Setting the Standards One Small Batch at a Time.
Knob Creek® Original, Single Barrel and Rye have all received the highest Double Gold honors at the San Francisco Spirits Competition. There, our first crack at Rye was named "Best Rye" and was then named "Best New Whiskey of 2012” by Esquire Magazine. Knob Creek is now officially the World’s Most Awarded Bourbon*.
Knob Creek® is part of the Original Small Batch Bourbon Collection® that coined the term "Small Batch". Since then, Knob Creek® has become widely renowned for its big, full flavor and continues the tradition with new bourbons that follow the same tradition, including the newly introduced Knob Creek® Smoked Maple.
Explore the entire Knob Creek® Family for yourself and discover what whiskey was meant to be.
*Based on all major spirits industry awards at time of printing (10/2012 thru 10/2013)
Restoring the Standards of
In 1964 Congress recognized bourbon as "America’s native spirit" and set guidelines to protect it. However, we hold ourselves to even higher standards. The standards Booker Noe set when he fathered the small batch movement:
- Bourbon must be made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
For us, it's a propriety, pre-prohibition-style blend.
- Bourbon must be aged in new, charred-oak barrels.
For us, it's the highest level char possible to get the biggest flavors possible.
- Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 proof. It can't go in the barrel at more than 125 proof, and now it's typically bottled at a post-prohibition standard of 80 proof.
We do things like they used to and bottle at an honest 100 proof.
- Bourbon has no minimum aging period. Some whiskey is aged as little as 3 months and sold as bourbon! And some have added coloring.
Not a chance. We're a straight bourbon. See below.
- Straight bourbon must be aged at least 2 years and doesn't have anything added (e.g. coloring, flavoring or other spirits). The age stated on its label must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.
We only make Straight Bourbon in small batches. Each barrel blended to make Knob Creek has spent 9 years in Clermont, KY.
Booker Noe's Son, Master Distiller
“It's part science, part art and all pride. Every bottle we produce is a reflection of my family, so I know it has to be perfect.”
In carefully measured proportions, corn, rye, and barley malt represent the beginning of our unique bourbon recipe.
Bourbon must be 51% corn, but our exact proportion of grain types is one secret to our signature flavor.
The water in Kentucky is what makes it the heart of the bourbon country.
Our water flows through incredibly rich areas of limestone, which naturally filters it of impurities.
The grain is ground into meal and combined with pure Kentucky limestone-filtered water and "set back," which is a portion of previously distilled mash that is added to each batch.
The set back plays an integral role in the mashing process because it ensures consistent quality and flavor with every batch.
The meal, water, and set back are mixed and carefully cooked. At the right moment, we lower the temperature and then add ground barley malt. The malt converts the grain starch into the glorious sugars needed for the next step in the distillation process: fermentation.
The sugar-laden mash is cooled and pumped into fermentation vessels.
Set back is added again in a step called "topping off" to maintain the highest-quality consistency.
Then comes Booker Noe's very own yeast. Yeast is known as "distiller's gold," and Booker knew he had something special with his particular strain.
This proprietary strain of yeast is completely unique and produces some of the special flavor components that characterize Knob Creek. Upon adding the yeast, natural fermentation begins. This typically takes three to five days, converting the sugar to alcohol in an unhurried and natural process. The result is called "distiller's beer."
The distiller's beer is transferred into the first distillation column, which is appropriately called the "beer still."
The distiller's beer enters the beer still and descends through perforated plates. Simultaneously, steam rises from the bottom of the still up through the plates, stripping alcohol from the beer and creating a vapor. The alcohol vapor leaves the top of the beer still and goes through a condenser that cools it into a colorless liquid called "low wine."
The low wine is delivered to the doubler, a second still where it is heated and converted again to a vapor that is collected and condensed. The product of this second distillation step, called "doubling", is high wine or white dog. By law, high wine for bourbon can be no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol by volume. Though it has a strong grainy flavor, it already has some of the aroma and flavor notes that characterize our unique flavor. Then, following pre-prohibition standards, we only reduce our high wine to 125 proof with the pure, limestone filtered water of Kentucky.
We age Knob Creek for 9 years, longer than any other small batch bourbon we know of.
And our new American white oak barrels are charred over an open fire for a level 4 char — the deepest char possible. It's this intense charring and longer aging that brings out our big, bold flavor reminiscent of pre-prohibition quality.
Barrels are stored in 9-story rack houses for aging. The barrel placement is one of the most important aspects of the aging process. The top racks are warmer/drier so the barrels experience more evaporation, thus creating a higher proof (near 145) with more compact flavor. The bottom is a cooler, damper area, so the barrels will actually take in moisture resulting in a lower proof (110-125) and a softer bite. The middle is what Booker Noe called "The Center Cut" and is the most unchanging. For the original Knob Creek bourbon we blend a small batch of barrels from fixed locations to create a consistent flavor time after time.
The temperature in the rackhouse cycles with the seasons, which allows the bourbon to breathe in and out of the charred barrel. Each natural cycle in and out of the wood adds the rich amber color and the distinctive flavors that go into each small batch.