Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Review

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Review

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is made by Jim Beam. It is in fact the exact same whiskey that’s found in Jim Beam White with three big differences. For starters Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is aged for at least 9 years; JBW is only aged for about 4. KC SiB is 120 proof (60%); JBW clocks in at the bare minimum 80 (40%) – which means more bourbon and less water in your bottle with KC. KC SiB comes from a single solitary barrel, making the product a continually unique experience; each run of JBW is a combination of hundreds of barrels in an effort to keep it tasting the same year over year.

Those unique properties of single barrel bottles is what makes them so fantastic. For example, Four Roses Single Barrel is one of my favorite whiskeys and when I drink it I’m not looking for consistency, like with Four Roses Yellow, I’m looking for variety. I’m looking for what’s different from one barrel to the next; the same goes for Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. That’s also why this week on TWJ I’m going to review 4 different barrels starting with this, a bottle the of the standard issue Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve I picked up at my local Bevmo.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Jim Beam
Mashbill: 77% Corn, 13% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Cask: New charred oak
Age: 9 Years
ABV: 60%

Price: $50

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Review

EYE
Saddle leather

NOSE
Corn, buttered biscuits and caramel. Add a dash of dried dark fruit, vanilla and a light bit of butterscotch and wood. Combine all of that, turn the volume own and you have the general idea. It’s a light and underwhelming nose. The Standard Knob Creek release beats this single barrel hands down in the aroma department.

PALATE
The flavor is a different story than the aroma with richer notes of dark fruit, toasted grain, wood, brown sugar, corn and spice. Some nice bits of caramel, brûlée and a hint of astringency pop in towards the end and add some great dimensions to the satisfying favor of this whiskey.

FINISH
Woody with notes of caramel, spice, corn and red licorice that die out quickly and turn back to wood for the long haul.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Moderate balance, thin body and a hot watery mouthfeel.

OVERALL
The nose on this Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is the biggest downfall of this bourbon followed by the experience (balance, body & feel). If everything was as rich and full as the flavor this would have been a stellar bottle / barrel of whiskey, but alas… it wasn’t and that’s both the pleasure and the pain of single barrels. When they’re on, they’re on and when they’re not, they’re a let down.

99 times out of a 100 releases like this are still better than the lowest level of whiskey these big producers put out (Old Crow in this case) so coming across a complete bomb isn’t likely… but it’s also not impossible. It’s a bit like playing Russian Roulette, but with exceedingly better odds and a significantly better outcome should you lose.

SCORE: 84/100

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 82
  • Palate - 86
  • Finish - 85
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 83

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Value

For the most part Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is a good value. This one didn’t impress me much, but it won’t dissuade me from buying more in the future.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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23 Responses to Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Review

  1. Wow. I have to disagree with you on this. It is one of my very favorite bourbons. I think it is one of the best overall expressions of American bourbon (at the price point).

  2. I think you’re bit nuts on this one. Thus far Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is the best Bourbon I’ve drank thus far. It’s fiery (in a good way) and has a beautiful depth of flavor and a great mouth feel and woody sweet finish. It blows Old Grand-Dad 114 out of the water though it should since it’s ten bucks more. Sorry that you paid $50.00 bucks, what’s up with that?

    I’m going to be trying the Old Weller Antique 107 in a next week or so and I hope it stands up to the KCSBR. I did really like the Old Grand-Dad 114 though, it just missed when compared to the Knob Creek SBR.

    Awesome site man.

  3. P.S.,

    I forgot to mention that the Knob Creek SBR I had was a pick from my local liquor store, maybe that makes a difference? I guess I’ll have to look for another expression to see what type of spread there is among the different barrels.

    Again, I really like your site. Great place to get a quick lowdown on good whisky.

  4. Josh….I hate to join the crowd on this one but I just opened my first bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve (standard issue from my ABC store)and was blown away at how expressive, bold, and just bourbon goodness this was. I’m a cigar smoker sometimes with a good bourbon and immediately went to my humidor to grab one and smoke while enjoying this bourbon neat. (Big) Also, considering I got this on sale for $43.95, could not be happier. Maybe not the most complex or nuanced of SBR’s out there (As in the Four Roses which I love too) but the boldness and big classic bourbon flavors of this one is a real keeper for me. Best Regards!

    • Sounds like you got a good barrel. That’s the thing with SiBs. Most are pretty good, some are stellar and then you get some that are duds. I definitely got a dud with this one. :/

  5. The SB phenomena is quite real. Proven by other offerings.

    In some cases, the only thing improved is the distiller’s bottom line. For instance, WT 101 is the best of that line – and the SB Russell’s offers no improvement, and even less in the taste department. Paying $2.21. oz versus $.76/oz simply gained me a lighter wallet. Note that the Russell’s is not bad, it simply is not worth paying 3 times more.

    Henry McKenna BiB,SB 10 Yr. also shows some variation between barrels, but it is all good since it is bourbon. And, thrifty in price.

    Not surprising that Knob Creek SB follows in the same pattern. I’m sure that some barrels are much tastier than some others.

    All that to say that there are some very good, tasty bourbons at non-premium prices out there.

    Good review and certainly the caution about SB offerings is prominent and not easily missed.

    • Some barrels are better than some batches of Booker’s but on the whole I think Booker’s batches tend to be more up my alley than most of the KC SiBs I’ve had.

      Cheers!

  6. I just got a bottle of 13yr KCSB at Randall’s in St. Louis, MO for $40. Standard label shows 9yrs but special emblem shows the 13yr aging. I find the standard SB offering was more burn than pleasant but I couldn’t pass on a 13yr bourbon for $40! This one is robust with oak, caramel, brown sugar, and a bit of molasses. Surprisingly sweet given the age but an interesting pour. Not love at first sip and, so far, not up there with Booker’s, but curious to see how it grows on me. Going to let it breathe and see what happens.

  7. I just purchased the last bottle of knob creek single barrel at my local grocery store it was 38.99. I have seen these on the shelf for a long time an never gave it a chance but I am sure glad I did. I like it just as well as makers mark cask strength and better than old Weller antique 107.i agree with josh about the single barrel inconsistencies as I have got a bottle of blantons single barrel that is extremely disappointing.

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