Whiskey Review: Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Fifteen years ago, Jim Beam master distiller Booker Noe tasked his son, Fred Noe, with promoting and selling Knob Creek, one of Jim Beam’s small-batch brands. Three years later, the elder Noe passed away, leaving the bourbon powerhouse in his son’s hands.

One day, Noe came across a batch of Knob Creek barrels dated 2001—the same year he’d been assigned what he now calls his first major project for the company—and realized they would’ve been among the last put up by his late father. In tribute, the distiller held those barrels back for a special release. It’s that bourbon that’s just been released under the label Knob Creek 2001.

Knob Creek 2001

Knob Creek 2001 (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Introduced in 1992, Knob Creek was at the forefront of the small-batch spirits movement. Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon, the brand’s standard offering, is aged nine years. Knob Creek 2001, at 14 years old, is the brand’s longest-aged release yet.

The release is made up of three batches, each containing about 12,000 bottles, and each bottle is labeled with its batch number. A press release from the distillery explains that batch 1 is sweeter and softer, batch 2 is woodier and more tannic, and batch 3 is somewhere in the middle. All three batches are said to have “complex oak and char notes with subtle vanilla and warm spice.” It’s bottled at 100 proof.

I received a sample from batch 1.

Tasting Notes: Knob Creek 2001

Color: Deep copper

Nose: Sweet flavors like vanilla, honey, and caramel predominate up front. The sweetness is far from overbearing, however, and I also get some heady stone fruit—ripe peach and plum—especially after a few minutes in the glass. There is a definite, if subtle, oakiness underlying everything.

Palate: Vanilla and honey also predominate on the palate, but again, they’re well-balanced by more ripe fruit and some warm baking spice. Toasted oak is a little more noticeable on the palate, along with a just a hint of something savory and salty, almost like parmesan cheese. The texture is smooth but mouth-coating, and wood lingers on the long finish.

Conclusion:

To put it bluntly, this is the kind of bourbon that makes you not want to drink other bourbon. The bright caramel and vanilla you expect are rounded out expertly with darker notes, some of them unexpected in the best way. I’d be curious to give batch 2 a try, as I find this sample had just enough oak to balance the sweetness. In any case, this is a very nice whiskey, one well worth a try if you can get your hands on it.

FINAL SCORE: 95/100 [SHOP FOR A BOTTLE OF KNOB CREEK 2001]


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