Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Aged 9 Years Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

IMG_2004If you ever get to visit Jim Beam (a distillery well worth a visit), one option that is offered to you is to bottle your own bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel. When I first went, I opted to do this, and while it sounds exciting – really there isn’t much involved: you get to clean a new bottle before putting it on the assembly line to get a label put on it and to fill it by the machines. There are different ways that bottles are cleaned before they are filled – some use compressed air, some use vodka, some use distilled water -but at Jim Beam they just wash the bottles with bourbon. This whiskey, like the small batch, is soon losing its age statement – sad for a bourbon which already has some good age on it. As a single barrel, this bourbon will vary from barrel to barrel – but the general characteristics should hold. The whiskey comes in at a hefty 60%, which will be quite close to barrel proof.

Nose: Slightly creamy, with oak, cherries, and orange evolving to include coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, apples – almost like spice cake dough. With time, spices really come out – white pepper, and, especially and notably, brown (not green) cardamom. The score on the nose has gone up with multiple reviews, as it takes the spirit a bit of time to really open up. Diluting this one down to about 50% ABV really does some good work to show the complexity underneath. 26.5/30 (88%)

Taste: Very hot at first, with some anise and marshy oak before warming hay, honey, and oak come toward a big sweet finish. Cinnamon, apples, and more spices present too. A fair bit goes on, with 3-4 distinct movements in each sip which is quite wonderful – this one is packed with flavour. 27/30 (90%)

Finish: Big oak, honey, corn husks, custard, apple, freshly charred oak, bananas, and brown cardamom. Spicy, with good body and length. 18/20 (90%)

IMG_2006Conclusion: This is a nice, well put-together bourbon. The spiciness is quite remarkable, and the whiskey will grow on you if you’re anything like me – I have found myself liking it more with each successive tasting. 18.5/20 (93%)

Overall: 90/100

Review: Knob Creek Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Aged 9 Years)

IMG_2023 This whiskey is a core bourbon of the Jim Beam small batch collection, which includes Knob Creek, Booker’s, Basil Hayden’s, and Baker’s – and this whiskey is the oldest of the lot at 9 years (though it is soon losing its age statement which means younger whiskies can make their way in). A small batch whisky means that the whiskey is composed of batches which have a smaller number of barrels (typically of higher grade whiskey) produced in a smaller quantity than the typical higher volume products, though I’m sure a “small” batch at Jim Beam is not that small. The whiskey is named after Knob Creek, which was the home of Abraham Lincoln when he was growing up.

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Review: Knob Creek Rye Whiskey

IMG_2029This whisky is “patiently” aged, as opposed to the (for now) age statements of 9 years across the Knob Creek bourbons. This is the latest addition to the Jim Beam small batch collection, and much of the best of the Jim Beam rye whiskey goes into this. It bothers me that it’s not labeled as a “straight” rye…are they adding colouring?

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Review: Baker’s Aged 7 Years Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

IMG_2016For whatever reason, this bourbon is the one which I seem to hear about the least of the bourbons in the Jim Beam small batch collection. It’s odd, perhaps, because it is a solid bourbon, and the price is good. It comes in at 53.5%, is aged 7 years, and is fairly available. Each bottle has a batch number on it – this reviewed batch is B-90-001.

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Review: Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

IMG_2019This whiskey was introduced in 1992 as part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection – it was modelled after the whiskey and recipe made by Basil Hayden, a distiller in the late 1700s. The whiskey used to carry an age statement of 8 years, but is now “artfully aged”, i.e. not as old. Likewise, it used to be a “straight” bourbon – but now no longer carries that description. This whiskey has the lowest alcohol content (40%) of any of the Jim Cream Small Batch Collection (which includes the Knob Creek line, Booker’s, and Baker’s), and is crafted to be a lighter bourbon. This bourbon is unique in that it has a higher rye content (the recipe uses about 30%), which is nearly double that of the other Jim Beam products.

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Review: Forty Creek Confederation Oak Canadian Whisky (Batch C)

IMG_2035 (Large)Tonight, the Canadian whisky awards get announced, and in anticipation, why not post a review for another batch of Confederation Oak. I have now tasted all the batches A-F, lucky indeed. E, though I didn’t review it, showed some more fresh oak than the others but didn’t impress me in my far-from-ideal tasting of it during the Forty Creek Whisky Weekend. This sample is thanks to a fun sample swap with a reader of the blog!

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Review: Ardbeg Uigeadail Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

IMG_2132This bottling is a classic of the Ardbeg range, indeed, quite a classic in whisky as a whole. Originally, it combined old Ardbeg sherry-casked whisky with young, muscular and smoky Ardbeg – a classic use of different ages to balance a whisky and create complexity well (and, a worthwhile use of a no-age-statement whisky!). However, the age of the sherry casks, many suspect, has dropped since the initial releases. Batches also vary – the best are among the best you can buy, and the worst make you really wish you didn’t blow all the money to get a bottle (though I haven’t had a terrible batch, but a few I would definitely not pay for, if not all of them – is any whisky worth the $180 you pay in Ontario for this? Whisky, as fabulous as it is…is just whisky, and there is much to be had at a lower clip than this one). You can tell what batch you have by a bottle code on the side of the bottle which will tell you what batch your whisky is from (see here). This code on this reviewed bottle is L61360 31/03/2015 1500312 18:45.

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