The Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. opened its doors in 2013 in Galena, IL and is run by brothers Matt and Mike Blaum. Working from an ethos of taking their spirits – and not themselves – seriously Blaum Bros have made a proud name for themselves by sourcing great tasting whiskies, producing their own great spirits, and really not taking themselves too seriously. When I researched the distillery and their brands for this review I found that everything from the name of their products to their descriptions on their website depicts the brothers and their operation as one that likes a good drink and a good laugh.
Today I’m reviewing this Blaum Bros Oldfangled Knotter Bourbon barrel pick from Cork ‘N Bottle, in Crescent Springs, KY. This 11 year old bourbon was not made by Blaum Bros but instead sourced from MGP Indiana and bottled by Blaum Bros, a practice that has become commonplace for craft brands. What separates Blaum Bros from many others is that they provide an excellent example of where a craft brand has sourced aged whiskey stocks and make this as clear as possible to their fans. Everything from the name of the whiskey (Knotter – which sounds like ‘Not Our’), the creative letter highlighting on the label (‘NOT OUR’), and the clear statement of ‘The Oldest Straight Bourbon Whiskey We Never Distilled’ on the front label make this point clear whilst not taking away from the overall look of the bottle or label.
Name: Oldfangled Knotter Bourbon Single Barrel (Barrel #600)
Age: 11 years, 8 months, 22 days old (from doing the math on the pick info label)
Proof: 116.8 proof (58.4% ABV)
Type: NCF Cask Strength Straight Bourbon
Mashbill: Presumably the usual MGP high-rye bourbon mashbill of 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malt.
Producer: MGP sourced, aged to maturity by Blaum Bros, IL
Nose: The nose opens with a balanced mix of deep fudgey caramel, cinnamon, white pepper, and smoky charred oak. As it opens I’d almost swear I can smell cola, followed by black cherries, dark chocolate, and white pepper.
Palate: The palate is oily and syrupy, opening with sweet deep caramel and a lot of cinnamon. This followed by an earthy dry rye spice, citrus peel, black cherries, a touch of smoky oak and faint roasted nuts.
Finish: The finish is medium length opening with a wave of cinnamon, followed by bitter oak, a kick of spice, and roast nuts, leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste of charred oak and baking spices.
This bourbon is another great example of MGP’s distilling prowess. It has serious depth and flavour complexity, giving sweetness, spice, earthiness, and smokiness all in near-perfect ratios. However, once you’ve taken your hat off to the original distillers, prepare to take off two more hats. One for Blaum Bros, who chose this barrel from MGP and have managed its maturation ever since, and one more to the guy who then picked this barrel and thought ‘That’s the barrel I want in my store!’. That guy, Mr. Ed Bley, has had his recent MGP blends rise to celebrity-status fame in bourbon circles, and sipping on this bourbon I’m not surprised. If Old Baldy Batch 2 or Bald Monk are even half as good as this single barrel then I can see why people are spending extraordinary amounts to acquire them. Simply put this is a really solid bourbon and could have easily been sold for much more than its $80 price tag, and only further adds to my recent conclusion that store picks are the limited editions of the future for value and quality in many cases. Another thing I like about Blaum Bros is their very open and to-the-point attitude about their production techniques. Not only is it no secret that they sourced this whiskey, but on the hot topic of chill filtration they’ve addressed the non-chill filtered nature of their bourbon (and the problems it might present, like flocking) by stating on the back label that ‘When exposed to cold temperatures or cold people, a slight haze may occur. This is normal. Because flavor.’ With the no BS nature of this statement alone it’s clear these guys know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and that is something to respect in modern day producers.
Try or Buy?
There’s a reason these picks have recently popped up everywhere on social media, if you see them buy them – they’re worth every penny. This particular pick is long gone but for those with access, the Blaum Bros Distillery regularly releases barrels they thought were exceptional in their gift shop and if they’re this good or better I’d buy them all. Best part is this bottle cost me around $80 – meaning I didn’t have to part with a kidney to enjoy some age-stated barrel proof MGP bourbon goodness.