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Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Patrick "Pops" Garrett5 Comments

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon

The weather in St. Louis this past week has been pretty crappy. Lot’s of ice and snow. Based on what I’ve heard about Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, I decided it might just be the perfect bourbon to review for the site and to fend off the cold Winter winds.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is the single barrel version of Beam’s Knob Creek bourbon, one of four Bourbons that makeup Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. (Basil Hayden’s, Baker’s and Booker’s round out the Small Batch Collection.)

Here’s what the Knob Creek website has to say about their single barrel version:

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve encounters no detours or distractions. It’s just the big, pure flavor that Booker Noe set out to create over two decades ago.

Most bourbon is blended together from multiple barrels to create a consistent taste. However, each barrel of Single Barrel Reserve is bottled individually to become one-of-a-kind. Each batch we handpick will have slight variations in taste, color and aroma based on its final age, rack placement and other proprietary methods passed down for eight generations.

Best yet, it’s bottled at a 120 proof, so it’s an even bigger expression of our signature flavor. You’ll find more pronounced flavors and a smokier aroma. And although it packs a high proof, the finish is still smooth and complex.

I had the opportunity on last year’s Bourbon & Banter Pilgrimage to taste Knob Creek right out of the barrel while they were dumping it at the distillery.  It was absolutely amazing. I reached right out and put my hand in the stream of bourbon as it was poured out by our tour guide. In fact, the photo at the top of this post was taken right before I stuck my hand in the bourbon stream for a taste.

So how did it compare to what they’ve put in the bottle? Let’s jump right in and explore the findings of my Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve bourbon review.


Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve BourbonBourbon Name:
  Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

Proof: 120

Age: 9 years

Year:  2012

How I Drank It:  Neat, in my special bourbon glass (please don’t be jealous)

My Nose Noticed:*  Cinnamon | Maple | Fruit | Leather (hint of)

First Sip:  Mint | Clove | Black Pepper | Vanilla/Maple (hint of)

The Burn:**  Wow! This one is full of flavor and won’t disappoint your tastebuds. Each sip is a burst of flavor followed by a long finish with a nice deep throat/chest burn. In fact, the burn keeps coming back again, and again.  I love that!

Neat, Splash or Rocks:  This is a big bourbon at 120 proof but it’s not overpowering like so many other high proof bourbons. The flavors are so rich and deep that I suggest drinking it neat if you can. I added some water, but I found that it diluted the vanilla and maple notes too much. I think adding water to this one should be avoided at all costs.

Share With:  This is a bourbon that you drink when you’re hanging with good friends. It’s robust enough to handle even the most intense banter.  I’d also suggest taking it up to the cabin in the woods when you’re looking to get away from it all.

Worth The Price:  At roughly $40, Knob Cree Single Barrel Reserve is only about $10 more than regular Knob Creek. In my opinion, it’s probably one of the best $10 investments you can make. I also think it’s a great buy on it’s when you compare it with other bourbons in the $40 range.

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  If you’re a fan of robust bourbons that deliver an amazing burn, this is one for your home bar. It might not be an every night sipper, but it’s definitely one to have when friends come over or you’re trying to get over an especially hard day at the office.

*I like to let my bourbon sit in the glass for at least 5 minutes before I start to smell it or have a drink. I personally find that it’s better to let some of the alcohol waft off before diving in. If I’m drinking bourbon on the rocks I skip the waiting and dive in both feet first.
**Some of you refer to this as the “finish” but let’s be honest. Don’t we all just want to know if it burns good?

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve bourbon is a wonderfully rich and robust bourbon that should be on the shelf of any serious bourbon lover. Whether you pour yourself a glass to ward off Winter’s chill or to enjoy banter with your friends, you won’t be disappointed.





About the Author

Patrick "Pops" Garrett

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Patrick Garrett, "Pops" as he's known to his friends, is the founder of Bourbon & Banter, LLC and claims the title of Chief Drinking Officer (CDO). A long-time marketing professional and photographer, Pops hopes to use his professional experience and love of Bourbon to spread the Bourbon Gospel and help everyone realize the therapeutic power of having a good drink with friends. Read Patrick's full profile.


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    To each is own, but as a Knob Creek lover I think the single barrel reserve is horrid. Basically, it tastes just like every other crap bourbon out there except with a sharp cut that overpowers to the point of tasting like straight alcohol. I may as well be drinking All Clear. The thing that sets Knob Creek apart from all other bourbons is the fullness and suitably of flavors. In fact, it is my opinion that Knob Creek is not only the best bourbon, but the only bourbon that taste like bourbon was meant to taste. The single barrel reserve, however, is harsh and tasteless by lacking the burnt wood, caramel, and vanilla notes that make regular Knob Creek so enjoyable. I can’t believe I paid $12 more for a bottle of this swill, which I will be pouring down the kitchen drain. There goes $60. Should have stuck to my regular Knob Creek instead of believing all these bogus reviews about the single barrel reserve, which is night and day apart from regular Knob Creek and not in a good way.

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