As the air becomes a little more brisk, it’s not only the leaves that begin to change, it’s also our drinking habits. For many of us, as we head into October and November, it becomes time to mothball the hard seltzers we crushed on the beach, the low-proof highballs and milder whiskeys we sipped all summer. If we’re going to bear the full brunt of the incoming cold fronts, we are all going to need something more robust, something a little more warming. That’s why Knob Creek is the ideal option for fall and, eventually, winter sipping.
Just like those leaves slowly turning from green to dark hues of red, orange, and brown, Knob Creek is also darker than all those other “green” and youthful whiskeys out there. That’s because even its flagship straight bourbon whiskey is 9 years old. Dark amber in color, its aroma might instantly remind you of the nuts roasting on a New York City street corner this fall. The palate leans a touch sweeter, though always balanced, with robust notes of vanilla and fruit, and a long, warming finish.
As the brand likes to say, “The Depth is in the Details.” That was master distiller Booker Noe’s intention right from the get-go. Knob Creek was founded in 1992, at a time when Americans, if they were even drinking bourbon at all, were drinking lighter, less flavorful options. Noe — Jim Beam’s grandson — wanted to return bourbon to its glory days of the pre-Prohibition era, when whiskey was full flavored, well aged, and of the highest quality. Today, Knob Creek is all about setting the standard of full flavor for people who are really looking to savor and appreciate their whiskey.
That is certainly the case with Knob Creek 12 Year, which is 100 proof and as dark copper as a caramel apple. A little drier than the 9 Year Old, the wood notes from the oak barrels have had more time to balance within the spirit, though tantalizing notes of caramel, vanilla, and graham cracker are always present. You could call this pie in a glass; it’s perfect for chilly evening sipping around a backyard fire pit with friends.
Knob Creek Rye, however, might be the quintessential cold-weather pour. A luminescent gold color, its aroma explodes with scents of dried herbs and baking spices, redolent of harvest breads cooling on window sills. The taste is bolder, with the rye spice really kicking in, though never covering up the undertones of vanilla and oak. This is a rye for enjoying on chilly hay rides or while watching Sunday afternoon football.
Additionally, while Knob Creek is refined enough to sip neat all the way ’til spring, its rich flavor profile means it also works in other ways.
The Old Fashioned is ideal, especially with Knob Creek Rye, which produces a spicier drink with notes of white pepper, citrus rinds, and mint. It’s always a wonderful choice for enjoying when 5 o’clock strikes as the days begin getting shorter and shorter.
A Knob Creek Manhattan or Boulevardier can work with any meal of the season, pairing beautifully with the seasonal squashes, root vegetables, stews, and chilis we’ll enjoy all the way through until Thanksgiving Day. Additionally, Knob Creek is one of the few whiskeys strong enough to make its presence known in hot cocktails like toddies or mulled ciders. You could even spike your hot cocoa with it.
For a nightcap over the next few months, though, reward yourself with a pour from Knob Creek’s Single Barrel series. The Single Barrel Reserve bourbon is 9 years old and a stout 120 proof, inherently meant to showcase the unique aromas and flavor profiles of each and every barrel. Along with the Single Barrel Select Bourbon and Single Barrel Select Rye — one-of-a-kind, limited releases picked by bars, retailers, and private groups — these are high-proof, highly flavorful bottles to relax and ruminate over, perhaps sitting by the fireplace safe from the increasingly cold elements. And it’s only going to get colder.
Winter is coming, and only Knob Creek can help us bide our time until then.
This article is sponsored by James B. Beam Distilling Co. ©2021 Beam Suntory Inc. Chicago, IL