Whiskey Review: Knob Creek Bourbon Aged 18 Years

, | January 25, 2023

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

I think it’s safe to say for most people the days of following in their parents’ footsteps are over. Not so in the Noe family, descendants of the Beam line with a long history of distilling. That isn’t to say they haven’t each forged their own path in the industry. Today I look at the history of the James B. Beam Distilling Company and the limited edition Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 18 Years.

Knob Creek was started as a premium small batch bourbon brand by then Master Distiller Frederick “Booker” Noe II. Knob Creek is distilled at James B. Beam Distilling Company. Beam Distilling is owned by Beam Suntory, an American based subsidiary of the Osaka, Japan based company Suntory. Beam Suntory owns many other brands, including whiskeys from at least six countries and many other types of spirits beyond that. 

Knob Creek was introduced to the Beam Distilling lineup in 1992, and celebrated 30 years in 2022 with the release of Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 18 Years. While labeled as a limited edition release, they do give it a batch number of KC001, suggesting we may see more releases of 18 year old bourbon from them in the future. 

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The history of the Jim Beam family is a history of distilling, dating back to the 1780’s when Jacob Beam moved to Kentucky with his wooden still. The next two generations contributed to the growth of the business until prohibition hit. The business was built back up by James B. Beam (Jim Beam) after prohibition, where he recreated the yeast strains that are still used today.

Booker Noe II grew the brand with the addition of multiple small batch whiskeys, and with the help of Fredrick “Fred” Booker Noe III brought the brands to the world. Booker Noe III is the current master distiller, with Fredrick “Freddie” Booker Noe IV working as a distiller as well.

While I am not the biggest fan of Jim Beam’s standard release bourbon, I can’t argue their family knows how to distill. Many amazing products come from their distillery. So is this new limited edition a winner? I find it to be a worthwhile addition to the Knob Creek line up, though it is yet to be seen if it will become a standard or not. 

Knob Creek Bourbon Aged 18 Years review

Knob Creek Bourbon Aged 18 Years (image via Ian Arnold/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Knob Creek Bourbon Aged 18 Years

Vital Stats: 50% ABV. Release number KC001. Suggest retail price of $169.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: This has a lovely copper hue to it. It leaves a nice thin coat on the glass that forms long thin legs.

Nose: Heavy spice on the nose, black pepper and cinnamon. Hints of vanilla and caramel with a nondescript fruity quality, kind of like fruit cake. Can certainly smell the alcohol content of this as well.

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Palate: This is pretty hot up front and I don’t get much of any flavor at first. It then transitions to a leather and pepper taste with a vanilla extract note behind it. Finish has a kind of menthol quality to it, a bit of mint and a cooling tingle. This fades leaving me with the taste of damp oak and cinnamon. A bit of water opens this up to a lot of what I got on the nose. Much more spice and dried fruit comes through to join the leather and pepper from before. The finish stays pretty much the same, just a bit more mellow.

Whiskey Review: Knob Creek Bourbon Aged 18 Years
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Summary

This is not a bourbon for everyone, but there are a few people I can think of that would love this. Certainly a bolder, more austere version of Knob Creek, not quite as sweet of a mid palate as their standard small batch. I don’t know that I would even suggest this for a person who really enjoys Knob Creek Small Batch, but maybe for someone that likes the finish of the small batch.

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