Knob Creek Limited Edition, 2001

Maker: Jim Beam, Clermont, Kentucky, USA20170428_091830

Age: 14 y/o (distilled 2001, bottled 2016)

Batch: 1

Proof: 100 (50% ABV)

Michigan State Minimum: $130

Appearance: Very dark, burnt caramel color. Slow, sticky necklace.

Nose: Classic grassy KC nose. Alcohol, cut grass, woodruff, allspice, dried orange rind.

Palate: Burn, cayenne, vanilla custard, orange, chewy oak.

Finish: Hot & herbal with big oak.

Parting words: Long time readers will know that I  never buy whiskey this expensive and that I whine about value even for bourbons as cheap as $20. So why did I buy this one? I don’t know. It was available for one, and I love Knob Creek for another. It had also been a couple months since I had purchased any spirits so I figured it was in the budget.

Let me start off by saying that Knob Creek 2001 is a good bourbon. It’s certainly the best Knob Creek I’ve every had. It has the big velvety tannins one would expect from a bourbon of this age. It’s firmly within the standard KC profile with pleasant spicy and herbal aromas and flavors. If this were a bottle of the old 9 y/o or of the single barrel KC, I would be very impressed. As a $130 limited edition, I’m underwhelmed. For that kind of cash, there needs to be more going on. More candy, more fruit, more of something. It certainly needs more proof. I’m not sure why this wasn’t released at barrel proof (to enable a broader release, maybe?) but one hundred proof isn’t good enough for a $130 limited edition when the same line has a single barrel at 120 proof at $50. If you have the room in your budget to blow $130 on a good bourbon that isn’t great, then you might like this. If you’re a normal human being and not a tater like me, then you might want to skip this. Reports are that batches 2 & 3 may be better, but this batch isn’t  close enough to a fair price for even a mild recommendation. Knob Creek Limited Edition, 2001 (batch 1) is not recommended.

Vintage Rye 23 y/o

Maker: Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Bardstown Kentucky, USAvintage 23

Distiller: ???

Age: 23 y/o

Proof: 94 (47% ABV)

Thanks to: Oscar for this sample

Appearance: Dark Auburn

Nose: Wood varnish, oak, peanut brittle, slightly musty, an elusive fruity note: sometimes purple Kool-Aid and sometimes orange Tang.

On the palate: Soft mouth feel. Toffee, butterscotch, oak, alcohol, clove.

Finish: Very dry, old oak, some alcohol and a touch of sweetness.

Parting words: I make no secret of my dislike of old American whiskeys. When even my beloved Four Roses distillery came out with a 17 year old bourbon a couple years ago I was not impressed. The Elijah Craig 18 y/o bourbons I have tasted and enjoyed are few and far between. KBD’s Vintage series of bourbons and ryes are all old whiskeys but have the advantage of being relatively affordable. The downside is that, if KBD got a hold of it, there’s a good chance the distillers didn’t think it was good enough to release under one of their own labels or even blend it into something else. Such is the risk of buying old whiskey from non-distiller producers.

So when Oscar gave me the sample I was skeptical. My skepticism proved to be largely unwarranted. This rye is very drinkable. I’ve had 20 y/o bourbons (from distillery-owned labels) that were not nearly as easy to drink as this. That said, Vintage 23 falls into the curiosity or vatting whiskey category for me. It’s something I might buy one bottle for to use for a tasting or to bring out when whiskey friends are over. Too woody and old to be a classic but interesting enough to warrant some interest. Vintage Rye 23 y/o is recommended.