I'm always honored to have a store ask me to review one of their private barrels. I do realize that I've been reviewing quite a few of these picks as of late and that's just how the rotation comes up.
Today, I've got a sample of Knob Creek 120 Bourbon from Cellars Wine & Spirits in Neenah, Wisconsin. This one was aged nine years before being barreled. If you're unfamiliar with Knob Creek, this is a Beam Suntory product and the number refers to the proof. Knob Creek is one of those brands that enjoys an almost cult-like following. And, if you are familiar with Knob Creek, it is in the process of going through a price increase. Cellars sells this Bourbon for $39.99 and this may be one of the last ones you see at about this price point.
I'd like to thank Cellars for providing me with a sample of their pick in exchange for a no-holds-barred, honest review.
In my Glencairn glass, this presented as a fairly typical Knob Creek 120. It was a bright amber and left a thin rim on the glass that created thick, fat legs.
Aromas of candied oranges and butterscotch made for a very interesting nose. There was nothing else that I could pick up, and for Knob Creek to have only two notes on the nose is a curiosity, especially when there is no oak, which is also a typical note. When I inhaled through my mouth, I picked up what reminded me only of a creamsicle - all orange and vanilla.
This Cellar's pick had a mouthfeel that was thin, oily and coating. At the front of my palate, it was simply heavy orange cream, again, just like a creamsicle. Mid-palate, it switched to cereal and vanilla. On the back, it was a punch of clove.
A very long and spicy finish from the clove remained, and the orange cream snuck back for yet another round. When the orange cream finally faded, it left behind a pleasant rye spice.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I've tasted many, many picks of Knob Creek 120 and truth be told, to stumble on one that doesn't perform well is like finding a needle in a haystack. This particular barrel may be the most unusual one I've ever tasted. I pick up fruits and vanilla from Knob Creek all the time, the fruit and the level of vanilla differ. But I can't say that I've had one where the orange flavor was this dominating. Plus, for $39.99, I don't see where you can go wrong. This one deserves my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!