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Basil Hayden’s vs Knob Creek: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s Bourbon vs Knob Creek 9 Year in this head to head matchup and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

NoseApple, floral, rye spice
PalateOak, cherry, spice, pineapple
FinishMedium, vanilla, apple
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toBuffalo Trace, Angel’s Envy

Nose is sweet and fruity, with hints of apple, a scent that reminds of fruit cocktail cherries in pineapple juice and a soft hit of rye spice.

On the palate, Basil Hayden’s (Similar Bourbons) feels thin and watered-down lacking in texture. Flavor is oak up-front, soaked grains and moves to sweet cherry in the middle.

You also get a the roasted peanut note you get in every whiskey crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery. This peanut note is present in the Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Booker’s and even in the Old Grand Dad and the Old Crow!

Don’t know if this peanut note is by design or by accident but is the common theme across Jim Beam bottles.

The finish is short and unremarkable with more apple and pineapple hints, along some rye spice to it and just a little heat that you feel on the way down.

Overall, the Basil Hayden’s is a smooth and well balanced bourbon where the rich rye presence in the mash doesn’t feel.

It lacks body as it feels thin, the finish is quite short and the low proof doesn’t help its cause.

In summary, the Basil Hayden’s looks better than how it tastes as I find it underwhelming for a bourbon at this price.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Basil Hayden’s:

  • The current mash bill is 63% corn, 27% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • It does not carry an age statement.
  • This brand was introduced in 1992 and is named to honor Basil Hayden, the distiller that went against the grain by adding rye to the mash bill. He’s the man on the label of Old Grand Dad Bourbon.

Knob Creek 9 Year

NoseCherry, vanilla, caramel, rye spice, oak
PalateVanilla, oak, cherry, chocolate, peanuts
FinishLong, vanilla, banana, baking spices
Alcohol content100 proof (50% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water, rocks
Similar toBulleit Bourbon, Wild Turkey 101

Nose brings cherry up-front, followed by vanilla, caramel, oak and and a spicy note from the rye.

On the palate the Knob Creek offers a thick texture showing a creamy body.

First sip feels pleasantly warm with more vanilla and oak, along chocolate, a cherry note and the aforementioned peanut note.

The finish is long and warming and supremely drinkable at 100 proof and has plenty to appreciate.

Knob Creek is amazingly solid without any off-notes, with a thick creamy body that you can almost chew.

Knob Creek (Similar Bourbons) is bottled at 100 proof, making it a high proof spirit, but it goes down nicely as there is no harshness or bad bite in this bourbon. I can’t recommend it enough.

The best way of drinking the Knob Creek is neat or straight. If you want to make it more tasty add a few drops of water allowing rich floral notes to emerge while making it more enjoyable.

I’m not so fond of using the Knob Creek to make cocktails as I prefer something more spicy to make cocktails.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Knob Creek:

  • It was originally launched in 1992 as part of Jim Beam Small Batch Collection with a 9 year age statement.
  • The age statement was removed in 2016 but made a comeback in April 2020.
  • Knob Creek ages in white oak barrels with the maximum possible char.
  • The mash bill is made from 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley; Jim Beam uses the same mashbill.
  • Knob Creek Bourbon was created by Booker Noe, who after joining Jim Beam in 1950 was promoted to Master Distiller just ten years later.
  • It is named for small water source in Kentucky close to where Abraham Lincoln grew up, it is said that the creek nearly claimed his life when he was swimming.
  • Knob Creek is part of Jim Beam which belongs to Beam Suntory a Japanese drinks giant.

What do Basil Hayden’s and Knob Creek have in common?

Crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery

They both have the peanut note that you find in all whiskeys crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery. No matter if it’s the cheap Jim Beam White Label, or the premium releases, they all share the same peanut note.

I’m yet to know if the peanut note is by design or by accident but it’s the common a feature across every Jim Beam offspring.

Are Basil Hayden’s and Knob Creek the same bourbon?

The difference lies in the mash

No, these bourbons are crafted using mash bills and go through different barrel management making them quite different.

Basil Hayden’s has a mash high in rye (27%), while the Knob Creek uses the same mash bill as the Jim Beam White Label which is low in rye (13%).

Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon$46
Knob Creek 9 Year$38

Basil Hayden’s vs Knob Creek: Which is better?

Knob Creek is a more satisfying bourbon

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sKnob Creek
  • The Knob Creek is better than the Basil Hayden’s by a fair margin. The Knob Creek is more flavorful, has a creamy body, has a high proof that does not drink as such and a long finish making in entirely satisfying.
  • Basil Hayden’s has a good flavor and is overly smooth, but lacks body, proof and and a proper finish. Those are 3 things that you expect from a good bourbon at this price and the Basil Hayden’s fails miserably.
  • I consider Basil Hayden’s one of the most overrated and underwhelming bourbons.

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