Master Distiller Fred Noe (seventh generation distiller and great grandson of Jim Beam) ensures that the best barrels in the Claremont, Kentucky distillery don’t get lost in a blend; instead, superior barrels are hand-selected to be bottled at nine years for this Single Barrel Reserve. The result is a super-premium, natural spirit with strong vanilla notes and a deep, smoky finish. It’s easy to sip and holds its own in a cocktail — and packs an unexpected punch at 120 proof.

Bourbon itself is a pretty manly libation.  Ratchet the proof up to 120 – 60% alcohol – and you’re in punch in the face territory. Being discerning drinkers, we care about more than just alcohol content.  No one wants to sit back with a glass of everclear, right?

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve ($40) is the latest addition to Jim Beam’s small batch bourbon lineup. Unlike the original Knob Creek, which blends barrels before bottling to achieve consistency, the Single Barrel is just as the name states; whisky from a single barrel. Due to variances in the oak barrels themselves, temperature and other factors over the nine year aging process there might be small variance in each bottle of Knob Creek, meaning that your bottle might taste slightly different than ours.

That said, ours tastes oh so nice.  Fantastic really, especially given it’s proof.

The bourbon has intense aromas of vanilla and caramel, and considering its potent proof, it hides its alcohol really quite well. Mature, toasty oak, sweet vanilla and a slight nuttieness wash over your tong first and slowly transforms into a long, spicy finish.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is most definitely a bourbon worth enjoying on its own – I’d recommend drinking it clean – but there’s no shame in throwing in a couple ice cubes to cut the heat.