Why It’s Time to Warm Up to Knob Creek Bourbon

Knob Creek & Sharp

You know the story: it’s been a long winter working from home, baking bread, poring over politics. It’s been the same drill for everyone. And now that the holidays are over, what’s next to help us get to spring in one piece? Bourbon. Knob Creek Bourbon, from Jim Beam, to be precise.

Mexico has tequila, France has cognac, and the USA has Bourbon. Bourbon is American history. When European settlers arrived in the early 1700s, they brought their whiskey-making sensibilities with them, which they put to use with corn. Bourbon whiskey became the drink of the land. Cowboys, farmers, and everyone in between was knocking back the stuff until Prohibition in 1919. Distillers began reopening in 1933, at Prohibition’s end, and the Beam family was among them. By hand, a 70-year-old James Beam rebuilt the family’s Clermont, Kentucky distillery that still stands today. Previously known as Old Tub Whiskey, the brand’s name was changed to Colonel James. B. Beam Bourbon in 1943. And the rest is history.

Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam Master Distiller (left) and Fred Noe, seventh generation Beam Master Distiller (right). Photo courtesy of Knob Creek.

Knob Creek is one of four small-batch Bourbons under the Jim Beam umbrella. Today, its stills are run by father-and-son duo Fred and Freddie Noe, the seventh and eighth generation of the Beam family to do so. While distilling Bourbon is the result of generation’s worth of craft and know how, Bourbon didn’t always get the respect it deserved. “People weren’t [always] excited about Bourbon like they are today,” says Fred. “[It] was known as your grandfather’s drink, or a cowboy’s drink,” adds Freddie.

What changed? Well, Jim Beam’s portfolio of high-quality, small-batch Bourbons were key to sparking a renewed interest in Bourbon as a revered piece of Americana that’s no less refined than other spirits. And it was Knob Creek that showcased the importance of age and barrel when it comes to Bourbon. That deep amber colour? That touch of sweetness? That woody, full-bodied flavour? That’s all barrel. Distilled to exacting standards, just as it has been for generations, Knob Creek is smooth enough to sip and strong enough to mix. Just the way Bourbon should be.

Knob Creek 9 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Photo courtesy of Knob Creek.

Here are three ways to make your winter a little bit warmer with Knob Creek:

For sipping: Knob Creek 9 Year Old

After a brief absence, Knob Creek 9 Year Old  is making its triumphant return to bar carts Canada-wide. And it’s about time: it’s the first Knob Creek age-statement whiskey to be available in Canada in more than four years — and with a taller bottle to boot. While Knob Creek 9 Year Old is still the same drink you know and love (and stellar bang-for-your-buck at around $50 a bottle), picking up a bottle now comes with a few improvements: a stamped wax seal, glass embossments, and a 100-proof label, that highlights its pre-Prohibition origins. How to celebrate? Shake up a Perfect Manhattan. Here’s how:

  • 2 parts Knob Creek 9 Year Old
  • 1/2 part sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 part dry vermouth
  • 1 dash Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters
  • 1 Maraschino cherry
  • Combine the Bourbon, vermouth and bitters in a mixing glass.
  • Swirl with ice to chill.
  • Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
The Classic Manhattan. Photo courtesy of Knob Creek.

For savouring: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

This time it’s just you and the Bourbon. Thanks to its years spent aging in Knob Creek’s most exceptional barrels, the 120-proof Single Barrel Reserve has the deepest amber colour and the richest, vanilla, caramel and oak flavours. Serve neat or with one or two ice cubes.

For stirring: Knob Creek Rye

Knob Creek Rye is the automatic choice for stirring. This fine dram (an award winner, to boot, having netted the 2016 International Wine and Spirits Competition Best Rye Worldwide Whiskey) is a big hitter with a 100 proof label. It’s bold and spicy thanks to the rye, while underlined by hints of vanilla and oak.

For however you take it: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon Whiskey

This copper-coloured Bourbon is the perfect year-round tipple for sipping, stirring, savouring or however you take it. Blended with natural smoked maple flavours, Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon Whiskey hums with a smoky sweetness for full-bodied flavour. Whispers of vanilla and caramel compliment the maple notes for a smooth and slightly sweet finish.

Knob Creek 9 Year Old, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, Knob Creek Rye, and Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon Whiskey are all now available in Canada. knobcreek.com.