A well done high rye bourbon made in extremely small batches by Evan Williams in a one-barrel a day still at their new Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Get it before it is hunted to extinction like the Buffalo Trace Experimental Series was years ago!
Notes: This is a completely new release/incarnation of bourbon from Heaven Hill. Bottled under the name ‘Square 6’ which refers to a plot of land in downtown Louisville Kentucky where Evan Williams built Kentucky’s first commercial distillery in 1783. This plot is also in the same block on Louisville’s Whiskey Row where the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience opened in 2013 and still operates there today.
There is some ambiguity as to its actual age (no mention on the bottle or in the accompanying press release) but plenty of other information about it On the other hand, I am happy to report that this, an Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a bit of a stretch, descriptive, but not a legal definition per se. Bourbon, yes definitely, and there are a plethora of requirements to call it bourbon – which most people are familiar with – or at least most of them. It is not a requirement to be made in Kentucky – you can make it anywhere in the United States if you follow the laws and rules – but Kentucky is a good place to do it. We do not have an AOC for Kentucky (yet) so that part is a bit of fluff. The “straight” designation is, however, a useful legal term. Essentially an at least 2-year-old whiskey at its simplest definition.
In any case on to the review itself. This whiskey has a lot of (positive) qualifications to it and I’ll try to tackle a few of them for you.
Made one barrel a day at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience with a mashbill of 52 percent corn, 35 percent rye, and 13 percent malted barley, this is a new recipe for the Heaven Hill Distillery portfolio. Made by Artisanal Distiller Jodie Filiatreau, the still and its working could be considered a testbed for recipes, techniques, and prototyping for Heaven Hill in general.
Available in small quantities a unique offering at the Evan Willaims Bourbon Experience and at ( very) select Kentucky retailers for an MSRP of $89.99.
Appearance: Clear, almost sparkling sheen to it. A nice penny bronze in the bottle and a dark straw gold or light amber in the glass. On swirling it forms a medium oily coat on the glass edgeline with thick legs slowly descending back into the bottom of the glass clear
First Impression: Lets you know its unmistakable whiskey right as soon as you pull the cork on it
Taste: Comes on sweet for a second with rapid sweet/sour rye and crisp dryness offset by the corn smoothing things out with a slightly bready barley finish.Midline cereal notes and drying on the tongue with a medium finish
Drinks: With the high percentage of rye it makes for a nice almost crossover rye product for those seeking a cocktail ingredient not quite as flavor-forward as a rye, but looking for something drier and slightly youngish/spritely for a bourbon with some nice structure to it. Excellent in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or a Horses Neck. But given its rarity, it should be enjoyed on its own with friends. Use the Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond for mixing at twice the age, 1/2 the cost and guilt.
Bottle: A distinct departure from any of their usual bottles shapes. A square decanter bottle with rounded edges and sides and a somewhat short neck.Ivory colored label with some raised lettering that wraps around the front and one side in the shape of the original Square 6 after which it is named. Smaller rectangular black with gold lettering notes it is a high rye bourbon and the mashbill (a handy bit of helpful/thoughtful information)
Other: A little background or history of previous offerings from Heaven Hill is called for the sake of mentioning as many of them are overlooked and not nearly as well known as they should be. Heaven Hill is a distillery with a relatively long history of iconic releases even if it only dates from 1935. While some distilleries boast more history and older start dates, few have as many notable if not singular releases to their credit. With quite a few bourbons in its portfolio, a number of them dating back to the beginning of the company in their standard portfolio, they have a number of exciting new bourbons and special editions of their older lines are generating a lot of interest (and new respect) in the bourbon community. Some of the most notable of the new series are the limited editions of the Parker Heritage Series (reviews of Number 7, Number 8, and Number 9 ) the Larceny Bourbon line(an extension/expression from the Old Fitzgerald line), the barrel proof version of Larceny and the not bourbon but still very nice Bernheim Wheat Whisky
One of the newer releases at the moment is their Old Fitzgerald 15 Year Old Bottled in Bond which is twice the age of this and four times the money and seems to be aimed at the people chasing older hard-to-get whiskies.
Their other bourbons include of course the Heaven Hill series/marks which include the white, green, and black labels, the Elijah Craig 12 ( IMHO one of the perennial best buys in a bourbon), and the Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old. Some other lines of bourbons they produce are the Evan Williams line and the Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage series they have released every year ( 2000 Vintage, 2003 Vintage, 2004 Vintage and the New Make Series of unaged distillate (Rye and Corn), Their 27 year old of the Heaven Hill which followed on from the previous releases of a 20-Year-Old, 21 Year Old Version and the 23 Year Old Elijah Craig Series was one of those whiskies that you will whisper about in your old age. I include these as references, possibly touchstones, for background and reference as you will probably not see their like again.
One of the latest releases is the 5 Brothers Bourbon, a special release commemorating the 5 founding brothers of Heaven Hill.
Heaven Hill is also one of the leaders in the Bottled in Bond category having the largest stocks of Bottled in Bond Inventory and the most labels so they can produce very specific flavor and age profiles in their portfolio and have some very worthy bottlings. IDIC as they say on Star Trek.
Final Thoughts: Overall a well done and new whiskey for the Evan Williams Stable. That being said, it is a bit pricey for the overall quality compared to their other offerings but it is extremely limited production so soon to be a very sought after bottle at any price.