Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 120

“Well, I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”― Abraham Lincoln


Every now and then I stumble across something I find fascinating. This morning as I was doing a little research on Knob Creek Distillery, it’s brand history and affiliates and I made a cool connection that makes me want to buy more of their product. I know, I know…buy more whiskey? Say it ain’t so!

I had been aware that Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky (near the town of Hodgenville) and he obviously went on to become the sixteenth President of the United States during the American Civil War of 1861-1865.  He is also by far my favorite president because of his leadership under extreme duress, great speech writing ability and place in history. The interesting bit I’m finding now is Lincoln’s ties to bourbon.

Did you know? Abraham Lincoln’s father worked for Waddie Boone (Boone Distillery) who himself had a rather famous family member…none other than the American pioneer, explorer, woodsman, and frontiersman, whose frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States….Daniel Boone. Thomas Lincoln was on the payroll at Boone, this is a fact (according to Bill Samuels who has or had the payroll ledger). By all accounts this “fact” is deamed to be a secondary source because the payroll ledger isn’t public record…yet. The Lincoln family also took whiskey with them when they moved to Indiana to use in the purchase of land and the bartering of goods, so who knows…maybe MGP of Indiana owes our 16th President a debt of gratitude also.

Lincoln did own a tavern attached to his families store, but being that he wasn’t a drinker he focused on the ongoing war between the North & South rather than involving himself in the personal habits of US citizens. It is even said that when people complained about General Grant’s drinking habits, Lincoln very famously told his cabinet staff to find out what Ulysses S. Grant was drinking and send a case of it to every other General in the Union army.


After nearly 150 years (and close to the end of the 20th century), Lincoln’s reference had returned to being more indirect. Time has a funny way to washing away some of the things we hold dear in life. Written descriptions of events will never be as powerful as the memory of experience and when those with the experience pass we slowly lose pieces of history that shouldn’t be forgotten. In order to prevent this from happening in the 1960s, Old Crow brand made use of the Lincoln story about Grant and claimed that the brand was Old Crow. Great story and if I’d seen that written on a bottle I would probably buy one for the hell of it. I mean I did buy a bottle of Lusty Claw because and only because the bottle was simply too cool to pass on. My friend and co-conspirator Mike Bonin calls this #bottleporn and it’s a very real thing. In the early 1990’s the Jim Beam Distillery developed “Knob Creek.” Knob Creek is the stream of water that runs next to Lincoln’s Boyhood Home in Kentucky. It really is all about the water. Now enough of the history lesson. Cheers!


Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is aged 9 years, 120 proof with no mash bill information available.

Color: Golden with a red hue, thin legs, fuck is this hot!

Nose: Neat, the aroma is pretty intense, new oak, general citrus, wet cardboard, and vanilla, with a punch of black pepper.

Palate: First Neat: I first the medium body and HIGH heat, although it’s softer than you’d assume from 120 proof brown liquor. Sweet and full bodied, with hints of sweet corn, sugar corn or poll corn (Did you know: The Iroquois Indians gave the first recorded sweet corn called ‘Papoon’ to European settlers in 1779). The finish has a stiff warm punch to it with a very distinct caramel and wood backbone. If you drink this neat the backend is dryer than a popcorn fart.

Finish: A more significant water addition (and I’d recommend drinking out of a Glencairn glass) really solidified the nose and I notice sweet fruits, caramel, and charred oak. The palate is still warm and somewhat caustic with a bit less of the sweet corn, and the finish was a bit brighter with a hint of sour citrus (lemon, lime & grapefruit).

NEW***Best Practices: With a few drops of water and by a few drops I mean two cap fulls max in a glencairn glass preferably or ultimately with ice like what’s pictured (or less if that’s your preference)…it opens up significantly. I didn’t have access to my preferred glassware on my vacation, but a rocks glass worked just fine in this case. The wood and orange notes dissipate and leave hints of Corn Chex, dried cherries, apricots, figs and raisins. Very Grand Marnier or Triple Sec(ish). Water makes it smoother, but also somewhat astringent with more wood noticeable.

#whiskeyjarblog #bourbonbrothers #whiskeyporn #forloveofthejuice #knobcreek

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