knob creek longhorn steakhouse review
Knob Creek Longhorn Steakhouse 14 Year Single Barrel
Distillery: Jim Beam
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley
Aged: 14 years and 1 monthin virgin American white oak
From the back of the bottle:
“There’s no faking full bourbon flavor. It has to be earned. So that’s what we do in Clermont: we earn it. We start by selecting the finest grains. And we finish by meticulously aging our whiskey in white oak barrels with maximum char, for an unmistakable richness and signature sweetness. It’s the natural way. And there’s just no cheating nature.
Unblended to show off the singular nature of each hand-chosen barrel.”
knob creek longhorn steakhouse overview
Knob Creek Single Barrel 9 Year is a staple of any good whiskey shelf, especially if you can find it for under $40-45. It’s flavorful, accessible, and as an added bonus – 120 proof. Knob Creek store picks have also been around for years, but around late 2018 (maybe earlier), 14+ year old store picks started appearing, blowing our minds with very old bourbon for not very old bourbon prices. George T Stagg (~15 years) is $100 at MSRP and much more on secondary, while these 14 year old picks are around $50 *mind explodes*. Jim Beam must have been one of the few distilleries prepared to handle the huge surge in demand.
This Knob Creek Longhorn Steakhouse 14 Year Single barrel is one of those older barrel picks, barreled on 6/1/2005 and selected on 7/17/2019. The barrel sat in warehouse W-Y, floor F-03, and rick R-041. While I don’t know if that’s a good warehouse or location, I still appreciate the transparency. Since Longhorn Steakhouse is a chain of restaurants, I don’t exactly know how or why these appeared at my local ABC store, but I can’t complain. While only so many of this particular Knob Creek pick hit the shelves, there still are quite a few 14+ year store picks out there across the US, so not all is lost. Let’s find out if this not wallet-murdering 14 year old bourbon is too good to be true in this Knob Creek Longhorn Steakhouse Single Barrel review.
As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for my reviews and comparisons (because they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass, Set of 6, Clear, 6 Pack. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.
knob creek longhorn steakhouse smell
Knob Creek Longhorn Steakhouse has an old and musty nose that shows off its age. There’s dark and oaky caramel, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, “Beam funk” dried grass and peanut shells, hints of mint, licorice, orange, and maraschino cherry. While the “Beam funk” is there, it’s rounded out by so much other character that if you happen not to like it (I actually do), there’s still a lot of other rich scents to appreciate. Whatever it is, there’s a light vegetal and earthy scent, like raw broccoli. I can’t explain why it’s there, but it is. The alcohol though is tough to gauge. It was quite hot when the bottle was first opened (just like the standard 9 year single barrel), but it has come down quite a lot since then as its been given a few months to breathe in the bottle. As of now, this Longhorn Steakhouse Single Barrel leaves a strong first impression.
Swirling makes the alcohol and toasted oak perk up, but it eventually fades into musty oak, slightly burnt corn kernels, caramel, vanilla, ripe peach, dried orange, cinnamon, chocolate and mint. Maple syrup (the real kind) wafts out every now and then, a very pleasant scent. As dark and oaky as Knob Creek is, there’s still just enough fruit presence that helps subdue the nutty and grassy Beam-ness that I’m sure is just itching to get free. This Knob Creek 14 year single barrel bourbon is quite the mature and rich bourbon that’s not overoaked as might be expected, so I’m happy.
knob creek longhorn steakhouse taste & aftertaste
Knob Creek Longhorn Steakhouse comes off very toasty and sweet with caramel, vanilla, oak, and cinnamon followed by a rush of potent, but not quite overpowering alcohol. There’s a lot going on all at once. “Chewing” reveals thick honey, licorice (from the rye), and vanilla followed by a surge of roasted oak, cinnamon spice, and alcohol with a little orange and apple. There’s an underlying herbalness and fruitiness, but the oak seems to suppress some of it. Don’t get me wrong though, the Longhorn Steakhouse single barrel isn’t overoaked at all, so it doesn’t taste like burnt wood liquid. The flavors also aren’t particularly nutty, possibly “aged-away” after 14 years, and the alcohol isn’t as hot as I had expected for 120 proof, also likely a byproduct of extra aging.
Loads of vanilla and honey layered onto oak kick-off the finish that tapers off into oak, mint, and citrus. As oaky as this bourbon can be, bringing dark and bitter traits, the finish ends up actually quite bright and refreshing because of the mint and citrus. Even with such a small sip, the finish is incredibly layered, varied, and interesting. After “chewing”, the alcohol lingers a little longer with caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon. Over time the oak tannins shift to the forefront with cocoa, mint, and citrus – a fantastic finish.
There are a ton of fantastic flavors in this Knob Creek Single Barrel, but they stay squarely within the Jim Beam / Knob Creek lane of flavors. Anyone familiar with the standard Knob Creek 9 Year Single Barrel will feel right at home with this 14 year old pick, but the extra aging makes everything more developed, rich, and better. I personally don’t mind that, but it may not necessarily convert those who dislike that profile.
Whiskey is also for sharing, so I use Vivaplex, 12, Amber, 2 oz Glass Bottles, with Lids for smaller samples and Vivaplex, 12, Amber, 4 oz Glass Bottles, with Lids for larger ones. Full transparency – This is an Amazon affiliate link so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else. Regardless, I actually use these myself.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
To be honest, I’ve drank this Knob Creek Longhorn Steakhouse Single Barrel from time to time in social settings and shared most of it (hence the low fill level in the image), but I’m only now taking the time to slowly appreciate it. All I can say is that I did myself a disservice by waiting to do this review because this is excellent bourbon (I’m not at all upset about sharing). It smells and tastes developed, rich, and interesting like other “Top Shelf” bourbons. It’s a little oak-forward and straightforward at times (but not in a bad way), but it still provides rich sugars, ripe fruits, and cocoa, while never feeling out of balance – qualities of a great bourbon. As an added bonus, the 120 proof is almost always controlled, something I’m learning cannot be taken for granted with 12+ year old 120+ proof whiskey.
For better or worse, this 14-year Longhorn Steakhouse pick stays squarely in the Jim Beam / Knob Creek lane of scents and flavors with a lot of caramel and vanilla with that subdued grassy and nutty “Beam funk”. I’ve drank a lot of Beam products over the years, so while there’s nothing surprising, everything is still incredibly developed and enjoyable. It’s a “meat and potatoes” type bourbon, but a gourmet one at that. At $50, this is a clear buy and one of the top non-Stagg Jr bourbons under $60.
Side note: it might be time for Beam to try a little harder with their bourbons. Legent was a good first try, but a finished 10 year old cask strength Knob Creek bourbon could be unique, interesting, and tasty…so take note Jim Beam / Knob Creek product / brand managers (email me). You know how to find me.
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