• October 6, 2018

Knob Creek Barrel Pick

Rachel Woodall shares her experience on our exciting Knob Creek barrel pick opportunity in October 2018, partnering with Wine+Market, at Jim Beam Distillery.

[Image: Our team for the Knob Creek barrel pick at Jim Beam]

In October of 2018, a small group of us gathered on a sunny Thursday morning for a special barrel pick. I was one of the privileged who was selected to go on this barrel pick of Knob Creek Rye. Lexington Bourbon Society partnered with Wine+Market to select a delicious barrel to share with family and friends.

For those of you who don't know, Knob Creek is a product of Jim Beam, and it has been one of my go-to rye whiskeys for quite some time. So, it goes without saying that this was a very exciting opportunity I got to be part of.

Jim Beam is located in Clermont, KY about 1.5 hours from Lexington, and a short 30 minutes from Louisville. When arriving, you first notice how large the facility actually is. Once inside the visitor's center (one of the best I've seen), you begin to understand just how large of an operation it really is, from showcasing their collection of different products, to two entire floors of swag and gifts.

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[Photo: Jim Beam American Stillhouse]

As for barrel pick process at Jim Beam, it was unforgettable and consisted of a team of diverse, yet refined, palettes. Lexington Bourbon Society teamed up with Wine+Market's owner Seth Brewer, his wife, and their family. Together, we took a little car ride directly to where the barrels were stored. Upon entering the warehouse, the selection was all already lined up and ready to taste. Because this was my first barrel pick, I was unsure of how Jim Beam was going to conduct their tasting. Prior to this experience, I had been told each distillery does it slightly differently.

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[Photo: Warehouse at Jim Beam]

For Jim Beam's process, we were at stations with glasses, pens and paper for taking notes, and extra glasses for water to sip between tastings. (The water is also helpful for diluting the proof and getting to the "core" taste of a particular barrel.) We were given three barrels to try: A, B, and C. We each did our own tasting, wrote notes, and followed with discussion. (We all agreed that the discussion should not start until you have decided which barrel you were going to vote on...so that you do not sway your neighbor.)

When it came time to vote, our three LBS members were in unanimous agreement with Barrel A. The Wine+Market team were split with B being their favorite and A their second favorite. Our team wanted to be fair and consider all the factors. On these picks, it is important to pick one that you like, but also one that others will like as well. So, Seth stepped in and helped the team settle on Barrel A.

Once our group had decided on the rye barrel, I was not sure if this was the end of the experience. And indeed, it was not over! Seth had an ace up his sleeve...

Not only would we be tasting Knob Creek Rye for the Lexington Bourbon Society/Wine+Market split, we would also be picking a Knob Creek Bourbon for Wine+Market. How exciting was this surprise! We did the same process for the bourbon as we did the rye, and when it came time to vote, it was unanimous between both parties to pick Barrel B.

After completing the two picks, we went to Fred's Smokehouse located on the Jim Beam property, and had a fantastic lunch. I had a pulled pork sandwich, but many in our group ordered the Kentucky Tacos and boy did those look delicious!

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[Photo: Fred's Smokehouse]

Once our team finished up with lunch, we were told that the bourbon barrel was ready to dump! We were grateful that we had participated in the bourbon pick, because the rye barrel dump was unavailable to see during our visit.

So, after traveling to the designated dumping station, our team watched the entire barrel pour over a charcoal-filled trough. Every single barrel that comes out of Jim Beam was processed the same way. And it looked and smelled delicious!

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[Photo: Knob Creek Bourbon Barrel Dump]

To finish the process, we arrived at the bottling house, and watch them bottle the barrel of Knob Creek Bourbon. We were each invited to individually wash out one bottle per person, and then follow it along the assembly line until it was boxed. Our group also took turns boxing the bottles.

Overall, our experience at Jim Beam was exciting and personalized. We not only watched, but got to participate too! At the end, we were informed that the Knob Creek Bourbon would be available to purchase before the end of the year. This delicious product will be available at Wine+Market for your drinking enjoyment soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.

As for the Knob Creek Rye, our barrel will be available between January and February of 2019. For our Lexington Bourbon Society members, keep an eye out for news and upcoming pre-order opportunities. For non-members, what are you waiting for? Learn more about our membership or simply join today!

ABOUT THE AUTHORRachel Woodall is a Lexington Bourbon Society board member and advocate. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky.