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Rowan's Creek Bourbon

Average score from 8 reviews and 37 ratings 71

Rowan's Creek Bourbon

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Rowan's Creek Bourbon

Caramel pour with a nose of alcohol and oak and more alcohol. Fairly smooth on the tongue considering it's 101 proof. Tasted of oak and leather and more booze. Luckilly I didn't get any splinters


Nose: The dominant impression is of burnt (ashy) dark caramel with a sturdy minty accent of rye. With repeated breathing you can spot supporting elements of oak smoothened by banana (acetone) and vanilla.

Palate: Big brown syrup moistens the mouth..., with a brief trail of pepper & ash, until mounds of luscious vanilla surge in. But these can't forever disguise that fragrant minty rye-like tone, which eventually expresses its spice more like wood chips.

Finish: Vanilla comes back; becomes minty rye and oak, lasting long with a smidgen of citrus sourness.

Great balance and character, especially if you like that rye effect (in general, mint does not especially call to me). The flavors are bold and tasty-- and without a disturbance of sour or bitter (until the late finish). To repeat: balanced yet with character.


This is the thickest bourbon i have ever had, it stays with me for quite a while.

Nose: Smokey Banana Chips, vanilla, tobacco, some mint sprigs. Palate: Smokey Banana Chips, vanilla, fruity spice, mint, tobacco, oak. Finish: Starts off really dominating my taste-buds with fruit, vanilla, and oak to being a slight hint of vanilla.

For those who forget i do not add water to my bourbon.

@GBrough, it's funny with Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) products,... I am a big fan of most of them, even though apparently few outside the Kulsveen/Willett family know for sure at which distilleries each of them originated. I have a bottle of Rowan's Creek, which left me cold for a long time, but became really fabulous after taking a lot of oxygen over time. If you believe Mr. Murray, there is a lot of batch variation in Rowan's Creek. Is there? I don't know, because I've only drunk from the one bottle. With sourced whiskies like the current line from KBD, we would never know from one batch to the next whether they even stayed with the source distilleries for each corresponding brand among the quite a few brands which they have...except, perhaps, by tasting.

It will be extremely interesting in the near future to see what the new whiskeys which are being distilled now at the newly re-opened KBD/Willett distillery will taste like.

@Russ, thanks for sharing your experience with Rowan's Creek. Are you buddies with the Kulsveens? Have you consulted with them in planning your distillery? I have always liked their whiskey company, even though they have been rather private with information about it.


Rowan’s Creek is a product of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers Ltd. It takes its name from the creek whose water is used for production. The creek itself got its name in the 18th Century from John Rowan, a local distiller, judge and politician. It is KBD’s chicken with the golden eggs and won top honors twice at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, in 2005 and 2011. It matured for 12 years.

The nose is very closed and needs hand warmth to open up. Apart from the obligatory vanilla and caramel, I get citrus and mild spices. Remarkable amount of oak. Freshly sawn planks. Dusty as an attic that has not been used for ages. Even some boiled vegetables.

It rolls over the tongue unhindered, moutcoating and sweet on vanilla, caramel and a touch of citrus. Quite some oak and heavy on spices.

The finish is medium long, remains fruit, but it is the oak that has the last laugh.

It started of closed, but my patience was rewarded with a very beautiful bourbon, soft and accessible.


Rowan's Creek is one of 4 Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd small batch bourbons. The others are Noah's Mill, Pure Kentucky XO, and Kentucky Vintage.

Nose: moderate oak, a little fruity

Taste: full flavoured, sweet, strong oak, moderate to strong spice, caramel, a little vanilla, and a little citrus

Finish: fairly long, with caramel and oak flavours lasting the longest

Balance: when I first tasted this bourbon I found it to be a little cerebral and locked up in flavour. I have found that with the bottle now open over one year that the flavours are completely opened up and delightful. This is a very nice bourbon, though I prefer its sibling the Pure Kentucky XO

@boardsy, Welcome! It is nice to have additional company on Connosr commenting on the KBD product line. I would describe the Pure Kentucky XO as having a deeper range of flavours, with more noticeable bass note contributions from the wood, compared to Noah's Mill, which I think of as being more 'high-pitched', to use a musical analogy. I do also like the KBD product line in general, though I am not a huge Noah's Mill fan, as you may see that I have posted in various places. My taste prefers more bass notes, and there is something in Noah's Mill that always has seemed just a little bit cloying to me. I like Noah's Mill ok, and have tried it several times, but I would probably not ever buy a bottle of it. In other postings you will note that @AboutChoice has been a Noah's Mill's enthusiast for a very long time. I have a 12 yo Willett "Calypso" that I would prefer the most among the range of KBD bourbons I have tried. There was also that Willett "Soppresata" that I reviewed that was out of this world, along with the astounding 23 yo Willett "Iron Fist" rye. From KBD, I also like Johnny Drum Private Stock and Kentucky Vintage. Our tastes are individual, for sure.

