The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 94 of 124

94  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2018 NEW RELEASES comes from the barrel," says Noe, hold- ing aloft a pour for inspection. When Noe and his dedicated team combed the rackhouses for this commemorative release, they personally selected 300 extra-aged barrels that would yield the best representation of the Knob Creek tradition: big, bold flavor, nice aroma, and a long finish. With proofs that vary by the bottle from a whopping 120–125, these single cask bottlings are as individualistic as the barrels that birthed them. Aged for 12–13 years, Knob Creek's 25th Anniversary bourbon is about as close to vintage variation as a spirit can get. After the angels had taken their share, Noe discovered that each barrel held far less of the precious liquid than a standard Knob Creek barrel: "the biggest and boldest Knob Creek bourbon ever bottled." Packaged as six bottles per case, all of which come from a single barrel, there are dozens of different expressions on the market. According to Noe, nine of the 300 bar- rels are destined for the San Francisco Bay Area. "No Rules" Noe Well known for his "no rules" philosophy, Noe gives Knob Creek fans a license to enjoy the product in any manner they see fit. "The flavors of higher-proof bourbon aren't shy; they're not going to disappear if you add water or ice," he says. This message especially resonates with a generation of bourbon enthu- siasts whose enjoyment is driven by discovery. The category has on-prem- ise growth to thank for the revival that began showing signs of life about a decade ago—a comeback that's now reached fever pitch. "The world market is clamoring for the stuff," says Noe, who spotted Knob Creek retailing for $200 a bottle during a recent visit to Australia. As a category, bourbon dexterously facilitates premiumization. When quality exceeds expectations for value, as it does in the case of small-batch products like Beam's Basil Hayden's (SRP $40), there's little hesitation on the part of the consumer to trade up within the portfolio. That may in fact be the only option for consumers when inventories run low, but it often has the reverse effect on producers by Fred Noe leads a group of Bay Area bartenders through a tasting of the Knob Creek 25th Anniversary expression. Beam Suntory West Coast American Whiskey Ambassador Megan Breier joined Fred Noe to celebrate the release of the anniversary expression. Los Angeles area bartenders Anthony Kaufman, Mick Lambuth, and Marsha Meyer inspect their whiskies following Fred Noe's discussion about his rules of tasting. PHOTO: HARDY WILSON PHOTO: HARDY WILSON PHOTO: KELLY BALCH

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