I’m an outspoken advocate for big, beefy bourbons. Sure, I can appreciate the more reserved pleasures of a bourbon like Four Roses Small Batch, but I find myself tending towards the muscular, loud flavours of Elijah Craig. Needless to say, I was excited to finally review the notoriously robust Knob Creek 9 Year, which sits stoutly at %50 ABV. Thankfully, I encountered a drink that didn’t rest on its stature, but also brought a level of refinement I wasn’t expecting.

Knob Creek prides itself on making “old fashioned” bourbon reminiscent of pre-prohibition era whiskey. In their marketing material, they accuse many bourbons of being overly soft and under aged, something Knob Creek staunchly refused to do. Whether or not this is merely  bluster is impossible to determine for sure, but one dram of this unique whiskey was just about enough to convince me.

Knob Creek 9 Tasting Notes

Knob Creek 9 certainly is dark and handsome. Due to its exceptionally charred wood, and longer aging than many small batches, it takes on a deep brown-amber. Dipping your nose into a glass of Knob Creek 9 is bound to clear your sinuses. It’s got big alcohol fumes at first, but once they subside it settles into rich maple, charred wood and lightly burned toffee. I did have to take my nose out several times as I was growing light headed (100 proof is nothing to sneeze at.)

While the nose is good, the taste is phenomenal. Surprisingly, it’s actually quite salty, but with a good grainy undertone. It reminds me of whole-grain toast which someone has drizzled salted caramel on. Knob Creek 9 has a viscous and heavy body, that sits on the tongue for a long time, transmitting the above mentioned salted caramel, lots of oak, some rye spice, and a not-unpleasant bitterness (sort of like high cocoa dark chocolate.) The point is, this weight-lifter knows how to waltz.

Knob Creek 9


Final Verdict

As I said, I like high-octane bourbons. Hit me hard, and hit me fast, for whatever reason I'm a sucker for them. But when they can also manage a well-balanced complexity, like Knob Creek 9, I like them all the better. It's not nearly as cheap as some other bourbons of its ilk, but if you've got the coin this is one whiskey I can definitely recommend sipping slow.