Bulleit Bourbon vs Knob Creek: Full Comparison (2023)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Bulleit and Knob Creek are highly respected bourbon brands with a serious cult following. Any run-of-the-mill bourbon drinker will taste both bourbons and think they offer something unique and special.

But in a battle of Bulleit Bourbon vs Knob Creek, which one will ultimately emerge as the victor?  

Knob Creek & Bulleit Bourbon In-Depth Comparison 

Knob Creek

Knob Creek is one of the small-batch labels from Jim Beam and was founded by legendary Master Distiller Booker Noe in 1992.

Today, the brand is heralded by his great-grandson, Fred Noe. 

This drink is well-known for its gorgeous flavor profile. Our favorite bottle is the brand’s 9-year-old straight bourbon: a well-aged whiskey rife with sweet notes of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak. 

On the other hand, Bulleit bourbon was founded in the 1800s.

The brand is synonymous with having the best rye whiskey out in the bourbon market, with big, spicy flavors and an equally spicy finish. 

Main Differences 

Main Differences 


Bulleit bourbon has a long, albeit mysterious, history. It was founded by Augustus Bulleit in 1830, who created a bourbon with a mash bill of 66 percent rye and 33 percent corn.

Proud of what he came up with, he traveled to New Orleans to peddle his creation… and was never seen or heard from again. 

In 1987, his great-grandson Thomas Bulleit decided to revive what Augustus had started with just a bit of tweaking to fit bourbon regulations. The new Bulleit bourbon was well-received by the masses — even more than the original recipe! 

On the other hand, Knob Creek bourbons may not have as mysterious as Bulleit’s history in the whiskey world, but the man behind it is pretty reputable in the industry. 

Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s former Master Distiller, heralded the brand and introduced it as part of the small-batch collection. This release revolutionized how the world saw bourbon. 

How It’s Made

Jim Beam Distillery

Knob Creek bourbon is distilled at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.

Their blends used to be made exclusively of barrels aged at least nine years, but it is now made from a blend of younger and older whiskeys

On the other hand, Bulleit is produced in the newly-erected Bulleit Distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Before 2017, the spirit was distilled in Diageo distilleries. The bourbon is made with a unique blend of grains and limestone-rich Kentucky water. 

Mash Bill

Bulleit uses a high rye mash bill consisting of 68 percent corn, 4 percent malted barley, and a whopping 28 percent rye. The grains give the spirit a distinctly spicy palate. 

Knob Creek straight bourbon comprises 75 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and 13 percent rye. It has a sweet palate. 

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Knob Creek 18 Years Old

Knob Creek straight bourbon used to have an age statement. However, they combine whiskeys aged inside charred oak barrels for nine years with younger juices. It is bottled at 100 proof. 

On the other hand, Bulleit bourbon does not have an age statement.

As per bourbon regulations, we can assume that it’s aged at least four years in charred oak barrels before it is bottled at 90 proof. 

Ownership & Distillery

Bulleit bourbon was purchased by spirits giant Diageo in 2001. Diageo is the largest spirits producer worldwide. 

Knob Creek bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s small-batch labels. Jim Beam was purchased by Japanese spirits brand Suntory in 2013 [1]. 

Spice Level

Bulleit Bourbon 10 Years Old

Bulleit uses plenty of rye grain and is definitely spicier than most whiskeys, including Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve bourbon, Wild Turkey, Maker’s Mark, and Buffalo Trace

Cocktail & Mixers

We prefer using spicy bourbons in cocktails, which makes Bulleit the obvious choice. Bulleit will add interesting layers to all cocktails. 

Conversely, we prefer sipping Knob Creek’s complex flavors neat or with some ice cubes. We find that using it as a cocktail mixer wouldn’t do justice to its flavor and depth. 

Tasting Notes 

Tasting Notes 

Bulleit Bourbon

  • Palate: Medium-bodied mouthfeel. As the whiskey develops, you’ll get distinct spicy rye and dried fruit flavors.
  • Nose: Nutty and spicy on the nose, with cinnamon, almond, and oak notes.
  • Color: Light russet color.
  • Finish: The spicy trend continues in its medium-length finish. 

Knob Creek

  • Palate: Knob Creek offers a traditional flavor profile, with lingering notes of sweet caramel, vanilla, maple syrup, toasted oak, and a buttery mouthfeel. 
  • Nose: This American whiskey has a sweet vanilla aroma. 
  • Color: The spirit has a dark gold color. 
  • Finish: It has a long finish, rife with sweet vanilla and black pepper notes. 

Price Point & Value 

Both brands are at the $30 to $40-ish price point, with Knob Creek slightly more expensive. 

Bulleit Bourbon & Knob Creek Common Prices

Bulleit Bourbon & Knob Creek Common Prices

Bourbon Size Proof Average Price
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750ml  100  Around $40 
Bulleit Bourbon 750ml  95  Around $35 

*Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.


Which is better for Manhattan, Knob Creek, or Bulleit?

Bulleit is the perfect bourbon for a Manhattan cocktail. Its potent rye spice will balance out the bittersweet profile of the bitters. This fantastic bourbon will also add an interesting layer of flavors to this classic cocktail drink. 

Which bourbon is better for sipping, Bulleit or Knob Creek?

Knob Creek is a better sipper than Bulleit bourbon. Despite its high 100 proof, this drink goes down smoothly with little to no burn. It also has interesting nuances in flavor that include sweet vanilla, dark chocolate, and deep notes of charred oak. 

Final Thoughts 

In the battle of Bulleit bourbon vs Knob Creek, we have to give this round to Knob Creek. Booker Noe was not kidding around when he launched the brand, and we’re glad they’ve lived up to its outstanding quality. 

This dram is hefty, nuanced, and chock-full of classic flavors that won’t leave you wanting anything else. 

However, this isn’t to say that Bulleit is a bad bottle — on the contrary, bourbon aficionados who favor spicy whiskeys will gravitate towards it more. It’s also a great cocktail mixer. 



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *