One of the cheapest drinkable bourbons around . Usually can be found for $20 or so which is a steal these days for anything in a glass bottle and halfway decent.
Notes: This whiskey is produced at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, and has a new visitors center the Bourbon Heritage Center (which sadly was about to open the week after we visited), and a new Bourbon Heritage Center in downtown Louisville Kentucky too. Close to both Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve Distillery if you are touring.
Home of numerous other whiskies such as Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old, Elijah Craig, 18-Year-Old Single Barrel, Elijah Craig 21-Year-Old Single Barrel, Elijah Craig 23-Year-Old Single Barrel, Henry McKenna, Larceny, Old Fitzgerald, Fighting Cock and Cabin Still among others. Please do a search on our site for the multiple expressions of Larceny and Old Fitzgerald – there is a good number!
Evan Williams is an old brand that has not gotten a lot of respect except for its vintage releases. Regarded as a value brand by most it has suffered in obscurity in recent decades and is now getting a bit of a make-over in the form of this small-batch edition/addition to the line. Originally released in 1957, it was for years released in either a white or black label depending on the age. Lately, there have been a number of flavored editions and an Eggnog.
Geeky Details; Small batch of less than 300 barrels of six to eight-year-old barrels. Mashbill is Heaven Hills’ standard recipe of 78 % corn,12% Malted Barley and 10% rye. Bottled at the brands original 90 proof.
Appearance: Copper-bronze color in the bottle, it shows its age well. Baltic amber in the glass. On swirling, it leaves a thin oily coat on the glass with legs.
First Impression:Whiff of caramelized corn and oak char, with dark cherries cinnamon, slowly developing.oak char component with vanilla, touch of mint, cherries, and cinnamon?
Taste: Char and smoke with a sweetish entry, slightly buttery/oily corn.Oak, pepper, grapefruit, bitter orange, mint, clove, tobacco, cherries, heather, and dates. Medium finish of char and oak.
Drinks: Stands up well in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Highball, Horses Neck, and a Whiskey Sour. Will also do well for a lighter version of a Rob Roy. As it is 90 proof you may want to make a longer pour depending on your ice.
Bottle: Complete redo of the older bottle. Shape has changed to something closer to a rectangular coffin shape bottle with decent quality, slightly embossed printing, and more striking graphics. Neck capsule is upgraded with better graphics ( and conceals a screw cap – a practical if not trendy treatment) with “Small Batch” noted on it and elsewhere. Also the “Extra Aged in White Oak”, “Expertly Crafted” and other treatments help convey this is not your grandfathers value brand.” Evan Williams” is blown onto the front shoulder of the bottle. Overall the design harkens to an earlier type of whiskey bottle with simple, nostalgic, and tasteful lines. Easy to spot on a commercial or home bar. Bottle overall is designed to influence and appearance is trying to convey an upscale bourbon.
Other: This is a single barrel bourbon from ten-year-old barrels that are selected every year. In this case, the statistics were; Barreled on 3/19/20004, Barrel #1, Bottled on 11/16/13. Previous reviews of the Evan Wiliams Single Barrel series include the 2000 Vintage, the 2002 Vintage, 2003 Vintage. and the 2004 Vintage. After that, we have no idea how they were as we did not get a chance to review them. Sadly we also had the 1984 Vintage and every year thereafter but never reviewed them. Those Evan Williams Vintages predate our website and we drank them before we got to write about them (fond memories but no detailed tasting notes alas !) The 2002 vintage was a bit of a dud frankly, being a rather lighter version than most. It was maybe in reaction to this that Parker Beam came out with this version in which he picked barrels from the upper reaches of the warehouse, an area with much greater swings in temperature and therefore (usually) more character.
Final Thoughts: Actually a bit of a surprise, Damn nice for $20. It is from Heaven Hill, but the Evan Williams brand always seemed to be where they used up the not quite up to snuff barrels for a low proof value brand. This is a considerable facelift for the brand and its reputation.
Fast loading and easy to navigate. This one of the most comprehensive bourbon ( or any other spirit for that matter) websites I have come across – and that is saying a lot! Extensive information and good pictures of how bourbon is made, the distillery, the bourbon heritage with reviews and ratings by different people and organizations of the different vintage years. Also the most extensive store of bourbon-related gear and accessories in the industry.