What Is Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey?

A Guide to Buying and Drinking Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Beam Suntory 

Knob Creek Bourbon is an iconic whiskey that is enjoyed throughout the world. It is the best-known whiskey of Jim Beam's Small Batch Collection, and the brand is owned by Beam Suntory. Regarded for its bold, rich, and full-bodied taste, the flagship bottle of Knob Creek is aged nine years and bottled at a strong 100-proof. The Kentucky whiskey brand also produces an impressive rye whiskey as well as a number of special and limited edition expressions. Whether you drink it straight or mix it into cocktails, this premium bourbon is surprisingly affordable and an excellent addition to any liquor cabinet or bar.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: Corn and other grains
  • Proof: 100
  • ABV: 50%
  • Calories in a shot: 104
  • Origin: Clermont, Kentucky
  • Taste: Oaky, sweet, bold
  • Aged: 9 years or longer
  • Serve: Shots, straight-up, on the rocks, cocktails

What Is Knob Creek Made From?

Knob Creek is a straight bourbon whiskey produced in Clermont, Kentucky. It was created in 1992 by Booker Noe, the sixth generation master distiller of the Jim Beam family. Noe's intent was to create a full-flavored bourbon that resembled those distilled before Prohibition. It's produced in small batches and is part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, which also includes Baker's, Basil Hayden's, and Booker's. Today, Booker's son, Fred Noe, continues the legacy as master distiller.

Required by law for all bourbons, Knob Creek is distilled from a mashbill that is at least 51 percent corn. The remainder of the mashbill is not disclosed. After distillation, the whiskey is aged in new American oak barrels that receive the maximum amount of char. The standard bottle of Knob Creek ages for nine years is bottled at 50 percent alcohol by volume (100 proof). Other expressions may rest for longer and be higher proof.

What Does Knob Creek Taste Like?

Often held up as a standard for robust bourbons, Knob Creek's taste is big, bold, and complex. The aroma holds a bouquet of rich wood and vanilla notes with hints of maple sugar and roasted almonds. Considering its strength, it's surprising that the palate is rather rich with a sweet oakiness and delicious fruity undertones, as well as hints of cinnamon and spice. The finish is long and satisfying, tantalizing the drinker to take another sip.


Though it started as a one-bottle brand, the Knob Creek label has expanded to include an entire portfolio of well-crafted whiskeys. At times, the distillery also releases limited edition whiskeys, which are often aged longer or bottled at cask strength.

  • Knob Creek 9 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey: The original expression that continues as the brand's flagship. It is aged for nine years and 100 proof.
  • Knob Creek 12 Year Bourbon: The same strength and formula as the original, this whiskey was a 2020 release. It is aged for 12 years, which adds to its oaky flavor.
  • Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Bourbon: Bottled at 120 proof, this bourbon is part of the brand's Single Barrel Program through which retailers choose particular barrels from the distillery's rackhouses.
  • Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon: The master distiller hand-selects barrels deemed to hold "exceptional" whiskey for this 120-proof bourbon. It's considered the best of Knob Creek's bourbon.
  • Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Smoked Maple: This whiskey is produced by blending the 9 Year Bourbon with smoked maple flavors. It's a relatively mild 90 proof and has a softer, smokier flavor.
  • Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey: Breaking away from bourbon in 2012, this rye whiskey is distilled from premium rye, which gives it a spicy flavor. It's bottled at 100 proof, while the Single Barrel Select Rye is 115 proof.

How to Drink Knob Creek

There is no wrong way to drink Knob Creek and it's always an enjoyable experience. Enjoy it straight, as a shot, on the rocks, or in cocktails. Its bold profile can be a little tough for some palates, and a splash of water opens up the aroma and flavor wonderfully. For a 100-proof whiskey, that's almost expected and will make drinking it straight more enjoyable. And yet, that boldness also ensures Knob Creek is an excellent cocktail mixer. The taste will not get lost in the most flavorful or complex bourbon drinks, no matter how hard you try.

Cocktail Recipes

This is a very mixable bourbon that will work in nearly any whiskey cocktail you want to make. Knob Creek Rye is also an excellent choice for classic cocktails, many of which originally used rye whiskey anyway.

Where to Buy Knob Creek

Knob Creek is a well-distributed brand and the 9-year-old bourbon should be in nearly any liquor store you walk in to. The rye whiskey is also relatively easy to find. Some of the specialty and limited edition releases will be a bit trickier; look for them at well-stocked liquor stores. If shipping alcohol is legal where you live, many are available online as well.