March 7, 2019
Knob Creek and Booker’s are both part of Jim Beam’s very popular “small batch” line of bourbons. They’re both big and loud high-proof bourbons that are accessible and not incredibly expensive (I won’t get into Beam raising the price on Booker’s). I’m a big fan of both and have bought multiple bottles over the years. I’ve always wondered how the two compare and finally sat down to compare them side-by-side to find out and show you the results.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each bourbon.
How to Read the Chart
Knob Creek Single Barrel is in blue, and Booker’s is in orange. The center of the circle indicates none of a trait. Further out the line indicates a stronger presence of that trait.
The scale (from inside to out):
Knob Creek Single Barrel and Booker’s Kitchen Table are very good. Even though they come from the same mash, they are noticeably different. Knob Creek is loud, brash, and aggressive, full of dark sugars, spice, wood, and heat. Booker’s, even though it’s younger and higher proof, exhibits more restraint and refinement. It still offers many of the same rich nut, brown sugar, wood, and spice notes, but also has more nuanced and delicate peach, pear, cherry, and flower that are less common. Booker’s is more complex and interesting, and for better or worse, nuttier.
While age is often associated with quality and price, the younger and more expensive Booker’s is in my opinion the better bourbon (but I will happily drink either). It just goes to show that barrel selection can be very impactful. The takeaway: both bourbons should have a place on your shelf. Booker’s is the “better” bourbon and Knob Creek is the better “value”. You can’t go wrong either way.