow, ice cream cone, and toffee characters on the finish. The one thing I don’t get here: Smoked anything.

Now I’m the kind of guy who prefers pancakes with butter only, so for me to say Knob Creek’s Smoked Maple is a worthwhile product, even a rather good one, is like the Pope saying he isn’t going to judge gay priests. Er, wait a sec.

90 proof.


Knob Creek Smoked Maple 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. Anonymous on January 19, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I’m finishing off a bottle right now. Good stuff, tho’ a bit sweet for my taste buds (although it beats the hell out of Crown Royal Maple). A nice experiment but I don’t think I’ll be buying it again.

  2. Pablo on August 29, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Now,…I know the reviewer is holding back. The review is back handed in it’s positive review of this “bourbon”. So,…I’ll say what he really wanted to say — this stuff stinks. Period.
    It tastes like straight maple syrup mixed with Knob Creek’s, super sweet regular expression. No depth, no smoke, no anything that taste like good bourbon,…..just,…sweet, sweet candy sweet. If I need a little hair of the dog in the morning I’ll pour this on my flap jacks, that’s about all it’s good for.

    It’s almost unbelievable to me that a well respect whisky producer like Knob Creek would actually release a product this bad. Close to putrid.

  3. Billy on November 26, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Is Drink Hacker a shill for Knob Creek (or Jim Beam in general)? Because this is some vile crap. Best used to pour into a sink or toilet and flush. Actually, that’s a bad idea,…could potentially taint the water supply. Jim Beam should send an army of it’s employees out to any liquor stores in the world that still stock this swill and retrieve every bottle of it to dispose of properly — in an incinerator. Embarrassing Knob Creek’s name is even on it…..

  4. Meredith on June 9, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    On the rocks with a slice of bacon (or three) as a stirrer and it’s delicious. Take a bit of bacon every couple of sips. Heaven.

  5. Anonymous on March 8, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Great! It’s my new go to on weekends. Just a bit of sweet without the diabetic sugar rush of other whiskeys.

  6. Chirard on June 23, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Just bought and tasted some of this tonight. I’m not a huge whiskey drinker normally, but I do like Knob Creek and maple. This stuff goes down easy, rather enjoyably. It might have a bit too much sweet maple flavor, but the smoke is about right. It’s not hot like most whiskeys, but pleasantly warm instead. The only thing I agree with Pablo and Billy is that it’s good on pancakes :p

  7. Wendy on October 18, 2020 at 7:17 am

    I’m a chocolatier by trade, not a whisky drinker. That said, the smoked maple bourbon truffles (infused into milk chocolate) and some of my most popular – and you definitely taste the bourbon. And also in my smoked maple bourbon caramels.

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