If 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%)
Conclusion: 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%)