Round 2 of Kentucky Bourbons. Round 1 was here. Tonight we have a somewhat disparate comparison of the Knob Creek Single Barrel 9YO to a possibly-single barrel w/ oak staves 6-8YO+several months, Maker’s 46.
1) Knob Creek Single Barrel 9YO (Challenger)– 60% ABV – 750ml, (Clermont, KY, USA), $59 CAD @ BCLiquor Stores
- made with corn, rye, barley malt.
- each barrel is somewhat unique in flavour profile due to its placement in the warehouse and duration of barrel aging, 9 years being the minimum.
- Double Gold @ 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
2) Maker’s 46 – 47% ABV – 750ml, (Loretto, KY, USA), $60 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores
- made with corn, red winter wheat, barley malt.
- patented hand-dipped wax sealed top
- 10 toasted French oak staves are added to the barrel and aged for 2-3 months to impart a spicier, more intense caramel and vanilla flavour profile while maintaining their signature “tip the of tongue” finish.
Nose: Knob Creek is up first, and only a medium tingly nasal sensation accompanied by a medium alcohol detection; surprising for 60% abv. Mainly oaked caramel, but otherwise rather muted. In comparison, Maker’s has a noticeably rounder, denser, more aromatic nose consisting of sweeter caramel/toffee, mixed with a toastier burnt wood backdrop. KC = light-caramel+alcohol, Maker’s = thick toasted caramel. Clearly Maker’s 46 is more aromatic.
Taste & Texture: KC flavour builds up softly, starting with a lot of sweet cornmeal up front, spicy hot oaked caramel (rye), intense alcoholic heat + nasal warmth, licorice tongue numbness, extra-long smooth warm finish, all the way down to the very depths of the throat. After drinking KC @60%, Maker’s at a paltry 47% almost seems like water, no joke. Maker’s has a markedly sweeter start(winter wheat), transitioning into a much less spicy toastier oaked caramel with sourness, and about 1/2 the heat and numbness, but surprisingly jagged and unclean compared to KC. KC = light fruity caramel +HEAT, Maker’s = sweet-tangy toasted caramel.
It was a hard choice, but KC edged it out with its clean finish. After a month of back-and-forth casual re-tastings, my drink of choice is Maker’s 46. 60% ABV is just way too much; you gag if you don’t swallow properly and half the time it gives me sore throat…
- Going into this I actually liked 46 more at first, but actually in essence it depends on what you like. KC is like a bullet train that rips off your toupée, while Maker’s is like a local train that has a lot of activity at every stop (sip).
- Go Maker’s for flavour, Knob Creek for clean, round smoothness.
- Knob Creek Single Barrel gives me occasional hiccups and a sore throat.
Knob Creek (New Round 2 Champ) Rescinded. Maker’s 46 is still champ.