Thursday, August 9, 2007

Last Night's Tipple

I wrote about Knob Creek yesterday. As you know, Knob Creek is a Jim Beam product, and, as such, it has many brothers. Putting aside the Beam Bourbons made from the rye-heavy Old Grand-Dad mashbill (Old Grand-Dad 86, 100, and 114 and Basil Hayden's) and the younger Bourbons that really aren't in Knob Creek's class (Jim Beam White Label, Old Crow, Old Taylor, etc.), its closest relatives are Jim Beam Black Label (8 years old, 86 proof), Baker's (7 years old, 107 proof), and Booker's (no age stated -- probably 6 to 8 years old, barrel proof -- around 125 proof). I have Baker's and Jim Beam Black. For the sake of comparison, I decided to taste Baker's again last night.

Jim Beam uses only two mashbills for their Bourbons: the aforementioned rye-heavy Old Grand-Dad mashbill, and the standard one. I have read speculation that they have two different yeast strains, though, one of which they use for Knob Creek and Baker's and a few other odds and ends, the other that they use for everything else. If this is true, then, Knob Creek and Baker's are doubly brothers and are especially good to compare. If not, well, blame the rumor-mongers, not me.

In any case, it is obvious that Baker's is a near relative to Knob Creek. At least, it is obvious when I had Baker's knowing full well what it was and how it was related to Knob Creek. To me, the similarity is primarily obvious on the palate: Baker's has that same orange-y, woody character that I noted yesterday about Knob Creek. The nose is very different, though: I think that the reason I liked this from the first glass where I didn't like Knob Creek so much is that Baker's smells like dessert and Knob Creek does not. Baker's has the creme brulee/cinnamon bread pudding overtones that I really like. It also has a more unctuous mouthfeel than does Knob Creek. I suppose that this is partially due to Baker's higher alcohol content, but I wouldn't have supposed that an extra 7 proof would have made that much difference. Another difference: despite the fact that Baker's is two years younger than Knob Creek, it tastes older to me. I continue to like it, and I will probably buy it again when my bottle is dead.

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