Knob Creek 2001

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2001 Limited Edition Batch 1, #12,302

50% ABV
What the Distillery Says:
Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon commemorates a significant year for Knob Creek, as late in 2001, the tradition and responsibility of stewarding Knob Creek Bourbon was passed from Booker to Fred — from father to son. This release, made from barrels that Booker laid down in 2001, was finished by Fred Noe in honor of all he learned from his father and stays true to the pre-prohibition standards that Booker sought to restore when he introduced Knob Creek Bourbon. Bottled at 100 proof and aged for 14 years, longer than any other Knob Creek release to date, this bourbon has an even bigger, fuller flavor than what Knob Creek fans have come to love. It will be released in three limited batches, each accentuating distinct notes of the 14-year-old liquid, for a suggested price of $129.99 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaged in a commemorative wooden case, Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon was selected with the following characteristics:
Age: More than 14 years
Proof: 100
Color: Deep golden amber
Aroma: Robust oak and char notes balanced by sweet vanillas and caramels with a hint of warm brown spice
Taste: Complex oak and char notes with subtle vanilla and warm spice
Batch One: Higher in sweet notes, vanilla and caramel; very smooth
Batch Two: Higher in wood and oak notes; more tannic in nature
Batch Three: Mid-way between Batch 1 and Batch 2, slightly favoring notes of wood
Finish: Smooth and warm sweetness

What Richard Says:
Nose: Woody in a very tannic way. Burnt vanilla sugar comes to mind.
Palate: Barrel char comes out first. This is a little hotter than other Knob Creeks I’ve had. The vanilla and caramel sweetness moves forward with notes of cinnamon and allspice berries but there is a strong peppery back to the palate.
Finish: Hot oak and deep peppery spice. Very dry.
Comments: It seems like these days that just about every bourbon producer finds a way to piss me off. Well Jim Beam…here you go. A 14 year old Knob Creek for $130? What!?! You can regularly find Knob Creek Single Barrel store selections in that age range that taste just as good if not better at a higher ABV. And then you have the audacity to call it a “limited edition”? I’m not sure what your idea of limited is but it greatly differs from mine. My sample was from bottle 12,302 of BATCH 1! And there are THREE BATCHES!! In no realm of reality is 35,000+ bottles of anything a “limited edition”. It’s only limited by the space time continuum.

Is this a bad whiskey? No, not at all. It’s a fine bourbon that’s maybe seen a few too many years in the wood. On flavor components alone I would say this bourbon Stands Out among others but at $130 I would pass on this if I was you. You could buy an equally good, or better Knob Creek Single Barrel and pocket the other $80.
Rating: Stands Out

Old Rip Van Winkle 15 Year

Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 15 Years
No. L7789

53.5% ABV
$43 originally (HIGHLY collectible now)
What the Bottler Says:
15 Year, 107 Proof A younger version of our famous 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle’ Family Reserve, this bourbon was crafted according to our exclusive family wheated recipe. The smooth, oak flavor blends well with the barrel proof. Selected from barrels in the heart of our Kentucky warehouse, it has remained untouched for 15 years and unhurried by time.

What Richard Says:
Nose: As amazing of a bourbon as this is it is fickle on the nose. The nose is surprisingly delicate and the 107 proof can be overpowering. With a fair bit of air you get more notes of burnt caramel, vanilla cream filling for Boston Cream Pie, and polished leather.
Palate: Phenomenal! Dried peaches, cinnamon red hots, vanilla extract, dark cocoa powder, and aged tobacco.
Finish: A tad hot on the end.
Comments: Yes, I know. “Why are you reviewing whiskeys that are basically unobtainium, jackass?” Well, it’s not often you come across lauded whiskey like this. The last time I had a bottle was so long ago that I’m not sure I was even sufficiently experienced to fully appreciate it, which was shortly before they switched to the newer tall bottle and donned it with the “Pappy” moniker. So how does this old Stitzel-Weller juice stack up? It’s really damn good. Really, really good. Is it the best bourbon I’ve ever had? No but that’s a preference thing more than a comment on the passion for this whiskey. The whiskey is surprisingly delicate against the proof but exceptionally flavorful. A splash of water helps it open up a bit. In a heavier bourbon like a George Stagg or Four Roses the alcohol drinks much easier. In this bourbon it is a bit of a hindrance. If you are fortunate enough to come across this don’t be afraid of the water.
Rating: Must Buy (at sane prices)

Blade and Bow 22 Year

Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 22 Years
46% ABV
What the Bottler Says:
The award-winning Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a limited-release whiskey inspired by the passion and craftsmanship of the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery.

Inclusive of whiskies distilled at both the distillery historically located at 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville, Ky. and the distillery historically located at 1001 Wilkinson Blvd. in Frankfort, Ky., this limited release offering was most recently aged and bottled at Stitzel-Weller.

Smooth and smoky, this limited-release bourbon’s taste is accented with notes of torched sugar and apples baked in honey and spices. Its aroma is one of toasted oak mixed with vanilla bean, fig and just a touch of caramel.

Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was named the “Best Straight Bourbon” and received the DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Collect the five distinct keys – some rarer than others – that adorn every bottle.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Oaky – dominant sour wood, bit astringent, burnt toast, coffee grounds, cigar paper, subtle vanilla & cocoa.
Palate: Thin mouthfeel, heavy wood with a sharp bite of pepper spice, burnt caramel, crème brulee.
Finish: Surprisingly short and drying.
Comments: I’m not a fan of “oak bombs”, and there is far too much oak in this for my taste. If you like a lot of oak, this might be more in your wheelhouse – although setting the oak aside, I didn’t find anything exciting. Typically with age the mouthfeel and finish stand out – and for me both of these were uninspiring. As there isn’t a lot of 22 yr old bourbon on the market, I can’t say the price is out of line – but not something I’m searching out.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says:
Nose: An old men’s study – polished oak, old leather, aged tobacco, as well as…Boston Cream pie.
Palate: I agree with Gary that the mouthfeel is a little thin but it tastes very nice with notes of vanilla cream, dark chocolate, caramel, black pepper, and very woody.
Finish: Drying and very woody. Heavy oak and light pepper.
Comments: I like a good woody old bourbon that also provides layers of flavor. I really enjoyed this bourbon. It’s a bit pricey, mostly on the “Stitzel-Weller” name. That is just the warehouse though, not the bourbon. This is a blend of Buffalo Trace and Bernheim distillate. Both of which you can try in separate older Orphan Barrel bottlings. Even still, there is enjoyable substance here too. If you are a fan of older, oak forward bourbons then give this one a try. If you are a fan of a more youthful and vibrant bourbon then this may not be for you.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Diageo and their PR firm for sending us a sample for review.

I.W. Harper 15 Year

I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 15 Years
43% ABV
What the Bottler Says:
Sweeter up front with grain and corn immediately apparent, I.W. HARPER 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey then moves into notes of oak, raisin, caramel, spice, and vanilla. The finish leaves a long and lasting mouthfeel perfect for enjoying on the rocks, or neat to truly appreciate the full flavor profile.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Sweet/toasted caramel, subtle wood (a tad sour), corn bread (but not “young whiskey” corn), hint of cinnamon and anise
Palate: Rich mouthfeel, smooth at first then the pepper spice kicks in; nice balance between wood and sweetness (cocoa and orange marmalade).
Finish: Short to moderate.
Comments: I was very much looking forward to this release, and when I first tried it – I was disappointed. Spending more time with Rich’s sample – I’m not “as disappointed”, but am still not impressed enough to exchange my dough for a bottle. This is a perfectly decent bourbon, but not special in any particular way. And for the price, I’m expecting special.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says:
Nose: There is a nice mature bourbon nose that leads with caramel, toasted oak, corn pudding, and licorice. From the nose along I would say Heaven Hill distillate but who knows. Diageo isn’t telling.
Palate: This is a definite step up from the incredibly bland regular I.W. Harper. Rich wood flavors with a bit of spice and sweetness but generally a bit too mellow. For those who seek “easy drinking” bourbon.
Finish: Dry and woody.
Comments: First impressions? The bottle reminds me of the Ralph Lauren Safari cologne that I used to wear in high school. As for the actual liquid, the 43% ABV helps but it’s still not all I’m looking for in a $75 bottle of bourbon. It reminds me quite a bit of some of the older Orphan Barrel releases. Since they are both Diageo sourced stock that is probably more than a coincidence. I would recommend this to those who are looking for a “special” bottle for the Jack Daniels drinker in their life.
Rating: Average

We would like to thank Diageo and their PR firm for sending us a sample to review.

The Hilhaven Lodge

The Hilhaven Lodge – A Distinctive Blend of Straight American Whiskeys
40& ABV
What the Bottler Says:
Introducing The Hilhaven Lodge™, a celebration of American Whiskey craftsmanship as aged Bourbon, Rye and Tennessee Whiskeys from three distinct decades combine for a rich and flavorful spirit—the spirit of Hilhaven Lodge.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Bright rye spice with dill and crushed mint, young with candied orange zest.
Palate: Sweet citrus, vanilla, and honey; spice is rather subdued, mellow all around.
Finish: Moderate, with the spice barely peaking up at the end
Comments: A hint of that “Tennessee whiskey” mellowness is on the nose and palate. They don’t list the ratio, or which whiskey came from which decade (others have reported that the rye was the oldest component, the TN whiskey in the middle, and the bourbon the youngest). The nose to me screams rye, but the palate doesn’t deliver. I really wish this could have been bottled at a higher proof. I was rather excited by the nose, and felt quite let down when it touched my lips. I suspect this might have been amazing at 100 proof, but alas, one can only wonder. While not a big financial gamble, I can’t recommend unless you’re a fan of really smooth whiskey.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says:
Nose: Clarified butter, fresh cut grass, and vanilla extract.
Palate: Sweet orange creams and a light spiciness. I would swear this saw some of the Lincoln County Process.
Finish: Dry and uninspiring with a bit of a hot spicy backing.
Comments: Not bad but not great. There are plenty of $30 bottles of whiskey out there that you might like more. I don’t think the blending gimmick is enough to justify a $40 to $50 price tag. It’s a little too smooth on taste and hot in the mouth…which is kind of odd. Given that this is Diageo, the rye is most likely MGP and the Tennessee Whiskey is probably Dickel. As for the bourbon, who knows.
Rating: Average

We would like to thank Diageo for sending us a sample to review.