Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek: A Comparison of Premium Bourbons

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Both Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek are highly sought-after whiskeys known for their exceptional quality and flavor. They cater to the same discerning market, boasting similar price points and flavor profiles. In this article, we will delve into the nuances of Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek, exploring their distinctive characteristics in taste, distilling processes, and more. So, is Knob Creek superior to Woodford Reserve? Which one offers better value for money? Let’s find out!

Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek

Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek: A Brief History

Before we dive into the details of these bourbons, let’s first explore the origins of these two celebrated brands that have captured the hearts of bourbon enthusiasts worldwide.

Woodford Reserve History

Woodford Reserve is a relatively young whiskey brand, established in 1996 by the renowned Brown-Forman Corporation. However, the brand’s history is intertwined with the distillery and land it proudly occupies.

The Old Oscar Pepper distillery, founded by Elijah Pepper in 1838, serves as the foundation for Woodford Reserve. Over the years, this distillery experienced numerous renovations, changes in ownership, and even periods of abandonment. In 1993, the Brown-Forman Corporation repurchased the distillery and embarked on a mission to create exceptional whiskey. Woodford Reserve was officially introduced in 1996 and has since become a beloved bourbon. To learn more about Woodford’s connection to the community and the Kentucky Derby, click here.

Knob Creek History

Introduced in 1992, Knob Creek is slightly older than Woodford Reserve. It is one of the four small batch bourbons produced at the esteemed Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, KY. Similar to Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek enjoys the support of a prominent corporation, Beam Suntory.

Produced alongside other highly acclaimed small batch bourbons such as Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek has established itself as a top-tier whiskey brand.

Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek: An Overview

Now that we have explored their respective histories, let’s delve into the specific details of the whiskeys themselves. Below, we will compare the aging processes, alcohol by volume (ABV), mash bills, and other essential aspects that distinguish Woodford Reserve from Knob Creek.

Woodford Reserve Overview

  • Owned By: Brown-Forman
  • Distilled By: Woodford Reserve Distillery
  • Age Statement: NAS (minimum of 4 years, although it’s rumored to be 6-7 years)
  • ABV: 45.2%, 90.4 Proof
  • Mash bill: 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley

Knob Creek Overview

  • Owned By: Beam Suntory
  • Distilled By: Jim Beam Distillery / Knob Creek Distilling Co.
  • Age Statement: 9 Years
  • ABV: 50%, 100 Proof
  • Mash bill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley

Similarities & Differences

As you can see, there are notable differences between Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek, though they share subtle similarities. Knob Creek ages its whiskey for a couple of years longer, resulting in a higher proof. The mash bills are also similar, with the main distinction being Woodford’s higher rye content compared to Knob Creek.

Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek: Flavor Profiles

Arguably the most crucial aspect of our comparison lies in the flavor profiles of Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek. What sets them apart? What are their distinctive tastes? Which one reigns supreme? Let’s explore.

Woodford Reserve Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Oak, tobacco, honey, and vanilla
  • Taste: A harmonious blend of sweet honey, vanilla, and rye spice. Well-balanced.
  • Finish: The finish reveals more spice and smoke than the initial nose and palate suggest. It boasts a medium to long, smooth finish.

Knob Creek Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Leather, caramel, vanilla, with hints of light nuttiness.
  • Taste: The nose carries over to the palate, with nutty flavors complemented by caramel and vanilla. Subtle pepper and delicate fruit undertones emerge.
  • Finish: A touch of heat and pepper emerges, typical of whiskeys reaching triple-digit proof. Nevertheless, it maintains a smooth quality. Add a splash of water or an ice cube to mellow it further.

Which is Better – Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve?

There is no definitive answer to this question as personal preferences play a significant role. Both whiskeys showcase a classic bourbon profile, and we appreciate both for what they offer. When savoring the whiskeys neat or on the rocks, we lean towards Woodford Reserve. Its smoother texture and higher rye content appeal to us. On the other hand, in mixed drinks, the stronger character of Knob Creek shines through.

Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek: Price Comparison

Price is a crucial factor in the decision-making process. We surveyed Total Wine stores across the country to provide you with an average price range for both whiskeys. So, which is more affordable, Woodford Reserve or Knob Creek?

  • Woodford Reserve 750ml: $28-33
  • Knob Creek 750ml: $27-32
  • Woodford Reserve 1.75L: $54-60
  • Knob Creek 1.75L: $55-61

As you can see, there is minimal price difference between Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek. Individual stores and locations may vary slightly, but both are generally available for around $30 for a 750ml bottle and $55-60 for a larger 1.75L bottle.


Both Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek offer excellent value for money. With comparable flavor profiles, quality, and pricing, choosing between the two largely depends on your personal preferences. Whether you’re treating yourself, hosting a gathering, or seeking the perfect gift, you can’t go wrong with either option. These bourbons occupy the mid-shelf range and are readily accessible at liquor stores nationwide.

Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek: A Final Verdict

Both Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek are exceptional bourbons that exemplify quality and craftsmanship. While they may not possess the distinctiveness often found in craft whiskeys, they remain highly regarded and widely favored among bourbon enthusiasts. Their reasonable price points and broad availability contribute to their consistent success in the bourbon market.

Here at Ambassadeur Hotel, we enjoy savoring Woodford Reserve on the rocks, relishing its smoothness, and appreciating its higher rye content. However, when it comes to mixed drinks and cocktails, Knob Creek’s robust character stands out. Both brands offer a range of selections, including the delightful Knob Creek Rye. Don’t hesitate to explore the offerings of these renowned whiskey brands, as they consistently deliver exceptional quality across their lineup.

Comparing Woodford Reserve vs Knob Creek is akin to contrasting light beers such as Miller Lite vs Michelob Ultra. The similarities are profound, leaving much room for marketing, tradition, personal habits, and preferences to influence one’s choice. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of either Woodford Reserve or Knob Creek. Visit Ambassadeur Hotel to learn more. And for an in-depth review of Knob Creek 12 Year Cask Strength, be sure to check out our comprehensive review.

Note: This article is written in partnership with Ambassadeur Hotel.