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Review: Rowan’s Creek Bourbon

I hope this post, my first in quite some time, finds everyone doing well. I continue to battle a hectic schedule, but I am hoping to work through what can only be described as a mountain of whiskeys to review.

The first one I am breaking down is Rowan’s Creek Bourbon. Bottled by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD), Rowan’s Creek is a small batch bourbon sourced from another distillery. As we’ve discussed on the site, KBD is now distilling their own whiskey, but the products you see on the market from them today (Willet offerings, Noah’s Mill, etc) are sourced elsewhere.

With that brief intro out of the way, let’s tuck into the bourbon Robert Parker made famous shall we?

rowans-creek-bourbon
Rowan’s Creek Bourbon, 50.05% abv (100.1 Proof), $35.00, Batch No: QBC No. 12-67
Color: Deep golden/light amber
Nose: Caramel and spicy, floral honey notes up front. A sweet and fruity baked cinnamon apple overshadows the oak influence, which is restrained. Vanilla is present in spades.
Palate: Well spiced – cinnamon and chili heat quickly cut through the caramel, corn and honey sweetness. Vanilla and oak round out the flavors on the palate. A splash of water calms things a bit, bringing on more oak, and even a bit of fruity sweetness.
Finish: Only moderate in length, but with ample caramel and vanilla (a touch of charred oak).
Overall: Rowan’s Creek is an excellent whiskey that hits a lot of the characteristics I look for in a great bourbon. It has the sweetness, spice, a bit of fruit, and enough going on to make things interesting, while still being accessible. The price point is pretty solid as well. There’s a lot of speculation about where KBD sources whiskey for this bottling. I personally don’t think they are traveling very far to get the juice for Rowan’s Creek. Heaven Hill is a long par 5 away from KBD’s headquarters in Bardstown, KY, and Rowan’s Creek has some of that Evan Williams DNA. Give this one a try.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.7 (Very Good/Excellent)

15 Comments

  1. sam k says:

    Welcome back, my boy!

  2. Glad to have you back, Jason! I too enjoyed this bourbon. In addition to many of the flavors you described, I also tasted a bit of almond in the mix, which I felt was a nice and earthy way of bridging the gap between the spice and the fruit.

  3. Nick says:

    Good to hear from you Jason! This bourbon, along with Elmer are my go to guys. Spot on review here. Hope you are well and thanks for posting.

  4. Dave says:

    Thanks for the great review Jason! I really enjoyed this bourbon… especially after a steak. :-) maybe because of some black pepper I’m picking up on . I happened to be sipping Evan Williams White when reading this, so how close do you think the DNA is? You have me something to chew on. Thanks again.

  5. iskch1 says:

    Thanks for the review, Jason. Welcome back.

  6. Adam S says:

    Great to see an update! Have enjoyed trawling through previous reviews and its helped guide me towards bourbons I wouldn’t otherwise try.

    Cheers.

  7. RTR says:

    Good to see you back, Jason. You and Ralfy have the best whiskey/whisky sites bar none. I always check out SourMashManifesto every day.

  8. Grant says:

    I received this bourbon as a graduation gift from a friend. If you haven’t tried it yet, do yourself a favor and get a bottle. Sweet and interesting, just like our expert describes it.

  9. Aaron says:

    I almost picked up this bottle today, but ended up going with 1792, since it was on sale for $20. Definitely enjoying the RR, but kind of wishing I had just payed the extra to try this one out. Oh well, next time!

  10. Lori Bean says:

    I am liking this one as well. Recently got to try the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and it’s a few notches above this one but impossible to find. This is a great substitute.

  11. Josh says:

    This was one of my favorite pours back in 2007 when it was still age stated at 12 years. I gave up on it when they removed the age statement. Flash forward to this year, abuddy had a bottle with one pour left in it. I said, what the heck and gave it another chance. I thought it was a solid bourbon. What threw me off though, was that I got a wheater nose………..

  12. Jefferson says:

    Jason, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of the Noah’s Mill the past couple years and always assumed Rowan’s was the poor man’s version. Strangely i’ve never picked up a bottle and only tasted it once, but not properly (someone handed me a glass on the rocks. I feintly remember enjoying it). Are these two related in any way, or have similar DNA, or is this still part of the KBD sourcing mysteries?

  13. I just stumbled across this review and I am glad I did. I just opened up a bottle and have to say I agree with your comments. I would reiterate that water would / should calm it down. Especially on the front end.
    Nice bottle. I like its uniqueness
    -micko

  14. Thanks for this review. After I read your review and LA Whiskey Society gave it an A-, I was on the hunt. I am glad to say I loved this bourbon and I have now been telling my friends they need to go out buy a bottle for themselves. I finished the bottle in just a week and have now picked up a couple more. I am surprised with the positive reviews and price this is relatively easy to find compared to so many of the others that rate this high.

  15. Just FYI, while Heaven Hill’s old facility is located in Bardstown, where KBD/Willett is based, Heaven Hill does not distill spirits there. Their Bardstown distillery burned to the ground in 1996 and was never rebuilt. Instead, Heaven Hill purchased and renovated the Bernheim distillery in Louisville, about 40 miles away. HH does have many warehouses and their bottling operations in Bardstown, along with their “Bourbon Heritage Center,” so it’s still possible they purchase pre-barreled bourbon from HH. 4 Roses has bottling and warehouse operations near to KBD as well. Given the flavor profiles, I’d agree that HH is a good bet, though there could certainly be some brown foreman influence. Rowan’s Creek doesn’t have the characteristics of Jim Beam at all, which is the nearest distiller, and I can say with certainty that it isn’t 4 Roses.

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