We’re fans of Knob Creek. Their bourbon. Their single barrel bourbon. Their newly-released rye whiskey. So we were a little surprised — concerned, even — when we heard Knob Creek was releasing Knob Creek Smoked Maple. I mean, these are the good guys. Making 100 proof bourbon since 1992. So what are they doing jumping on the bandwagon and making flavored whiskey? Will it be yet another entry in the sickeningly sweet canon of maple whiskeys?
Turns out, the answer is no. Knob Creek Smoked Maple is, first and foremost, bourbon. While Crown Royal Maple and a few others in the category taste like something more akin to pancake toppers, Knob Creek Smoked Maple has heat (it’s 90 proof), nuance (the smoke is actually quite nice) and it lies within bourbon’s recognized flavor wheelhouse. Just, you know, more maple-y.
On the nose, Knob Creek Smoked Maple is sweet. No real surprise there, but tempering that sweetness is some much appreciated oak and spice. Take a sip and you’ll get vanilla, caramel and baking spices, plus some light smoky notes that keep this one from ever feeling like maple overkill. It finishes warm and easy.
If you’re a bourbon purist, this might be outside your purview. But if you’re into flavored whiskeys and sweeter spirits, or you’re just game to experiment, this is one of the better options out there. Because at the end of the day, it’s still bourbon. And that’s a very good thing.
– 45% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★