The Jim Beam Small Batch Collection contains some heavy hitters. But Knob Creek is probably the most ubiquitous and popular. Originally as a 100 proof nine year old bourbon for around $30, it was in a lot of bars and homes. For supply reasons, it has dropped it’s age statement. But Beam does put out a nine year old 120 proof single barrel version, and, allows stores to pick custom barrels. These custom barrels are amazing and display great variances but they are all good.
My Knob Creek 25th Anniversary bottle was 122.9 proof at 13 years old. According to Binny’s these bottles range from ten to fourteen years old. They may be cutting it to proof but not by much. Given it’s age, it will have a little more oak and refinement than Booker’s which is typically aged six to eight years, which is not a bad thing given the price and availability differentials.
For a little history behind this bourbon, Elmer T. Lee of the Stagg/Buffalo Trace distillery began the movement to put out top shelf bourbon with Blanton’s Single Barrel. Booker Noe, master distiller at Beam, wanted in on that action and created the Small Batch Collection, particularly his name sake bourbon, Booker’s. He eschewed single barrel saying his small batch products were superior. But Fred Noe, his son, was largely responsible for the development of Knob Creek, and, after his Dad’s passing, Knob Creek Single Barrel. This is Freddie Noe’s bourbon
A buddy of mine was at a Binny’s in Illinois and picked me up two different store pick bottles.
Barrel 6266 is just a wonderful bourbon that hits all the traditional bourbon notes with more oak that a lot of Booker’s releases. Top drawer bourbon that is so nicely done. I really would not be able to tell the difference between this and the 25th Anniversary in a blind tasting. Truly great bourbon and for a little over $40 you can’t beat it. Slightly over ten years old and cut by a mere 2% water, and good on Binny’s for disclosing all that.
Barrel 6270- this has this remarkable cherry note to it. Real maraschino liquor soaked dark cherries with dark chocolate and oak. Just stupid good. Aged for thirteen and a half years and they added like a cup of water to the whole barrel to proof it down. A mere casual spill in the grand scheme of things.
So, I will put it this way. In this price segment, I think Stagg Jr. from Buffalo Trace at $45 and real cask strength is the best value in bourbon. My buddy picked up one of those for me at Binny’s as well since my local hasn’t even gotten the most recent release yet and has been out of stock for months. A Binny’s employee had to get the Stagg Jr. from a safe in the back, and it was one per customer. Knob Creek Single Barrel they had six different barrels with tasting notes at Binny’s, and you can get the regular version at Kroger’s in Alexandria any time you want. There is something to really be said for availability.