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Knob Creek Single Barrel vs Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Knob Creek Single Barrel vs Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel in this in-depth comparison and decide which Bourbon is better for You!

Knob Creek 9 Year Single Barrel

knob-creek-single-barrel
NoseFruit, maple, caramel, vanilla, roasted nuts
PalateNuts, fruit, baking spice, vanilla, oak
FinishWarming, sweet and spicy, oak
Alcohol content120 proof (60% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water, rocks
Similar toJim Beam SB, Knob Creek 12, Rare Breed

I guess you already know that Knob Creek is crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery using the same mash bill as the regular Jim Beam.

The difference lies in Knob Creek’s offerings being aged for longer periods in highly charred oak barrels.

Nose is sweet, rich in maple syrup, vanilla and a bit of alcohol.

Palate kicks off with a buttery body and good heat on the tongue. Flavor is mostly sweet, with hints of nuts, baking spice, vanilla and oak.

It comes with the roasted peanut note that you get in every whiskey crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery.

The finish is long, rich in cinnamon and vanilla with a bit of oak spice.

The Knob Creek Single Barrel is a high proof bourbon that does not drink as such, rewarding you with pleasing warmth along sweetness well balanced against oak char. 

It drinks nicely neat yet a few drops of water bring brown sugar while tuning down the oak spice. It has a nice lasting finish making an entirely satisfying dram.

The 120 proof can be intimidating for some but believe me that this is supremely drinkable. One or two drops of water are enough to tune it down making it easier to drink.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Knob Creek Single Barrel:

  • Aged for at least 9 years.
  • Bottled from single casks, hand-picked based on their final age, rack placement and other proprietary methods.
  • The mash bill is comprised of 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley.
  • Won a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012.
  • Knob Creek, along Jim Beam, is owned by Japan-based Suntory Holdings.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Straight Bourbon

russells-reserve-single-barrel
NoseCherry, vanilla, brown sugar, oak
PalateFruity, baking spices, vanilla, charred oak
FinishLong, spicy, with notes of citrus and charred oak
Alcohol content110 proof (55% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water, rocks
Similar toBlanton’s Single Barrel, Russell’s 10

Russell’s Reserve is crafted by Wild Turkey using the mash bill and using the same highly charred barrels.

The difference lies in the casks are hand-picked by Jimmy and Eddie Russell exclusively from the center of Wild Turkey’s rickhouse, which they believe is the best area for maturing bourbon; not to mention a higher price.

The Single Barrel is made from the same mash as the Russell’s Reserve but does not provide an age statement.

The biggest difference lies in this bourbon being pulled from a single barrel, bottled at proof (no water dilution) and is not chill-filtered providing a more flavorful experience.

The nose is rich and complex, with a nice cherry note, along vanilla, brown sugar and charred oak.

The palate hits with an enjoyable fruity flavor, rich in baking spice, vanilla custard and charred oak with a creamy feel to it.

The finish stays with you nice and long, is tasty, pleasantly warm, rich in spice, orange zest and toasty oak.

The Single Barrel is similar to the 10 YO but better in every way as it displays more character and a richer flavor profile. The additional proof makes it warmer yet quite pleasing striking a very nice pour.

It drinks nicely neat yet a dash of water is enough to tame it down if you feel it a bit warm. Overall, the Single Barrel is not only an upgrade over the 10 YO but the Best Russell’s Bourbon to buy!

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Russell’s Single Barrel:

  • The Single Barrel is aged between 8 to 10 years in American oak casks that have been charred with a #4 char, also known as the Alligator Char.
  • Each bottle is filled from a single cask before being labeled by hand.

Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskeyPrice
Knob Creek 9 Year Single Barrel$50
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel$67

Knob Creek Single Barrel vs Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel: Which is better?

Russell’s is a safer bet as it’s smoother

WhiskeyKnob Creek Single BarrelRussell’s Single Barrel
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • There is no right answer as they are both quite good. Personally, I would take the Knob Creek over the Russell’s Reserve, but it feels a bit warmer which is a deal-breaker for most consumers.
  • Price gives the edge to the Knob Creek as it’s quite affordable for a single barrel at such proof.
  • The Russell’s Reserve is quite good, a better choice for consumers that want a tasty and yet easy drinker. This is still a high-proof pour but it drinks smoother than the Knob Creek.

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