Knob Creek has been on a tear for the last few years, firing out new expressions faster than we can keep up with them (literally). The latest is Knob Creek Quarter Oak Bourbon, which “takes the brand’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, crafted in the pre-prohibition style fans expect from Knob Creek, and finishes it for a minimum of four years in quarter cask, American oak barrels to increase the amount of contact between the whiskey and wood.”
That’s a little unclear but since standard Knob Creek Bourbon had (and will soon again have) a 9 year old age statement, that makes for 13 years of total age… for a price of 50 bucks.
The question is: What does four years of extra quarter cask aging do to good old Knob Creek? Let’s find out.
Quarter casks can be a gimmick — and a potentially dangerous one that can quickly over-oak a whiskey — but in this case the gimmick works. Fresh oak is immediately evident on the nose, with a layer of spice spread on top of the lumberyard character. A modest level of beef jerky gives the nose an even more savory character and a distinctly frontier-style composure — though it’s never over the top.
On the palate, a significant sweetness immediately hits the palate, contrasting the woody aggression of the nose. A fruity note pops with elements of applesauce and lemon bars, with hints of graham crackers and caramel corn building in time. As the finish builds the wood never really makes a major reprise, allowing the whiskey to finish on notes of baking spice, Mexican chocolate, and Cracker Jack.
As it stands, I’m sold. But is it worth a $20 premium over standard Knob Creek (still one of the best values in bourbon)? You be the judge.