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An unexpected irony: When I first encountered bourbons, my first purchase in 2013 was Booker’s and I was thoroughly impressed. Given its scarcity in these parts, sometime in 2014 (I believe) I decided to shore up my holdings with a bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel. This was to be replaceable, less expensive bourbon to stretch my supply of the “good stuff”.
Since that time the KCSB 9 YO has been discontinued in favour of NAS, and though I picked up 2 last year “just in case”, In the past 3 years I’ve accumulated and tasted from at least 7 batches of Booker’s, finished 2 bottles, and some of the ones I bought (in Calgary or US) were cheaper than the KCSB… So much for cheap and replaceable. Not to mention OGD114 which is cheaper, I have more of (though not all here), and I like better.
I believe I opened it in 2014. I have progressed through the bottle slowly, gassing each time. There is a little under a third of a bottle left.
This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
Neat – At first it’s very closed. No surprise since it’s been gassed for who knows how long. With time, swished around the glass and covered, it starts to open and become fruity, with gentle caramel and vanilla. A little dusty. Maybe a hint of menthol. Apple Schnapps? No, apple pie filling made from granny smith apples with just a little sugar and cinnamon. The longer I nose it (it’s been a good 20-25 min) the more I like it. For 60% it’s quite gentle on the nose. 22/25
With water – No change in the nose.
Neat – Strong wave of flavour all over my mouth with the first sip. Minimal alcohol nip. There is lots of caramel and vanilla, a little bitterness (in a nice way, pepper maybe?) on the development. 21/25
With water – The flavours are the same but become slightly richer. (21.5/25)
Finish: medium sweet on the finish with a hint of menthol. It doesn’t last too long and I get a mild dryness at the end. 21/25 With water, the menthol is slightly more prominent.
Balance: This is a nicely balanced dram. Not too complex, but definitely pleasant and drinkable. 21.5/25
Score: Neat - 85.5/100 With Water: 86/100
Total Score based on experience and enjoyment: 86 /100
I like this. If Booker’s or OGD 114 were around (not to mention a BTAC) I would probably go there first. That’s probably why this bottle has lasted almost 3 years and may yet last another 1-2.
I think it is more balanced and presents better than the EH Taylor I just reviewed. So if I had to choose one (barrel) of the two, I would choose this one.