Interesting idea, but heavy handed execution. More of a dessert flavoring than a drink, if a high quality one.
Notes: This is another line extension/variation on the by now almost venerable Knob Creek bourbon whiskey line but their first foray into a flavored line extension. Among one of the first premium bourbons lines brought out back in the 1980’s (among with Basil Hayden, Bakers, Bookers and in the Bourbon Collection) , Knob Creek also has their Knob Single Barrel Reserve , Knob Creek Rye Whiskey and of course the original Knob Creek. Knob Creek is owned by Jim Beam Brands and other reviews of some of their products can be found here. While there have been a number of other maple flavored whiskies on the market lately this is the first smoked maple we have come across.
Appearance: Golden wheat colored , yellow with not a lot of red at all (hallmark of older whiskey).On swirling it leaves a light edge line with some legs forming. No separation of ingredients is noted, but edge line is strangely unmoving ( not sliding down like most whiskies).
First Impression: First out of the gate is the maple smell, followed by smoke, oak, vanilla, leather, cinnamon nutmeg and fired fruit notes with other spicy notes and the alcohol is pushed into the background over this potpourri of scents.
Taste: Rather thick, almost syrupy entry art first with a wallop of maple sugar followed quickly by a maple smoke, char, vanilla then whiskey notes with a drying, then sweetening woody finish and a long lingering finish of maple syrup sweetness rather overpowering the bourbon.While not bad, I find it a bit overdone, too sweet and a smoky,candified expression of a otherwise decent bourbon.
Drinks: Try a small amount in a good glass by itself to explore the flavors as it is rather complicated, but beyond that I can’t recommend drinking it straight. To me it was far too sweet and aggressive in most drinks we tried but I imagine the younger crowd would probably love it in some overly sweet cocktails. I did find and try a lovely Great Glazed Ham Recipe in which it worked well. Actually I see using this more as a barbeque sauce, meat or vegatable glaze, or used as maybe something to bake or glaze a pie with rather than drinking for the most part.
Bottle: Standard square flask shaped Knob Creek bottle of clear glass. Clearly labeled as Smoked Maple on lower half of label ( which contains an upside down except of a 1935 Knob Creek newspaper as background). The bottle also sports a slightly odd side to back label Black wax neck wrap and cork closure is relatively easy-to-open compared to some wax seals.
Other: For the sake of classification we put this one under American Whiskey because it is flavored.Under US laws and standards of definition if this whiskey did not contain ADDED natural flavors ( or anything else) it would be considered a bourbon.
Final Thoughts: Too much maple and smoke and too little bourbon really. While a nice flavoring for a lot of foods, it’s not something I would use in a cocktail.That being said it would probably do well in a fern bar or similar place with a younger clientele who likes cocktail that are overly sweet. At $35 I think it is a reach – I would much rather have a bottle of plain Knob Creek and flavor my drink myself – it’s called a cocktail by the way – rather than commit that kind of money to something that is not nearly as useful and has a somewhat narrow application at least among mature whiskey drinkers – who are probably not the target audience. I think maybe this is an attempt by Knob Creek to make a whiskey that is more approachable to younger drinkers to get them started as customers, and in that sense it should work well, but otherwise I think this whiskey falls short for someone looking for a new whiskey to try.
Some information and tasting notes, but fairly shallow site altogether.