Have you tried our Binny’s Hand PickedKnob Creek Single Barrel bottlings? We’ve gotten requests, so here’san explanation of our choices and my personal tasting notes.
Before we get into all the details,know that two unexpected things happened. First, the distributorbotched the delivery, only bringing us three of our four barrels,leaving us with 75% of what we ordered, and no control over whichbarrels wound up where. The fourth (actually Binny’s Barrel #1) is onits way. Second, the stock that did arrive sold faster than we couldhave dreamed. The next time we do a Hand Picked Knob Creek SingleBarrel Reserve (we hope to soon) we’ll be looking for ten or sobarrels instead of the scant four we picked this time. This purchaseis already running low, so snatch them up when you see them.
The Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve isa close sibling to the standard Small Batch Bottling. The two arefrom the same mashbill and see the same time in barrel. The SingleBarrel Reserve is chosen from the best barrels for intensity andconsistency, while the rest of the barrels are vatted to the SmallBatch profile. The biggest difference in the Single Barrel is themuch higher bottling proof: Small Batch is 100 proof, while theSingle Barrel Reserve is labeled at 120, with our selections clockingin at a punchy 128-132 proof.
Decode the Label
You’ll find one of these labels on theside of each of our bottlings.
Confusing? Let’s break it down:
BARREL # is what we (Binny’s)use to quickly identify each. (Note to the tasting panel: next time,let’s come up with hilarious names.)
LOT ID is distilling date, andit breaks down like this:
- The first two digits are the year.
- The letter is the month, in order (skipping I)
- The last two digits are the day.
So 02A16 refers to the lot distilled on 2002, January 16.
WAREHOUSE is the warehouse at Beam. Knob Creek only comes from G, H and P.
FLOOR is (what else?) the floor. Most Beam warehouses have eight floors. Thebest comes from middle floors, where temperature is stable. Higherfloors get extremely hot.
RICK/TIER further breaks down location. You’ll notice that our barrels #3 and #4 camefrom the same tier, neighbors for over nine years.
BOTTLED is the bottling date. Ours were bottled only after we chose them.
BARREL PF is barrel proof. Ours were bottled at barrel proof, so watch out.
The panel had just finished selectingthe new Four Roses barrels. Then we took a break to rest our palatesand drink water (we drink a LOT of water). Then we reconvened totackle the Knob Creek.
We tasted fifteen samples plus adistiller’s bottling. It’s important to have a comparison sample, sowe’re not just picking our favorites, but our favorites within atarget profile. The fifteen samples were in three flights of five,each from a different warehouse. We tasted through all silently, thendiscussed after we reached our own conclusions.
Quite spirited, this bourbon is weighty with plenty of sour grain and prune fruit notes. After the 90 proofFour Roses samples, this is a hard-edged punch in the mouth, with more focus and way less spice. It’s a lot like the Knob Creek Small Batch bottling, only really, really alcoholic and more extreme. For the record, I really like this bottling. With ours, we’re looking for this profile, only bigger, more complex, better.
We chose some from each warehouse, noton purpose, but because they were voted the best. Each flight hadsamples numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 without a 5, so if I mention 6, themath does work and I’m not crazy. Sorry if I ramble; I’ll be candid.In general, the samples have way more similarities than differences,so I’m being nitpicky here:
#1- 02A16 G 5 49 2 (Still hasn’t shipped as of today, 4/28)
Several of the samples from warehouse G show fruity peach notes along with baking spice and caramel. All arevery spirited. Outliers here include 4 and 6. My top choice is 6,really complex and dry with floral notes and tea and lemon peel. I’min the minority though, the group votes in 4, which is moreimmediately pleasing with lots of butterscotch and honey, reallyround on the palate with a buttery caramel candy sort of texture. Ihave no complaint with this choice.
Our warehouse H samples might be themost diverse, but 3 and 4 stand out as special. Both are in profilewith our sample, both have complex fruit: amped-up peach and a littleraisin and tropical fruit. There’s good butterscotch andpalate-blowing levels of alcohol (which doesn’t happen to me veryoften anymore).
What is interesting here is that,because they come from the same rick, we wonder if maybe 3 and 4 arefrom the same barrel. They’re just that similar. So we all do aside-by-side comparison. It’s one of those things that catches youoff guard one of those moments where you’re challenged as ataster to dig deeper, and as a group to discuss at more analyticallevel. We agree that 4 is the one, and very nearly buy both.
Warehouse P is oddin retrospect because there are a couple of easily dismissed samplesand a couple of the best. 1 is in profile but nothing special, 2 issmall and thin. I really like the nose on 3 super-obvious peachand apricot and spice but the palate falls short. Both 4 and 6are great. 4 (our #3 bottling, the one bottled at 132.4 proof) is themost herbal of our four selections, with more fennel and clove andmore, wearing its grain on its sleeve. Sample 6 (our #4 bottling, theone bottled at 130.7 proof) is bigger and rounder – more of thatpeach and butterscotch, honey, buttery, darker. Also, I wrote in mynotes that it is more traditional which makes less sense nowthan it did then.
If you check out the above labels, you might notice that, similar to the wa