Liquor Laboratory

Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve Bourbon Compared (2024)

Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve

Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve are two popular bourbon brands that greatly appeal to the bourbon market because of their amazing flavor profiles and modest price points. 

In this post about Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve, we will not just compare the two brands with their price point, history, and brand reputation.

We will also talk about how the mash bill, aging, and production process impact the taste of their flagship whiskeys. Read on.  

Comparing Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve Bourbons 

bottles of Woodford Reserve & Knob Creek Bourbons

Knob Creek was first released in 1992 as part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection by Booker Noe, while Woodford Reserve was first introduced in the market in 1996.

Knob Creek bourbon is aged longer and boasts higher alcohol content than Woodford Reserve bourbon

Knob Creek is distilled in Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont and is owned by Beam Suntory, a Japanese multinational company. On the other hand, Woodford Reserve is distilled in Woodford Reserve Distillery, and Brown-Forman Corporation owns it.  

How They Differ 

History & Origin

Knob Creek was released in 1992 as one of Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, pioneered by Master Distiller Booker Noe.

It did have an age statement when it was originally released in 1992, was removed in 2016, and made a comeback in 2020. 

Woodford Reserve was launched in 1996 by Brown-Forman, but it has a rich history that started way back in 1812.

The distillery where the Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey is produced has been operating since 1812 and is considered a National Historic Landmark. 

Distillation & Production

Woodford Reserve uses a combination of column and copper pot still distillate to distill the bourbon whiskey.

After twice distillation, it is aged in new charred oak barrels for a more refined and bold flavor profile. 

Knob Creek is produced in small batches and is part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection. It is a blend of a small number of chosen barrels.

In addition, it was pioneered by Booker Noe and Master Distiller Fred Noe continues the legacy. 


oak barrels on a room storage

In Knob Creek vs Woodford Reserve maturation, Knob Creek gets the upper hand because it is aged longer than Woodford Reserve.

Aging in newly charred oak barrels imparts flavor profile and appearance to the bourbon whiskey [1].

In addition, Knob Creek bears an age statement, while Woodford Reserve does not. Knob Creek is aged for nine years, while Woodford Reserve is aged for an average of seven years.

Woodford uses unique heat-cycled warehouses to mature the bourbon whiskey. 

An age statement is voluntary on bourbons aged four years and above, but you may come across some Knob Creek without an age statement.

They had production issues, so they removed the nine-year-old age statement [2]. However, in April 2020, they decided to put it back. 

Mash Bills & Alcohol Proof

Knob Creek Small batch bourbon whiskey uses 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley on its mash bill.

On the contrary, Woodford Reserve Kentucky straight bourbon features 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley on its mash bill.  

Knob Creek boasts higher alcohol proof because it is bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV), while Woodford Reserve bears 90.4 proof (45.2% ABV).

Bourbon drinkers will agree that Woodford Reserve is a great everyday bourbon because it is a smooth, clean, and versatile spirit. 

Tasting Notes

bottle of  Knob Creek Whiskey

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Palate: Nutty flavors, vanilla, black pepper, light fruit, and caramel notes

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, leather, floral notes

Color: Light amber

Finish: Intense heat, peppery, long, and lingering notes of caramel and vanilla

Woodford Reserve

Palate: Vanilla blend, sweet honey, and fairly balanced with rye spice

Nose: Tobacco, honey, oak, maple syrup, and vanilla 

Color: Golden amber

Finish: Medium to long, smooth with rich spice and smoke 

How It’s Served

Woodford Reserve is one of many bourbons best consumed neat and on the rocks. On the other hand, Knob Creek is best served as a base liquor for mixed drinks. 

Woodford is pleasant on the nose with nice honeyed and mint notes. It is sweet and spicy on the palate, and you will appreciate its taste when you consume it neat or on the rocks. 

Knob Creek is a versatile spirit; you can consume it neat, on the rocks, or as a cocktail. It has a great charred oak note and a strong dark chocolate flavor profile that is hard to pass.  

Woodford Reserve can elevate a mixed drink because it has rich rye spice, but since Knob Creek is bolder and contains higher alcohol content, it can stand out easily in cocktail drinks. 

Ownership & Distillery

Knob Creek is a flagship bourbon of Knob Creek, produced in the Jim Beam Distillery.

The bourbon brand is one of the brands owned by Beam Suntory, and it is one of the four small-batch bourbons of their Beam Collection. 

Woodford Reserve is produced in the Woodford Reserve Distillery, formerly known as Old Oscar Pepper Distillery.

Elijah Pepper founded it in 1838, and Brown Forman purchased it again in 1993. Brown Forman is a similar company that owns Jack Daniel’s

Brand Reputation/Popularity

Woodford Reserve bottles and a glass on  a wooden table

Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve are two of the most popular bourbons in the market today.

They both have established a great reputation, but Woodford Reserve is more popular because it is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby

Knob Creek is also a great American whiskey; whiskey fans loved the tasting notes of the spirit.

It has won several awards like other bourbon brands like Old Forester, Old Grand Dad, Maker’s Mark, and Basil Hayden’s.   

Price Point & Value

Knob Creek is cheaper than Woodford because Woodford Reserve costs around $39.99 in Drizly, while Knob Creek costs roughly $37.99 per 750ml bottle.

Both are mid-shelf bourbons and can be your everyday bourbon since you can easily find them in many local liquor stores. 


Is Knob Creek spicier than Woodford Reserve bourbon?

No, Knob Creek is not spicier than Woodford Reserve bourbon. Woodford Reserve is spicier than Knob Creek because it has higher rye content. Knob Creek has a nice balance of sweetness and spiciness.  

Which is smoother, Woodford Reserve or Knob Creek bourbon?

Knob Creek bourbon is smoother than Woodford Reserve. It has a thick texture, pleasant warmth with nice tasting notes, and a smoother flavor profile which makes it easier and enjoyable to drink. 

Can you easily buy Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek bourbons?

Yes, you can easily buy Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek bourbons. Both bourbons are available in online retailers, and you can find them in different liquor stores and groceries like Costco. You can also check out their Knob Creek rye and Single Barrel Reserve. 

How does the taste of Knob Creek differ from Woodford Reserve?

Knob Creek tends to have a robust and full-bodied flavor with strong notes of oak, caramel, and spice, while Woodford Reserve offers a smoother and more refined taste with hints of vanilla, fruit, and toasted oak.

Which bourbon is better for sipping neat?

Both Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve are excellent choices for sipping neat, but it ultimately depends on personal preference. Knob Creek’s bold flavor may appeal to those who enjoy a more intense bourbon experience, while Woodford Reserve’s smoother profile may be preferred by those seeking a gentler sip.

Can I use Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve interchangeably in cocktails?

Yes, Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve can be used interchangeably in cocktails, but keep in mind that their distinct flavor profiles may influence the overall taste of the drink.

Which bourbon is more affordable, Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve?

Generally, Knob Creek is often priced slightly lower than Woodford Reserve, but prices can vary depending on location and retailer.

Final Verdict

After careful deliberation and blind tasting, Knob Creek is the better bourbon whiskey. It has a nice balance of spiciness and sweetness.

It is fairly priced, and while it does contain higher proof, it is smoother, more versatile, and deeper because of its mash bill and aging process. 

Woodford Reserve tasting notes are great. However, it tends to be spicier and thinner. It can be consumed neat and on the rocks, but when it comes to cocktails, Knob Creek fits the bill.


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