Mellow and enjoyable, without any off putting notes. A good value sipping bourbon that anyone can enjoy.
Fairly thin and lacking in complexity.
Evan Williams is a well-known, mass-marketed bourbon brand owned and operated by Heaven Hill – the largest family owned distilling company in Kentucky. Heaven Hill produces many popular bourbon and rye whiskey brands, including Elijah Craig, Henry McKenna, Old Fitzgerald, Larceny, Rittenhouse, and Pikesville. The Evan Williams portfolio is an entire family of brands in itself, and includes the widely popular 90 proof “Black Label”, an 80 proof green label, bottled in bond white label, “1783 small batch”, and a handful of older age stated export or distillery only releases, along with several liqueurs including egg nog, honey, and cinnamon. In other words, Evan Williams is not an enthusiast-directed brand, but rather the “mass market” wing of Heaven Hill’s whiskey portfolio meant to attract the casual bourbon drinker. This does not mean that the brand is not worth exploring, however, especially considering that every straight bourbon besides the rare older age stated offerings is value-priced.
My first introduction to Evan Williams came when I was unable to find any Buffalo Trace bourbon – my usual easy sipper – at my local liquor store. When I told an employee what I was looking for, he recommended Evan Williams Single Barrel as a comparable dram. I took his advice, and since then I’ve always appreciated this whiskey as a solid value bourbon that makes an adequate “daily sipper”, and mixes well into an Old Fashioned.
The single barrel is bottled by Vintage rather than age statement, marketing the year it was distilled and filled into the barrel. The bottle also contains the bottling date, allowing you to determine the age of the whiskey on your own. This bottle is the 2009 vintage, which was bottled in 2017, making it 8 years old.
- Barrel number 1031
- Barreled on 5/9/2009 and bottled on 8/29/2017
- Bottled at 43.3% ABV (86.6 proof)
- Mash bill of 75% corn, 13 rye, 12% malted barley
Nose: Caramel and apple sweetness, soft vanilla, and light oakiness with a touch of cinnamon spice.
Palate: Caramel and apple lead the way, joined by dusty rye spice and a touch of honey. As the palate develops, the flavor brightens with some lemon-citrus notes. Soft mouthfeel.
Finish: Quick and bright, leaving behind lemon-citrus, oak, and a faint hint of honey.
Buying Recommendation: Worth Buying a Pour. Personally, I think that this is a good value bourbon worthy of addition to any bourbon enthusiast’s shelf. The price ranges from $25-30 near me, but I know in some areas of the country this can be found for as little as $20. It’s not terribly complex or mind blowing, but is enjoyable and inoffensive, and does not contain any off-putting cloying, acrid, or harsh notes that often accompany bottom shelf bourbons. Along with Elijah Craig Small Batch, Henry McKenna 10 year, and Buffalo Trace, this bottle routinely finds itself on my shelf as a go-to value bourbon. Give it a try and see if it becomes one of yours as well!