Review: Knob Creek Bourbon and dinner at Pharmarium

Old Fashioned
On March 1, Knob Creek Bourbon was launched here in Sweden thanks to Edrington. Apparently, the worldwide sales of american whiskey has increased by 13% during the last 4 years, and in Sweden the growth was 23% during the same period - and out of those 23%, two thirds are bourbon so it's not surprising that more and more brands start showing up in this cold whisky loving country.

Knob Creek bourbon is produced in "small batches" to restore the standards of pre-prohibition bourbon, aged for 9 years in the deepest charred American oak barrels and bottled at 50% abv. Being a big bourbon fan this sounded pretty good to me, and here are my tasting notes:

Nose: Rich and rather sweet with prominent notes of toffee, roasted nuts, maple and vanilla with some spiciness and hints of charred oak and ripe fruit. Mouth: Medium-bodied with an emphasis on oak and spice together with a mild alcohol burn, which soon evolves into comforting notes of brown sugar, vanilla and some baking spices and ripe tropical fruit thrown in for good measure. A dry, woody bitterness appears as it slowly fades and makes way for a tad bit more smoke and spicy alcohol burn.

In conclusion, Knob Creek is a bold and delicious bourbon which I'm sure will be embraced by the curious Swedish market. However, I think I'd prefer the bitterness to be toned down a notch or two.

Anyway, as if that wasn't enough, Edrington also had the good taste of inviting me to an exclusive Knob Creek dinner at Pharmarium. Unfortunately my camera failed me this evening so please excuse the horrible photos.

Jonatan Östblom-Smedje, Delirium cocktail
After a short presentation by Nordic brand ambassador Jonatan Östblom-Smedje while sipping on a Boulevardier, it was time to indulge in the three course food and Knob Creek cocktail pairing menu that Pharmarium bar manager Anders Sandberg and head chef Jim Erixen had put together for us. First out was seared scallops with roasted hazelnuts, sorrel and celery root purée, a well balanced and savoury treat which was paired with the drink Delirium (Knob Creek, sugar, citric acid, absinthe - birch smoked) and it showed that they really know what they're doing. The cocktail really helped bringing out both the acidic and nutty elements of the dish, and added sweet and smoky qualities to the experience - wow!

The main course - a very successful combination of fennel pork sausage, confit pork belly and pork crackling with lacto-fermented cabbage, fava beans and roasted chestnut - was paired with a classic Manhattan (Knob Creek, Carpano Rosso vermouth, bitters) and the subtle sweetness of the drink did wonders balancing out the salty, fatty meats.

Praescriptum No. 2
Last but not least, the rather light and fresh dessert consisting of mint ice cream, pan-fried apples, Knob Creek-marinated gooseberries and apple crisp was the perfect ending to this great dinner, expertly served together with a Praescriptum No. 2 (Knob Creek, lemon juice, apple wood-smoked maple syrup, bitters and garnished with mint and a Knob Creek-marinated gooseberry). Tart, a bit smoky and with lots of different textures, with the smooth bourbon binding everything together.

This dinner showed both that Knob Creek works very well in cocktails, and also that food and cocktail pairing is something that more restaurants should look into. Great stuff, guys!

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