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Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

When it comes to bourbon, there are a lot of choices out there. But two of the most popular brands are Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve.

Both of these bourbons are highly regarded and are both known for having rich, smooth flavors. However, there are also some distinct differences between them that are important to know when discussing Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve.

History of Knob Creek

history of knob creek

Knob Creek bourbon whiskey is a premium spirit that has been produced in Clermont, Kentucky since the early 1990s.

The Knob Creek brand was originally created by Master distiller Fred Noe, great-grandson of Jim Beam. Knob Creek gets its name from a small creek that flows through the Beam family farm.

That creek was given its name by early settlers who thought its knob-like shape resembled that of a tree stump. Knob Creek bourbon is made using traditional recipes and is aged for nine years in new oak barrels.

This lengthy aging process gives the whiskey its rich flavor and amber color.

History of Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve is a small batch bourbon produced by the Brown-Forman Corporation. The distillery is located in Woodford County, Kentucky, and has been in operation since 1812.

The company produces approximately 9,000 barrels of bourbon per year, making it one of the smaller producers in the state. However, despite its size, Woodford Reserve has earned a reputation for producing high-quality bourbon.

The distillery uses traditional methods and sources its water from springs on the property.

In addition, the bourbon is aged in oak barrels for at least six years. As a result of these factors, Woodford Reserve is often considered to be one of the best bourbons available.

woodford reserve

Kentucky Derby

Woodford Reserve is also the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is one of America’s most iconic sporting events, and it has been associated with bourbon since the earliest days of the race.

In 1938, the race’s official drink became the mint julep, and it has been made with Woodford Reserve ever since.

The Kentucky-based distillery produces a special Derby Edition bourbon each year, which is aged in barrels that are charred with a horse symbol.

Knob Creek Tasting Notes

Knob Creek’s flagship bourbon is a great option for those who enjoy a sweeter whiskey. The dominant flavor is vanilla, which is complemented by light oak, green peppercorns, and caramel.

There is also a hint of creme brulee on the palate. This bourbon is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. It can also be used in cocktails, but the sweeter flavors may be overpowered by other ingredients.

Unlike many bourbons that are a blend of spirits from multiple barrels, Knob Creek is made using only spirits from a single barrel. This practice results in a higher degree of flavor consistency from bottle to bottle.

The 9-year age statement on the Knob Creek bottle guarantees that every drop of whiskey in the bottle has been aged for at least 9 years.

This lengthy aging process allows the whiskey to develop a rich, full flavor. In addition to the original Knob Creek bourbon, the line now includes a rye whiskey and a small batch bourbon finished in maple syrup barrels.

In recent years, Knob Creek has become one of the most popular bourbons on the market, and it has won numerous awards for its quality

Knob Creek Varieties

The Knob Creek brand offers four varieties for consumers, each with its own unique flavor profile.

The original Knob Creek bourbon is made with a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. It is bottled at 100 proof and has a rich, sweet flavor with notes of oak and vanilla.

Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey is made with a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. It is bottled at 100 proof and has a spicy flavor with notes of cloves and cinnamon.

The Smoked Maple Bourbon Whiskey by Knob Creek is made with a mash bill of 77% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted barley and bottled at 90 proof.

It is finished in new American oak barrels that have been smoked with maple wood. The result is a bourbon with a smoky flavor and hints of maple syrup.

Finally, the Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is made with the same mash bill as the original bourbon.

Woodford Reserve Tasting Notes

Woodford Reserve is made using a unique mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malt. This combination gives the bourbon a distinct flavor profile that is rich and complex.

On the nose, there are notes of honey and spice, leather, a touch of cocoa, a little smoke, toasty oak and vanilla cream with a hint of butterscotch.

On the palate, the bourbon is thick and full-bodied with notes of espresso beans, winter spice, cereal sweetness, plenty of rye, ground ginger, almond oil, toasty oak, and a little rum.

The finish is long and warming with lingering notes of sweet vanilla cream and toasty oak.

Woodford Reserve Varieties

Woodford Reserve is available in three expressions: original Bourbon, Distiller’s Select, and Double Oaked.

The original Bourbon is the most popular expression and is made with a mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley.

The Distiller’s Select is a higher-proof version of the original Bourbon and is made with the same mash bill.

The Double Oaked is a unique expression that is made by finishing the bourbon in a second new, charred oak barrel.

Woodford Reserve also produces two rye whiskeys: Rye and Kentucky Straight Rye. Both rye whiskeys are made with a mash bill of 53% rye, 33% corn, and 14% barley.

The Rye is aged for at least four years and has a proof of 90. The Kentucky Straight Rye is aged for at least six years and has a proof of 100.

what is bourbon

Differences Between Woodford Reserve

Knob Creek is known for its deep, complex flavor, while Woodford Reserve has a lighter, more delicate taste.

In terms of price, Knob Creek is usually slightly cheaper than Woodford Reserve. And in terms of appearance, Knob Creek bourbons tend to be darker in color than their Woodford Reserve counterparts.

Similarities Between Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek

Despite these differences, both bourbons are highly regarded by whiskey lovers all over the world and because of that, the two brands have a number of similarities.

Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek are two of the most popular bourbons on the market. Both brands have a long history and are made in small batches, using only the finest ingredients. As a result, both Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek are known for their smooth taste and rich flavor profile.

In addition, both brands age their bourbon in oak barrels for a minimum of seven years, which contributes to the overall quality of the finished product.


When it comes to mixing cocktails, bourbon is one of the most versatile liquors around. Since both Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve will work well in the same cocktails.

For a classic bourbon cocktail, try a Manhattan. This drink is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, and is often garnished with a cherry.

If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, try a Boulevardier which combines bourbon with Campari and sweet vermouth, and is often garnished with an orange peel.

Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve Final Thoughts

In the end, it all comes down to what you’re looking for in a bourbon If you want a bourbon with a smooth and smoky flavor, then Knob Creek is probably the better choice.

Whatever your preference, either of these bourbons could fit the bill.

About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a blogger for over 5 years, before that enjoying a number of jobs to fund her passion for travel. She's taught English as a foreign language, a part-time Barista, a waitress, and a tour guide.

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