Here it is, the last of the first round matchups! And I think that it is fitting that this was the absolute closest match so far. You might think that it would be one sided with the New Knob Creek being so close to barrel strength and all, but it was by no means lopsided. The Wathen’s is a finely crafted 94 proof beauty that delivers time and again.
So the stage was set for the final show down of round one. I did my usual where I started with the lower proof bourbon first, that way my palate isn’t fried by the time I get to the second shot. The Wathen’s Single Barrel is a lovely little bourbon that has a nice vanilla and light fruit nose. It has a medium mouthfeel and was slightly oily with a few legs standing on the edge of the Glencarin. Its flavor was great. Light fruit up front with a caramel vanilla mid palate and slight burn and good finish that lasted about 30-45 seconds. This is a well crafted whiskey that deserves all the accolades it receives.
The Knob Creek SB Reserve is a different creature. I had never had it before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. This isn’t your Dad’s Knob Creek. It is a raw and unabashedly aggressive bourbon that comes in at 120 proof and you feel every one of them! This whiskey was a bit of an enigma however, within its rawness it was very layered, and had an unexpected refinement, once you made your way past its chainsaw heart.
As you can see the pour was nearly identical to the Wathen’s. I actually took a twist tie and looped it over the rim of the glass for the Knob Creek so I could tell which was which. The Knob was a little thinner than the Wathen’s. Not as many legs on the glass, and this was reflected in the mouthfeel. It did a good job of coating my palate but was a touch dry on the way down. It did however numb my tongue for about a minute after I drank it, as the finish is Huge, as you might expect. The flavor of this whiskey is very interesting. I starts out quite sweet, and has that familiar Knob Creek cherry and oak flavor. Then it shreds your mouth with a 1000 little cheese graters. Not really, but it does have a BIG burn and a LONG finish. I’d give this guy a good 2 minutes on the finish, and after I finished it, I could taste and feel it for the rest of the night until I went to bed!
What really took me aback about this version of KC is that it had layers of flavor. There was an order in the chaos. I found as I drank it I picked up on different flavors, cherry, caramel, pear, vanilla, apricot, tobacco, leather. They just kept appearing and fading back. It was this complexity that ultimately tipped the scales in Knob Creek’s favor. I have to declare it the winner, by a nose. The Wathen’s is an excellent bourbon, and on a different night I might declare it the winner, it was that close, but on this night beneath the stars on my from porch, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve pulled out the win.
So we are into the quarter finals! Here is the bracket now.