by Colin A. Dodds
If you ever wondered what was behind the grimace of Humphrey Bogart or John Wayne as they drank some nonspecific mixture in the movies of yesteryear, Knob Creek Straight Bourbon Whiskey is an edifying experience.
The key word in its extended name is ‘Straight’- this is alcohol first (100 proof) and beverage second. It has a dark, sharp
flavor with very little of the sweetness that characterizes bourbons like Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, and Old Crow. What sweetness it does possess takes the form of a subdued, almost smoky syrup-like undertone.
There is something refreshing about the flavor- in the way that standing out in the freezing cold until half of you burns and the other half is numb is refreshing. Even Wild Turkey and Old Grandad are not the trial by fire that Knob Creek is. To the less experienced bourbon drinker, Knob Creek burns in such a way that the drinker is torn between being proud of having swallowed it and the urge to
immediately wipe the taste from memory. The flavor reminds you of the very pain that alcohol supposedly undoes, elusive to the degree it is intense, unremitting…It is a fine bourbon for the ‘man on a mission,’ when that mission is to get drunk via a merciless and honest (for aren’t all merciless things ultimately honest?) bourbon.
Knob Creek had a brief advertising campaign a year or so ago. It had no laughing, socializing people in it. No indication is made of the of the goodtime possibilities of this drink. The ads consisted of the label, blown up to ad size. I realize now that this was the closest I have come in my short life to truth in advertising. The reason is this, Knob Creek is a bourbon of reckoning.
Sure, you can swill a couple glasses among friends and be howling happy. It will be the night of your life- provided you don’t end up in jail. Then again, it still might be the night of your life.
But to me, Knob Creek is a solitary drink. It’s just you and this rectagular, ancient-looking bottle, and a whole lot of taste. (Rating ****1/2)