Author: Bobby

Hello. My name's Bobby, and I'm no whiskey expert. I'm here to share my thoughts as a novice whiskey enthusiast. So, when I try new whiskies (mostly bourbons), I'll tell you about them here.

Review: Knob Creek 15-year

I remember when Knob Creek removed its age statement a few years back. It really seemed like forever ago. Then again, anything pre-COVID-19 feels like forever ago. The distillery, Jim Beam, just didn’t have enough aged stocks in its warehouses to keep up with demand. And they weren’t alone. Other brands either became extremely allocated or dropped age statements to maintain their supply. The bourbon boom certainly was, and is, in fully swing.

Fast forward to 2020, and Knob Creek not only announces the return of the 9-year age statement, but it also added a 12-year-old bourbon to its core lineup permanently. By all accounts, Knob Creek is doubling down on age statements.

And they’re not done.

Enter Knob Creek 15-year-old, which recently started hitting shelves. The limited edition bourbon comes in at 100 proof like other small batch expressions of Knob Creek. Enter controversy. There’s always controversy. You kind of have to expect it these days. Online, a number of KC fans are upset this 15-year-old expression isn’t bottled at a higher proof. Their reasoning – Knob Creek Single Barrel is bottled at 120 proof. In some cases, Knob Creek store picks are bottled at 15 years and available for less than the $100 asking price of this limited edition.

Here’s my take – Knob Creek bourbon is traditionally 100 proof and it wouldn’t make sense to change that for its limited edition releases. I use the same reasoning for Basil Hayden limited edition releases. “Oh, but it’s only 80 proof.” Yes, but so is the standard Basil Hayden. These small batch limited edition expressions are extensions of the flavor profile of the standard release. Part of that includes the traditional proof of the brand. In the case of Knob Creek, that’s 100 proof. Sure, the 25th Anniversary edition of Knob Creek was bottled at cask strength, but remember that was a single barrel and not a batched whiskey.

Moving on to the important bit – how does it taste?

Damn good. You almost expect this to be an oak bomb, but it’s not. The nose brings hints of dark caramel and molasses, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla bean in addition to sweet oak. A little airtime reveals a touch of dried fruit. The palate aligns very closely to the nose with hints of darkened, almost burnt caramel, followed by charred marshmallow, some fruit and baking spice, and earthiness – think tobacco. All this layers on top of a light bed of toasted oak. The medium finish is warming, with charred red fruit, toffee, and sweet oak.

This 15-year-old bourbon is a damn fine example of an older Knob Creek. All the aromas and flavors presented here are luscious, complementary, and more importantly delicious. A couple of marks come off for the thin mouthfeel when compared to the standard 9-year-old Knob Creek. My guess is this is probably due to any filtering used to remove some of that oak flavor. Nonetheless, this is a very tasty, enjoyable bourbon, and an easy recommendation.

Thanks to Knob Creek for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell Rye Whiskey Batch 003

Here’s a refreshing thought – the folks at Barrell Craft Spirits don’t seem to care where they source their whiskeys so long as they find the aromas, flavors, and mouth-feel interesting. Yes, that last bit is subjective, but it plays an important part in blending a compelling whiskey. This is something in which they excel.

Case in point, Batch 003 of their rye whiskey. It includes straight rye whiskies from Tennessee, Indiana, Poland, and Canada. A world whiskey indeed. The 4-year-old rye is bottled at a cask strength of 116.7 proof, or 58.35% ABV.

The whiskey itself is pretty tasty. There’s lots of honey, rye spice, and ripe fruit on the nose, with a sprinkling of cardamon and allspice. Some of the barrels used here are 13-year-old Canadian rye, which contributes a bit of grassiness on the palate. It’s balanced by creamy caramel , dried red fruit, and almonds. Cinnamon stick and a light touch of oak show up on the back palate. The medium-length finish is rather clean and crisp, with a lingering touch of honey and mint.

What’s great about this rye is it’s lack of overt ‘heaviness’. Generally, I find a lot of rye whiskeys to be bold and spicy. Something that is more in line with winter and not summer. With Barrell Rye batch 003, the flavors tend to be carried in a lighter way. Flavors are a bit more spread out, allowing the different rye whiskies used in this blend to shine. It’s full of flavor, but airy enough to be enjoyed outdoors in 100 degree summer heat. I think I just found my rye whiskey for the season.

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for the production sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Larceny Barrel Proof (Batch B520)

On the heels of the initial batch released at the beginning of the year, the second batch of Heaven Hill’s Larceny Barrel Proof is now available. The high proof wheated bourbon received positive praise upon its release. This batch is uncut and comes in at 122.2 proof, which is ever so slightly lower than the previous one’s 123.2 proof.

Wheated bourbons utilize wheat as their secondary grain as opposed to the typical use of rye. They’re still bourbon, which means at least 51% of the mash bill is corn. These whiskies tend to be a little sweeter and softer in character than their spicier rye brethren.

The nose carries hints of green apple, caramel, buttered grits, and some baking spice. Caramel-drizzled coffee cake kicks things off. A creamy vanilla soon develops and adds to the rich mouthfeel. The backend features hints of caramel corn and sandalwood. The finish is long, sweet, and ever so slightly bitter.

Larceny Barrel Proof Batch 0520 maintains the general flavor profile set by the first release. Like Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, this whiskey shows me that Heaven Hill might have a new sweet spot with barrel proof releases. This one’s got all the punch of a high proof whiskey but also manages to be very drinkable at said proof.

This release will certainly appeal to Larceny fans who might want just a bit more from their whiskey. Larceny Barrel Proof isn’t quite the bruiser in the flavor department of say, George Stagg or the Van Winkle lineup, but it stands on its own AND is much easier to find than the aforementioned products. Recommended!

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.