Beam Family master distiller Fred Noe, the seventh-generation bourbon maker whose mug graces every bottle of Jim Beam, isn't bringing any samples of the soon-to-be-released Knob Creek single barrel reserve to a pair of tastings in Addison this week. But Noe will no doubt be happy to chat about the newest addition to his distiller's small batch line.
Noe, who looks and talks the part of a Kentucky whiskey man, long ago revealed a special fondness for Bookers, which he calls his "dad's baby." Booker Noe wanted to make an uncut bourbon that recalled the days before bottling, when drinkers would fill their jugs directly from the barrel. He apparently wasn't put off by the higher proofs associated with unfiltered bourbons: His most famous quote, cited in many of his 2004 obituaries, was "A respectable amount of bourbon to pour in a glass is about two fingers' worth. Lucky for me, I have big fingers."
The new Knob Creek, set for release in January or February, picks up on the Booker's approach. While the single barrel reserve isn't an uncut bourbon, what happens in the barrel is of paramount importance when blemishes can't be disguised by blending. For the new spirit, distillers "determine which liquid has the flavor profile and color that speaks best," spokesman Dan Cohen explains.
"You know we've identified it as the best of the bunch," he adds.
Cohen describes the single barrel riff on Knob Creek -- which he's careful to characterize as "the number one selling super-premium bourbon in the world" -- as "bold and flavorful," with more of a "rich taste" than its lower-proof cousin.
Noe will be pouring other selections the distillery classifies as "small batch," which isn't exactly a precise term.
"There's no special quantity as far as the amount that's made," Cohen says. "It's small batch in the way it's handcrafted."
Beam extends the term to Knob Creek, Basil Hayden's, Bakers and Bookers; Noe will be available to sign bottles during his Thursday afternoon appearance at Sigel's in Addison and Friday afternoon appearance at Goody Goody in Addison.
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