|Distillery:||Jim Beam Distilling|
|Type & Region:||Bourbon, Kentucky, United States|
|Composition:||made of at least 51% corn|
|Aged:||3 years+ (Legal Minimum)|
|Color:||0.5 on the color scale (medium gold)|
About Evan Williams Bourbon
Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams brand has been budget-priced and widely distributed for several years, but that hasn’t undercut the substantial quality of what the distillery is crafting out of their Louisville campus. Their standard Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon is a textbook example of an excellent single barrel bourbon at a great price.
Many whiskey enthusiasts, including this bourbon reviewer, have long had a soft spot for Evan Williams. It just seems to go down so damn smooth without being too light or over-the-top sweet. Traditionally, Evan Williams has only come in a singular variety that was bottled at 80 proof, but that all changes with introducing their new 7-year-old Single Barrel Bourbon. The appearance of the bottle itself also is quite unusual. The bottle’s label includes a vintage year — a reference indicating the year the bourbon was put into oak barrels to age — that makes Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon unique and interesting.
Every day when I get home this is the first thing I do, mix up a glass of Evan Williams with some ice. The mix makes me feel like I’m in the south in the summertime. Evan Williams bourbon has a medium amber color more closely matching the hue of burnished bronze. Its diluted, pale yellow appearance settles into a crisp, pale copper orange. The Evan Williams color density is consistent medium-heavy throughout the glass. The bourbon’s coloring is an average of 1.5 units shy of the Evan Williams baseline for the U.S. Standard drinks (the U.S. leads the world in measuring whiskey).
This Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon is perfect for the fall and winter months. The darker flavors such as honey, roasted oak, cinnamon, and toasty vanilla make it a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving menu. This bourbon has the same oakiness and expected bourbon bloom on the front end. The whiskey is oaky and roasted with a scent that is aided by its lack of heat. As it rests in the glass some more, I’m getting some smoke, fennel seed, some brothy scallop-like flavors, followed by some burnt marshmallow sweetness.
The nose is fairly light but very appealing. There are some lighter aromas of fruit, both citrus and tropical. The vanilla is evident, but not overpowering. Indeed, the nose is exceptionally good, and beyond that, it reminds me of very few Bourbons I’ve ever come across.
The initial flavor of Evan Williams bourbon is actually not that compelling, but there are some interesting things to be experienced later on. It’s sort of like meeting someone you don’t think is fascinating at first, but later you decide he could be quite charming. As I take more sips, I continue to taste the initial flavors with the addition of caramel, honey, vanilla, apple butter, allspice, jalapeno pepper, wintergreen mints, leather, herbal tea with chamomile notes, and cinnamon.
On the palate, this Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon delivers naturally sweet honey, candied pineapple, roasted oak, a little tobacco and smoke, vanilla, sliced orange, apple, peach, cinnamon, clove, and cocoa powder. After a few seconds, the oak gives off a slightly smoky fragrance that’s reminiscent of toasted wood.
The aftertaste is long and pronounced, with the oak flavor fading first into marzipan before some applewood smoked bacon takes hold. The finish reinforces everything you might like about the bourbon as it has a nice freshness with a surprising herbal mint. A touch of fat allows the bourbon to roll around your tongue as the flavors begin to depart. The oak is present but I wouldn’t subscribe it to that being a signature characteristic. After “chewing” or swirling the bourbon, I get tasting notes of honey and licorice that are equally matched with roasted oak and cinnamon.
Evan Williams Alternatives
Evan Williams has got to be one of the top-selling bourbons around. It’s cheap, smooth, and it sells well. That’s probably why they make it by the trainload. But Evan Williams is hardly the best bourbon you can buy and today we’ll take a look at some great Evan Williams alternatives.
Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled in Bond
The 7 year is a nice, spicy bourbon that stands out among the crowd of young, sweet bourbons that are currently dominating the shelves. The 7 years is bottled in a bond which means it meets all of the legal requirements to be considered a bonded bourbon. During this time frame, Heaven Hill was proud to release ultra-premium ultra-aged products like this one. It was only until the mid-90’s that Heaven Hill started producing younger bourbons for survival purposes.
