Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon

Ahh, where we would we be without picturesque-sounding “distilleries” making “prime aged American whiskey” from the “finest quality grains” and offering them to us with labels depicting meandering creeks in pristine mountain valleys? Of course like many bourbons Corner Creek is owned by KBD (Kentucky Bourbon Distillers) and sourced from who-knows-where. The problem I have with this is not in the opaque marketing nor the misdirection and obfuscation… it’s with the fact that if I really truly like the whiskey, I cannot be assured that the very next bottle will contain the same whiskey, or even whiskey from the same distillery! I know Laphroaig will be made at Laphroaig, Buffalo Trace will be made at Buffalo Trace, and Redbreast will be made at Midleton. What I don’t know is where Corner Creek will be made next, because I don’t know where it’s made now.

All that said, Corner Creek is actually pretty impressive. At around $27, it’s fruity, fresh, light, and without flaws. That’s more than I can say for most other bourbons under $40, and it’s purportedly 8 years old. The bottle is an odd choice – a wine bottle with a decidedly wine-like label, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was actually a bottle of Chardonnay.

Note 4/8/2016: A reader commented below that he bought a bottle of Corner Creek and found it very low-quality. Be warned that either the liquid has changed in recent batches or there is variability in the quality control.

Nose: Fruity and chalky, with peach and apricot nectars, honeysuckle and other fresh florals, and a light, airy personality. A bit like Angel’s Envy in that it eschews the heavy oaky tradition of most bourbons for a lighterweight spirit with more finesse.

Palate: Mid-weight body, with an initial syrupy rush of elderflower (like this stuff), backed up by white tea and white peaches, young coconut, and the barest touch of oak. Some vanilla rounds out the very non-corn-like malty cereal base.

Finish: On the shorter side, with mostly remnants of the palate notes. Some slight charcoal flavors and a fading tinge of cinnamon and menthol.

With Water: A drop of water seems to drown out the fruits and florals, replacing them with maybe a little cinnamon. The palate seems unchanged, as does the finish. I would not bother with water here – the bottle proof is perfect.

Overall: Exceptional for $29 bourbon, especially if you prefer a lighter style of whisky with more florals and fruits than woody sugars. Corner Creek Reserve is summer whiskey: refreshing, almost thirst-quenching in its presentation, and arrives at a well-chosen 44% ABV which delivers sparkling flavors without overwhelming the palate.

Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon
44% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $26 - $30
Acquired: Sample from a friend's bottle. Thanks, Louis!

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  • Corner Creek is one of my favorites. And it’s consistently $24/750ml; recently $18 on sale! Though I still buy it occasionally, I have mixed feelings about it not being a straight whiskey. Does anyone know why it is not? I emailed the company, but received no reply. Maybe it is a straight bourbon, but they just fail to put it on the label.

    • In 2015, I exchanged emails with Ted Kraut, a Corner Creek co-founder. He stated that Corner Creek was a “straight” bourbon. I got the impression that putting that on the bottle wasn’t important to them, but I noticed in the last few years it was added. He said bottles then were at least 4 years old. Originally, they were 10 years old, but that source dried up. They now sell the original and a 10 year (again) for about $55.

  • Thank you for your review about this one, I picked up a bottle of it and find it simply delicious, even more than the eagle rare that I am about to finish. This is one of the bourbon I enjoyed the most so far regardless of price

  • My guess is that Corner Creek’s QA/QC is not all that consistent, because the bottle I got wasn’t anywhere near what the reviews above describe. My bottle was damn near un-drinkable. Loads of off tasting esters made this a thoroughly un-enjoyable experience, when sampled neat. On the rocks it was a bit more palatable, but still not what I’d even expect in an Evan Williams price range. At nearly $30 in MA, it was robbery.

  • Just got a bottle today. Was fantastic. Was shocked at how good it was for the price. I also don’t love how they don’t single source it/reveal where it’s from. However, I’ll probably buy it again bc it’s such a good value. Kind of like 90+ wine. You don’t know what it is and you often pick something else, but you can get a great deal on a good wine.

  • I’ve not tried this, want to, but just did a tour of Kentucky Artisan Distillers (Makers of Jefferson’s) and there were barrels of this around. So Guessing they are producing it now.

  • I had bought a bottle last year and remembered sampling it, but without making very many mental notes – I was really into a Noah’s Mill and Double-Oaked Woodford at the time. Found the bottle tucked behind the Knob Creek tonight and wondered why it was still nearly full. I was really impressed once I took the time to appreciate it. On par or better than a Buffalo Trace. Will have to rotate my inventory after tonight.

    • Agreed, I’d rate it above Buffalo Trace. It’s become my go-to budget burboun (around $20-23 where I live). I haven’t had a bad bottle yet, though now I am a little nervous about the source. I hope it stays good!