Launched as a limited release in July 2020, Knob Creek 15 Year Old is the Kentucky bourbon maker’s most mature bottling to date. Like the other whiskeys bottled under the Knob Creek label, the juice here has been aged in maximum-char new American oak barrels. Only this time, its nap lasted for a decade-and-a-half.
The nose features strong, spicy oak, plus toffee, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla. In all, a fairly traditional bourbon bouquet—except that the oak presence is unsurprisingly off-the-charts.
The palate begins with brown sugar, toffee, and a tidal wave of oak that’s disrupted only by the surprising sweetness of green apples. Cinnamon spice kicks in at the center, where that fruit note gets richer and sweeter, dipping into peach. From there, apricots join in at the back, along with dark raisins and leather. But oak continues to play the dominant role, and comes in hot at the end with a mouth-puckering dryness that cuts through its meaty, viscous body and sweet orchard fruit notes. At last light it’s played off in a spicy but measured finish that supplies oak for days.
For a high-proof bourbon of accelerated age, Knob Creek 15 is not a grenade of vanilla and spice, but a rich, slow-burn of oak and sweet fruit that almost brings incense to mind. That, or stone fruits blowtorched over oak chips. Honestly, either scenario sounds pretty nice—and so is Knob Creek 15.
— 50% ABV