Rowan’s Creek is the first bourbon I’ve reviewed that comes from the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) line of bourbons. Rowan’s Creek comes out of a small batch collection that includes one of my choice bourbons, Noah’s Mill. Rowan’s Creek is the younger brother in the small batch collection, being aged 12 years to Noah’s Mill’s 15. However, that also means that Rowan’s Creek is cheaper, usually in the same price range as a more popular bourbon like Knob Creek. The two whiskeys have similar profiles, but as you will see, I think Rowan’s Creek is the one I’d rather drink.
Like Knob Creek, Rowan’s Creek is bottled around 100 proof, which gives it a powerful flavor profile and mouth feel. On the nose, Rowan’s Creek comes right out and says that it is a big, oaky bourbon. However, it is a sweet oak, with some of the burnt sugars from the barrel coming through as the bourbon sits in the glass. There are rich notes of brown sugar, maple fudge, and nutmeg. On the palate, Rowan’s Creek is medium-bodied, with a strong oak character. However, it is backed by some citrus notes (pears, oranges), vanilla, and roasted nuts which add a lot to the whiskey. The finish is strong and of medium length, leaving oak and fresh pepper all over the palate. However, like the nose, the oak has a sweet character to it, with some well-timed vanilla.
Overall, Rowan’s Creek is a big, bold bourbon whiskey. One of the most interesting things about Rowan’s Creek is that it opens up very nicely in the bottle. Don’t go through the bottle too quickly, or you might miss this bourbon’s beautiful evolution from a rich, oak monster to a complex, sweet, well-oaked bourbon. It is not going to be everybody’s favorite bourbon, much the same way that people are polarized over Knob Creek. However, between the two, Rowan’s Creek has a lot more complexity. Rowan’s Creek can be a tough bourbon to find, but if you love rich, oaky bourbons, then it is a good bourbon for a good value. My grade: B+. Price: $35-40/750ml. This is very good stuff, but it isn’t quite a top shelf bourbon (but it’s close).