The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 93 of 124

january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  93 B ourbon, an American classic that fell on hard times in the mid-'90s, is no longer down on its luck. The spirit's sales now exceed 20 million cases annually and ultra-premium bourbon, up by 141 percent since 2010, is the category's fastest- rising star. With distilleries running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producers like Beam Suntory—which completed a new seven-story rackhouse in Frankfort, Kentucky, in late 2016—are riding a wave of expansion intended to keep supply running well ahead of rising demand. According to the company's Master Distiller Frederick Booker Noe III, Beam has more warehouses on the way and plans to boost production of Jim Beam and its small-batch labels—Knob Creek, Baker's, Basil Hayden's, and the eponymous Booker's—by 20 percent. That's good news for both bourbon drinkers and Noe, who by all accounts is a living legend. Under his dogged, visionary direction, Beam marked a milestone in 2017 as Knob Creek celebrated its 25th anniversary. Launched at a point when the category itself had lost momentum, Knob Creek is a testament to both tradition and patience, and you'll find those qualities demonstrated in its very-limited anniversary release. True Single Barrel For those who enjoy the rarity and expression of single cask bourbon, Noe has hit a high-water mark with Knob Creek's anniversary release (SRP $130). It trades a consistent flavor profile—once the hallmark of the distillery—for an approach that ups the nuance while leveraging generations of distilling know-how. "One hundred percent of the color and 70 percent of the flavor of these beauties AIN'T NO RULES VISIONARY DISTILLER FRED NOE CELEBRATES KNOB CREEK'S ANNIVERSARY RELEASE by Deborah Parker Wong and Mara Marski Kentuy IN Knob Creek's newest expression is a single cask celebration of the brand's 25th anniversary. PHOTO: HARDY WILSON

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