In 1992, Jim Beam released Knob Creek, a 9-year age statement bourbon as part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon Collection. Named after a creek that ran through Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home, Knob Creek (sometimes referred to as just “KC” in the bourbon community) joins Basil Hayden’s Booker’s and Baker’s in the Small Batch Collection. Tin 2016, Beam announced that due to a shortage of barrels, the standard release would no longer carry the age statement (since changed again in 2020 when Beam again made Knob Creek a 9-year age statement release).
In 2019, Beam released Knob Creek with a 12-year age statement as a limited release. This return to an age stated Knob Creek release 3 years after the standard release lost it’s age statement, combined with the fact that is was a double-digit age statement, created an immediate success. This success has led to Beam make the 12-year Knob Creek a standard release.
Knob Creek 12 Year
Distillery: Jim Beam
Age: 12 years
Mashbill: 77% Corn, 13% Rye, 10% Barley
Sample: Neat, in a Glencairn, breathing for 5 minutes
Appearance: Deep auburn with a great number of quick forming legs that funnel down quickly, but they leave a trail behind and a ring where the swirl reached the top of the glass.
Nose: Light ethanol on the initial nose, but it dissipates quickly after a few swirls. Molasses, oak, and vanilla wafer are the leaders here, but some subtle caramel and citrus notes appear when digging a bit deeper. Some earthiness comes in on the backend. Very inviting nose. 4 out of 5 bullets
Palate: Nice oily mouthfeel reveals big oak notes, but not over-oaked, which can sometimes happen when you get into some 12 year, and older, bourbons. The caramel found on the nose is a bit more pronounced and some rye spice comes in on the backend, perfectly layered on the sweet caramel notes. The flavors mesh into a deep, complex, palate that is a complete joy. 4.5 out of 5 bullets
Finish: The rye spice moves into more of a white pepper early on. A nice coating of brown sugar lays a foundation for some leather, tobacco, and some of the earthiness that was on the nose. The oak, not surprisingly given the spirit was aged for 12 years, is always there and lingers well after the other flavors have run their course. While the finish is solid, disappointingly, it is a bit short save for the oak. 3.5 out 5 bullets
Overall: Knob Creek 12 year is a bourbon lover’s bourbon. The traditional bourbon flavors you would expect are there and the oakiness, that is imparted after spending a dozen years in the barrel, while ever present, doesn’t overtake the pour. At around $60 retail, this is a buy all day long and beats out several other bottles that are older and more expensive. Had the finish had a bit more length, it would be a no brainer for any bourbon lover. 4 out of 5 bullets.