The nose has both vanilla buttercream and amber caramel with funky vanilla buttercream notes thrown in, all at different points in this huge complex monolithic nose. A hint of green apple creeps in before it moves on to a dry earthy nuance. Some very lightly roasted oak peppercorns and dried orange peel come out and join the fruit and oak and give you a nice touch of sweetness.
Bonded bourbons let you experience whiskey history in a glass. Sipping neat has me get oak, cinnamon, pepper, gumdrops, caramel (ahh!), green apple, vanilla (the best I’ve ever had), peach, and brown sugar. Cocoa shows up with a small amount of water. Chewing gives you roasted caramel, more oak, roasted vanilla, dry nuttiness, dried orange peel with cocktail bitters, red apple, licorice, cinnamon percussion, and a little black pepper.
Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
Henry McKenna’s 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon is one of those successes that’s not as widely available as some other top-shelf bourbons such as Pappy Van Winkle, yet it still consistently wins awards. I put on my tuxedo and tried it out.
The smell of alcohol dominates, but this time it is followed by a strong smell of barley malt, which indicates that the alcohol has been distilled from corn. Baking spices are added to the smell.
After the honey sweetness, I pick up the vanilla. It’s there but it’s not strong. The caramel continues to give way to wood. The oak is present with a little spice that I can’t identify, but it works well with the other flavors. The caramel sweetness continues to fade away, melding with the oak and tobacco to form a nice finish. There is also some earthiness present at this point, making for a nice finish.
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Here’s another representative of Heaven Hill’s. The bottle design is great, and the branding of the whiskey is definitely on point with a very zen-like aesthetic. The bottle alone is a fantastic conversation piece, especially when guests come over and notice your collection.
Take a close look at the Bourbon in your Glass and you’ll notice “distinctive flavor notes” like caramel, cold brew coffee, dark chocolate, and citrus. I think the nose is a lot more inviting in comparison to their Single Barrel counterpart which can be a bit sharp from the rye.
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon is sweet with caramel and vanilla, along with some nuttiness, citrus, cherry, licorice, oak, cinnamon, and clove. It has minimal burn without much complexity.
So how good is Evan Williams Bourbon really? It is a true Kentucky Straight Bourbon. When you’re looking at Evan Williams Single Barrel (EWSB), you should be thinking about when you want to drink it, rather than what it is. It brings a range of pleasant and interesting scents and flavors, especially the slightly stronger oak, spice, and smoke that complement the sweetness, but it suffers from the lower ABV.
Is Evan Williams Worth the Money?
Whether you prefer a smooth, velvety bourbon or a spicier, more robust flavor from one of your other favorite bottles, it’s time to take a good look at Evan Williams. It isn’t a high-end bourbon, but it isn’t one of the bottom shelf selections either. The Evan Williams Bourbon brand offers a smooth, luxurious flavor that keeps people coming back for more.
How Much Is a Bottle of Evan Williams?
Evan Williams is one of the most inexpensive bourbons on the market with an average cost of $25 per bottle. That’s why it’s so recognized among bourbon aficionados, whiskey connoisseurs, and brown liquor consumers.
Does Evan Williams Increase in Value?
I believe Evan Williams works perfectly as a sipping whiskey. Being a young, high-rye bourbon, it’s a nice introduction to a different style of whiskey that really compliments the taste of the Evan Williams bourbon. If you are looking for a whiskey that is affordable, smooth, with an incredible flavor, then you have found the one.
Is Evan Williams Better Than Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon?
Despite being the oldest of the three Evan Williams bourbons that are on the market, Single Barrel seems like the odd one out at first glance thanks to its relatively diminutive age. However, picking up a bottle will reveal that it’s also significantly lighter in body and sweetness than its reputation would suggest.
What Makes Evan Williams Special?
Evan Williams bourbon is not a new name in the liquor world. In fact, it’s one of the oldest and most well-known whiskeys in the world. Many people know this brand because it was served all over town during The Civil War by Union troops who wanted to make sure they were getting the best quality whiskey possible (who can blame them?).