Hello @boardsy. The Willett family used to distill at their family distillery before they sold it to Even Kulsveen in 1984. Kulsveen is a selector, buyer, and bottler of whiskeys from other distillers. He has not reopened the Willett distillery. His corporation is named Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd. The Willett Pot Still Reserve is the only Willett-named product that KBD sells that is not a single barrel product. The Willett single barrel products, both bourbons and ryes, are numbered and usually named. They are very difficult to find. Even in the US, probably not 1 liquor store in 100 has Willett single barrel whiskeys in its inventory for sale. Some of the best stores will buy entire Willett single barrels and bottle and sell them under the Willett label. They are a rare treat. At worst they are good to very good, at best frequently astonishing. I hope that you find and like Pure Kentucky XO. Cheers!


The salesman in the local liquor store turned me on to this gem over the weekend. Absolutely brilliant! Mellow with just the right amount of rye brightness and a very long vanilla finish. This is going to be my new favorite bourbon -- and at $36 per bottle, it is a relative bargain.

My sister gave me a bottle of Rowan's Creek about a year ago. At first I found it to be a little too cerebral and lacking in fullness and roundness for my taste. With time and the bottle having been open for a few months (this often changes flavours a lot) I can say I am enjoying it greatly. By all means, if you like Rowan's Creek, get yourself a taste of the Willett bourbons, also produced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd.


This Whiskey was confusing to me at first, until I remembered to let it speak for itself. I often have a flavor profile in mind before drinking a single taste and this clouds my experience of tasting. This whiskey was positively psychedelic. Seemingly contradictory but making perfect sense at the moment, then fading gently away as if it maybe never was...

This specimen was everything I thought it would be on the nose and More! Beautifully More!! Rich, nuanced and balanced, and ultra-luxurious.

The palate was so tightly wrapped in wood with only the crunchy sweet rye coming through around the edges. This rye, I mean Bourbon, opens up slowly, drop by drop, with water revealing a genteel sweetheart of a whiskey, hiding shyly under the gruff, bitter exterior.

The finish is what really takes this stuff to another level. It comes on subtly and gentle, almost whimsical, blossoming, building up to a gentle but all encompassing crescendo of layered flavors. Here is the luxurious complexity the nose promised. Here is the dark mystery that is so intoxicating, soft but overpowering: Zen Bourbon!


Rowen’s Creek, 12 year, small batch Bourbon, produced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd, Bardstown, KY, is part of their Small Batch Collection: Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Pure Kentucky XO, and Kentucky Vintage. They also distill Johnny Drum Old-fashioned Sour Mash Whiskey, Vintage Bourbon 17, and the Old Bardstown series. According to the distiller, Rowen’s is bottled by hand, one batch at a time, and is named after the creek that runs through the distillery. John Rowen settled in the area in the late 1700s, and later became a respected judge and statesman.

Though not a ubiquitous whiskey, I have seen it now and then on the internet, and I suppose I was attracted by its rarity and seemingly small production as compared to the mainstream bourbons. The label on its wine-type bottle, which is designed to look hand-written, also causes a degree fascination. I once offered a dram to an acquaintance, who quickly declined while asking if it was home-made :-) The reviewed bottle is from batch 07/121.

Bottle Nose: Rich butterscotch pudding

Glass Nose: Deep brown sugar, candied butterscotch, vanilla and a hint of chocolate brownie ... sometimes piney with alcohol

Palate: Tasted without water, you are immediately engaged with a luscious, chewy, deep semi-sweet brown sugar, and lovely concentrated flavors of fruits & flower blossoms, and perhaps a bit of cinnamon.

Finish: A big, long burst of wonderful, dry and satisfying warmth.

Conclusion: Rowan’s Creek is a rich, unique, assertive, tasty and very pleasant bourbon, with a medium body. There are no harsh edges or bitterness, and it is a worthy addition to any collection. It is one of those bourbons that, during the first sip, grabs your attention, and compels you to sit down.

While not quite an Ultimate bourbon, it is unique and easily Top-shelf, and quite above the “everyday” group, such as Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey and Makers, which all seem 1-dimensional in comparison. Peers to Rowan’s Creek might be Bakers, Jefferson’s and Van Winkle Special Reserve. Rowan’s is mid-priced in the mid 30s USD (20s GBP).

Score: 88/100

Another great review, @AboutChoice! Keep 'em coming...

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