Evan Williams Black Label Kentucky Bourbon

Evan Williams is another of the Heaven Hills Distillery bourbons, a cousin, so to speak, of Elijah Craig. I tried it on a whim, since I quite liked the Elijah Craig, especially in an Old Fashioned, and it was on sale at the local liquor store. It's fairly standard Kentucky bourbon, aged somewhere between four and seven years in oak barrels, depending on the bottle. I note that this bottle has no age statement on it, but that other sources state that the current Evan Williams "Black Label" is aged five years. It's roughly comparable to Jack Daniels, in other words. In the past it has won several awards; most notably, in 2003, the International Spirits Challenge 2003 Evan Williams took the Silver medal, the 2003 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Silver medal, the 2003 Best Buy Whiskey of the Year from Malt Advocate Magazine, and in 2004 the San Francisco World Spirits Competition's Gold medal. All those awards, however, appear to be for an "older" Evan Williams, that was 90 proof, compared to the current version's 86 proof, and that was aged for seven years, rather than four or five.

In color, Evan Williams is slightly darker than Makers Mark or Elijah Craig, with a very different aroma; much sharper, and smokier, than either. In flavor, the first impression is of smoke, then an almost acidic sharpness, followed by a denser impression of oak, and smoke, odd as it seems, damp moss. Frankly, for my taste, Evan Williams is not enjoyable straight, and it's merely tolerable on the rocks. It's slightly better in mixed drinks, but this is, in all honesty a very "young," even green bourbon. I doubt I'd try it again.

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