When the bourbon shortage hit Kentucky in 2015, one of the casualties was the nine year age statement for Knob Creek. Four years and plenty of increased production later, Beam has not only given the age statement back to the standard Small Batch, but it has also recently added another, even older age-stated bourbon to the lineup, Knob Creek Bourbon 12 Years Old. It’s unclear how much of the new, elder Knob Creek is hitting the market or how often it will be released. Let’s take it for a spin!
This might be one of the best noses on a Knob Creek that I’ve encountered, and that includes the 25th Anniversary and the 2001 Limited Edition. Initially, it’s a bit burly with big woodshop notes and secondary aromas of split vanilla bean, ginger snaps, brown sugar, and a trace of candied apple. The lumber yard subsides as the whiskey opens, leveling off to reveal earthy notes of cigar box, wet tobacco, and cocoa powder, along with a touch of butterscotch pudding. The palate is on the lighter side, not nearly as rich as the nose suggests, but honeyed and mouth-coating nonetheless. Even with the softer profile, there’s plenty to enjoy here with sweet oak, peanut brittle, and caramel candies. It’s easy sipping for the proof with a subtle, warming heat and finishes medium-length and in classic fashion with toasted sugar, cinnamon, and a little flamed orange peel.
I anticipate some criticism with this release since there are plenty of great Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve picks on the shelves, many older and all at a higher proof, that show more complexity and bigger, bolder flavors for the same price (or cheaper). Still, it’s nice to see a more widely available, well-aged Knob Creek that’s approachable enough for a more refined, everyday sip.