Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel
86.6 Proof, Heaven Hill Distilleries
The first Evan Williams vintage bottling I tasted was, I’m pretty sure, the 1990 (they rolled out the line in 1986), and I’m proud to say I’ve consumed a bottle or two (or three) every year since. I’m less proud to say the reason is more because of its affordable price, usually around $20-$22 (now $25-$30) than because I’ve loved them.
I do like them, but they’re definitely representatives of bourbon’s more elegant, demure side. To me the EW vintage labels are to classic small batch bourbon what most Irish whiskeys are to Scottish single malts—perfumed, lighter and more singular versions of the more profound big brother. I guess that’s what professional tasters like because they generally earn high scores that I cannot relate to.
Notes of heather, leather and light spice come across the palate along with tea, honey and wood. There’s ethereal quality to the mouthfeel—it sort of dances across the tongue rather than sits heavily on it or saturates it, and hints of grass and chestnut make fleeting cameos before the whole show vanishes quietly.
These are always solid, interesting bourbons for those who want to waltz through their tipple. For me, while I appreciate what they are, they always leave me wanting.