Review: Knob Creek 9

Full disclosure… the picture is not of a creek but a tiny nook of a nearby lake. And thankfully the only knob in sight was this Knob Creek 9 that I brought with me on my hike. Sadly enough I wasn’t able to travel to the actual Knob Creek, which can be found in Kentucky and supposedly streamed right through the backyard of Abraham Lincoln’s family farm. So I had to make due with the local lake.

Everything about this dram screams bourbon history. Even though the current brand has only been around since 1992, the Knob Creek label has been in use since 1898. And fittingly the Noe family revived it as an old pre-prohibition style of bourbon. Currently Knob Creek 9 is made under the supervision of Fred Noe, the son of Knob Creek founder Booker Noe (who in turn is the grandson of Jim Beam himself). So yes there’s plenty of history in the dram before me, and I can’t wait to find out what journey it will take me on!

Tasting Notes: Knob Creek 9 year old

ABV: 50% (100 proof)

Age: 9 years old

Distillery: Jim Beam distillery

Owned by: Beam Suntory

Category: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Awards: The World Whisky Masters Master (2014), International Whisky Competition 2nd place (2015)

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes\


It’s Thursday night and me and my fiancée both have the day off tomorrow, which makes tonight the first night of our weekend. A perfect time to kick back and relax with a nice dram. I poured the Knob Creek 9 neat into a glencairn, with some vinyl playing in the background, and I’m set to thoroughly enjoy this drop of whiskey.


This dram has a wonderful thick nose. Not the kind that fills the room as soon as you pour it, but the kind that welcomes you into the glass as soon as you approach it. Immediately there’s thick molasses with oak resin, caramel and vanilla fudge. Altogether it creates a very sweet and coherent nose, very much fit for the bourbon category but with a higher intensity than I’m used to from other “quintessential” bourbons. There’s some spice on the nose as well, which reminds me somewhat of cloves and nutmeg. Giving the thick syrupy sweetness of this nose some much needed balance. Water takes away some of the thickness from this dram and reveals some floral notes, which hint at a blossom tree.


The sweetness is immediately apparent on the palate as well. With dense dark molasses instantly coating your tongue. Behind the molasses there’s also a combination of black and maraschino cherries on the palate, that I absolutely adore. Another layer reveals itself as a peanut caramel note that reminds me most of a Reese’s Nutrageous bar. There’s a spicy note in here as well, that almost makes me feel like I’m drinking a rye. Altogether I can safely state that there’s plenty of complexity here. Albeit mostly in the sweeter categories. A few drops of water do change the palate quite a bit, but I remain undecided about whether it’s in a good way. It reveals some sugary mint qualities, reminiscent of what you’d find in an after eight chocolate. Which I usually don’t mind all that much, but it just seems out of place in this Knob Creek 9. Water makes the palate quite a bit thinner as well, but on the other hand it does turn up the spice, making nutmeg easier discernable on the palate. Which I do find very pleasant.


The finish has a medium length. Molasses and a little bit of oak resin linger on the palate as the time since your last sips starts to add up. There’s a little bit of cherry still in there, but this time around it’s more like a cherry cake filling (or topping) that comes to mind. Later on the molasses slowly starts to turn into more of a honey, with a little bit of a walnut like bitterness. The sweetness becomes a little less pronounced, which I actually find myself appreciating a lot. I wouldn’t have minded this finish to last a little longer though. While trying a lot of different cask strength whiskies lately, I’ve noticed that water can sometimes significantly lengthen the finish of a dram. Now, this is not a cask strength whisky, but at 50% it still has a more than decent ABV. And thus, I found myself hoping water would lengthen the finish of this dram as well. Sadly enough, it did not. If anything it just dulled the finish a little, without really adding anything to it.


It had been a while since my last bourbon, since my December month was filled with a predominantly scotch advent calendar. But I’m happy to have ventured back into the bourbon category with this excellent Knob Creek 9 year old. Excellent not because it’s the best bourbon you’ll ever taste, but excellent because of its amazing value. For roughly 40 euro it sits only a few bucks above some more entry level offerings over here in the Netherlands and yet it offers so much more. This is a full bodied, well-rounded bourbon. With complexity well beyond the more typical bourbon flavours. This is a sweet dram for sure though, so you do require a little bit of a sweet tooth to enjoy it in all its glory. But if you like bourbon, you won’t be disappointed with the value this dram brings to your glass.





Dramble on!

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