If you’re a whiskey drinker, you are probably used to age statements disappearing from bottles over the past few years. Brands often attribute the reasons for this to increased demand leading to diminished stock to pull from. While there is some truth to this, it is also saves a distillery money to be able to blend younger barrels into a product and not have to wait as long to release it. But the other thing you should know as a whiskey fan is that age doesn’t always matter; just because a whiskey is old does not necessarily mean it’s good. While consumers have been disappointed by the removal of age statements (which signify the youngest liquid in the blend), it’s safe to say many people would likely not be able to tell the difference between the NAS and age statement versions in a blind taste test. That being said, it’s understandable to feel like you are losing out on something when a bottle loses its age statement, both in terms of flavor and brand transparency.
However, some whiskey brands have been adding back age statements to beloved bottles over the past few years, much to the delight of longtime fans. The latest is Knob Creek, part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection. Back in 2016, the brand’s flagship Kentucky Straight Bourbon lost its 9-year-old age statement, which Beam said was due to a lack of inventory. “We had an imbalance in aging stocks a few years ago that prompted us to remove the age statement temporarily,” said master distiller Fred Noe, “so I could mingle barrels both older than nine years and slightly younger to achieve our consistent, full-flavored taste … and meet the high demand from our fans. Now that our stocks are balanced out around the nine-year mark, I wanted to get that age statement back on there as soon as possible.”
So now Knob Creek has returned to its age statement glory, and in further good news the price will remain the same at $34.99. So will this make a difference? The only way to tell is to try the two side by side (blind, preferably) for yourself and see what you think. But that’s not all. Knob Creek is also adding a 12-year-old expression, previously released in 2019 as a limited edition offering, to the core permanent lineup. According to the brand, the barrels for this release were aged “in the center cut of Knob Creek rackhouses, ensuring the most consistent environment for the bourbon to patiently age in charred, American white oak casks for 12 long years before being bottled at 100 proof.” This whiskey will, of course, be priced higher at $59.99.
“I don’t know of many other brands that have brought back an age statement, but I’m proud to do it,” said Noe. “When Dad created Knob Creek, he did so to restore the quality standards and robust, full flavor that defined pre-Prohibition whiskey. Achieving that vision is about much more than just a number. But that nine on the bottle is our way of honoring Dad’s vision and showing our fans that when we say we make our bourbon without shortcuts, we mean it.” Both whiskeys are now available nationwide.
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