Corner Creek has quietly been around as a “modern” brand since the late 1980’s. During this time the brand has passed hands among various organizations, including Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (aka Willett), and currently being owned by Corner Creek Distillery Co. located in Crestwood, Kentucky. One thing has been consistent throughout the brand’s life, it has never been disclosed where the bourbon is sourced from. For the majority of the brand’s life, it has only sold as a no age statement (NAS) bourbon. This changed with the introduction of the non-chill filtered Corner Creek 10 Year.
The nose is surprisingly expressive for being less than 90 proof. Caramel, marshmallow, and barrel char waft out of the glass. A swirl of the glass reveals hints of cocoa, vanilla, sweet sugar gum drops, and white pepper spice. The combination of sweeter aromas mixed with the barrel char and hint of spice provides for a really delightful way to open up the sip, and one that continuously draws you back in for further exploration.
The palate is a tale of two flavor journeys. One takes you down a sweet path of brown sugar, burnt caramel, vanilla, and light cotton candy, while the other features a mingling of large doses of cigar box and aged oak. Again it’s surprising how this bourbon works its 88 proof to its advantage. While the earthier flavors slightly off balance things, it’s still an interesting flavor combination that works for the most part.
The finish is short and direct. Drier charred oak overpowers underlying tones of sweet vanilla and caramel. The light, sweeter flavors fade off, leaving just dried oak, leather, and a tad of tobacco leaf. It’s an adequate way to end the sip, but doesn’t shine as brightly as its counterparts.
Age stated\bourbon from an undisclosed distillery, isn’t breaking any new ground here. What seems to be less common nowadays though is bourbon sourced from Kentucky carrying a double digit age statement . Additionally, what makes Corner Creek stand out is the fact that it delivers a surprisingly deep amount of flavors for being such a low-proof bourbon.
Often when I taste bourbons under 90 proof, I find myself asking for just a bit more from it. I usually point towards the low proof, but this could be due to the fact that I tend to gravitate towards higher-proof, fuller-flavored bourbons. However, I feel it’s mainly the fact that it’s just really hard to be under 90 proof and compete flavorwise with a majority of bourbons on the market. Surprisingly, Corner Creek 10 Year is able to. It delivers a flavorful sip, that while not necessarily mind blowing, is one that will make you appreciative of what is capable out of a well-aged bourbon no matter the proof.
Corner Creek 10 Year may deliver a decent sip for it’s proof point, but it comes at a price that will make most anyone pause. Up front it needs to be said that there are a multitude of bourbons that can be found for less that deliver an equal or much better sip. Add in the fact that Corner Creek 10 Year is coming in at below 90 proof, and even with a 10 year age statement, $60 for a sourced bourbon with these characteristics seems like a hard sell.
However a more apt comparison would be Basil Hayden 10 Year release. This was another 10 year old Kentucky bourbon that was below 90 proof. Here though Basil Hayden’s 10 Year’s flavor profile was flat and forgettable. Corner Creek’s 10 Year’s flavorful sip is the one redeeming area that doesn’t make Corner Creek 10 Year a bad value. That’s not an ringing endorsement of a great price, instead it’s more so an acknowledgement that at the sip within makes the price tag hurt a little less. When adding onto the fact that there aren’t too many double digit age stated bourbons on the market for those who prefer a lower proof, and the value for Corner Creek 10 Year doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Its low proof and boring bottle label might turn many off to it, but Corner Creek 10 Year surprises with a weighty 10 age statement and a flavorful blend of sweet and earthy flavors.
Corner Creek 10 Year bourbon seems like it should be a straightforward bourbon to rate: non-distiller produced, from an unnamed Kentucky distillery, with a low proof and a high price point. Yet, the old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover never held more true than when it comes to Corner Creek 10 Year.
While it starts stronger than it finishes, what buoys Corner Creek 10 Year is the fact that it delivers an above-average sip. Its well-rounded flavor profile is full of sweet flavors that play well with aged oak characteristics thanks to the 10 years it has spent in the barrel. Additionally, its lower proof actually works well here as it makes it more accessible to bourbon drinkers who may not be seeking a higher proof pour.
If you normally prefer lower proof bourbons such as Basil Hayden’s or Four Roses Bourbon, Corner Creek 10 Year is a good bottle to target. For those that prefer a high proof burner, this won’t be a bourbon you reach for all that frequently. However, most everyone should be able to appreciate the fact that Corner Creek 10 Year is able to extract a surprisingly flavorful sip for what normally might be a very forgettable bottle on paper.