Jim Beam's whiskey roster is deep. Between Devil's Cut, Black Extra-Aged, Double Barrel and the rest, there's at least 10 different Jim Beam variants (excluding flavored whiskeys). If you take Jim Beam to mean Beam-Suntory, the parent company with whiskey holdings across the globe, you can add the Maker's Mark catalog to the list and relative newcomer Legent, a bourbon with Japanese tendencies. Then there's Beam's Small Batch Collection, which includes the likes of Booker's, Baker's and Basil Hayden's; each brand has a number of sub-expressions of its own. Then we arrive at Knob Creek, perhaps the Beam bourbon with the deepest bench of bottles. There's the 9-year-0ld Small Batch and 12-year-old Small Batch, both of which are excellent, with the former earning our Best Overall Bourbon stamp. Then there's the Small Batch Rye, Single Barrel Rye, Twice Barreled Rye, bourbon finished in smoked maple barrels, bourbon aged for 15 years and more limited edition bottles. Knob Creek Single Barrel Select is better than all of them.
For about $50, you get everything. It's Knob Creek juice cut (barely) to a meaty 120 proof. It's non-chill filtered, too, when makes it richer and fattier on the tongue. It carries the classic Beam peanut funk notes on the nose, taste and finish as well. But because it's a single barrel product, there's a chance your local store's barrel has something special going on. All Single Barrel Select picks are aged a minimum of 9 years as well, which has become one of Beam's calling cards since the company reinstated the 9-year age statement on its standard Small Batch offering.
Dive into any hobby headfirst and you'll often find the path to understanding is circular. What you're fond of initially is quickly dismissed once you've started researching, and you're on to bigger and better (or just more expensive) things. In the bourbon world, this means trading out big-time brands and bottles that we can all find for limited releases or highly allocated bottles that make for better Instagram posts. A note from your future self: scoff at the Knob Creeks of the world all you want for now — you'll be back.