Last month, news broke that Knob Creek Bourbon, which had lost its age statement a few years back, would be regaining its nine year old age statement “sometime early next year.” In honor of this very welcome news, I've decided to pull out my last bottle of nine-year-old Knob Creek to compare to with the current release.
So, first things first, why do I have a bottle of Knob Creek with an age statement just hanging around? Honestly, just for this. If I see a significant change to any particular bourbon, I try to pick up a bottle so that a few years down the line, we can all see what, if anything has changed in the flavor. I also do this for the first batch of things that might be interesting down the line. This is the reason why there is a bottle of the first batch of Willett-distilled Old Bardstown Bonded, the first release of Maker's Cask Strength, one of the last bottles of Elijah Craig before they removed the age statement, and others on the top shelf of my whiskey closet. I figure I'll give each of them a few years and go back to see if anything has changed.
Ordinarily, I would still be sitting on this bottle of Knob Creek as I've had it less than three years (according to the dates for the contest on the neck tag that I apparently never took off). But since the reason I was keeping it is going away soon, why not pull it out. Maybe we'll see a glimpse of what is to come and what we've been missing.
I did the comparison blind, hopefully, I don’t catch too much flack if I end up liking the non-age stated one better.
Knob Creek NAS (2019) vs Knob Creek Nine-Year-Old (2016)
Purchase Info: $24.99 at Viking Liquor Barrel, Prior Lake, MN for the non-age stated one. After almost three years, I have no clue for the nine-year-old.
Details: Both are 50% ABV.
Nose: Dusty oak, caramel, ripe fruit, nutmeg, hints of mint
Mouth: Caramel, mint, cinnamon
Finish: Dry and warm, medium length. Lingering oak and caramel
Nose: Mint, bubblegum, nutmeg, oak
Mouth: Spicy, dry, cinnamon, vanilla, oak
Finish: Warm and spicy with lingering chocolate and dried grains
Thoughts: These are both very similar. I guess that is a testament to the blending skills of Jim Beam. Bourbon A is softer in the mouth while B is drier and spicier. That said the underlying flavors are close enough that I don't know if I'd notice too much of a difference if someone blindly handed me a glass of one versus the other. Bourbon A has more flavor while it is in the mouth, while B is spicier and the flavor really kicks in at the finish. Personally, I'd choose A over B, but it's pretty close.
Reveal: Whiskey A is the 2016 nine-year-old. Whiskey B is the 2019 NAS. I guess I dodged a bullet on that one. But seriously, I found this super interesting. There were differences, but they were not as big as I would have assumed. They aren't as big as the differences between Elijah Craig's 12-year-old versus their current NAS bottling.
I can't wait to compare both of these Knob Creek bottles to my first bottle of 2020's new nine-year-old.
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