Much heavier in all departments than former releases. Could almost believe it was a Scotch…
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).
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, Old Fitzgerald, Fighting Cock and Cabin Still among others. 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 include the 2000 Vintage, the 2002 Vintage, and the 2003 Vintage. Sadly we 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.
Appearance: Deep gold bronze color in the bottle, wears its age almost as well as its’ distiller (Parker Beam) did. Beautiful clear Baltic amber in the glass. On swirling, it leaves a thin oily coat on the glass with thin legs rapidly developing.
First Impression: Almost smoky in nature, with a heavy oak char component with vanilla, touch of mint, cherries, and cinnamon?
Taste: delicious char and smoke in this one, char, oak, pepper grapefruit, bitter orange, mint, clove, tobacco, cherries, heather, and dates. Nice heavyweight to it leaving a medium-long finish of char and oak.
Drinks: Stands up well in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and a Whiskey Sour. Will also do well for a lighter version of a Rob Roy. Nicely assertive without being overpowering.
Bottle: Bottle is the same as earlier releases but the labeling has changed. Black sealing wax with (thankfully) a good pull tab. Soft black wax and long pull tab make for an easy opening. Too many bottles have wax that is too brittle and hard to open and/or lack a pull tab which means you need sharp objects to open the damn things, which can be frustrating and dangerous. The bulbous neck makes the bottle easy to grip when pouring. The main body is slightly squat with rounded edges give it a nice effect and shelf appeal (in the store or on your own shelf). The clear glass show off the color of the whiskey to good effect and the trimmer, narrower label with a deckled edge has the legally required labeling and the important stuff on the back – barreled on date, barrel number, and bottling date, and little more. The weight and heft of the bottle conveys a solid feel. Overall the design harkens to a scotch single malt bottle in overall influence and appearance.
Other: The choice of barrels in the more active and exposed area of the warehouse really shines through! A great example of what location and climate can do for a whiskey
Final Thoughts: An interesting departure from earlier releases and a milestone year for a collection. Atypically heavier and more assertive but in a nice way.
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.