September 5, 2019
Heaven Hill produces a number of bottled in bond (BIB for short) whiskeys, including Rittenhouse Rye BIB, Old Fitzgerald BIB, and Evan Williams BIB and Henry McKenna 10 BIB for this comparison. I’m excited about this comparison because Evan Williams BIB is the delicious yet overlooked underdog, while Henry McKenna 10 is highly desired after winning major awards at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition in 2018 and 2019. Even though Evan Williams and Henry McKenna are similar at their core, they have 2 major differences: Henry McKenna is older and single barrel, while Evan Williams is younger and blended from multiple barrels. In this Evan Williams BIB vs Henry McKenna 10 BIB comparison, I want to find out how different they actually are.
You should keep in mind that Henry McKenna 10 is not what you think it is. Because Henry McKenna 10 is single barrel, Heaven Hill likely picked the best barrels for the Spirits Competitions. It’s not that Henry McKenna 10 is bad (in fact some are very good), it’s that consumers will rarely, if ever, be able to buy any that are as good as the award winners. There’s so much attention and demand for a bourbon that’s truly a gamble, but that’s often the nature of single barrel whiskeys. To be fair, I bought one bottle in the summer of 2018 because it won an award, but only one.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond bourbon.
How to Read the Chart
Evan Williams BIB is in blue, and Henry McKenna 10 is in orange. The center of the circle indicates none of a trait. Further out the line indicates a stronger presence of that trait.
The scale (from inside to out):
Evan Williams Bottled in Bond and Henry McKenna 10 Bottled in Bond Single Barrel are night and day different. Evan Williams is darker, richer, and more interesting. Blind, I would guess that it was the older and more expensive bourbon, but it’s neither. It smells like rootbeer with a little wintergreen and cherry flavor, as if it had been sherry finished, and has that Beam-esque nutty funk that I like.
This particular barrel of Henry McKenna 10 on the other hand is just not good. I get brighter citrus and apricot notes with a lot less wood, spice, and sweetness. Even at the same proof, Henry McKenna 10 is less developed and much hotter than the cheaper and younger Evan Williams. Even after having this bottle open for months and letting it breathe for 30 minutes prior to the comparison doesn’t make it any better. It’s terribly flawed.
Evan Williams BIB is the clear winner. There is one caveat though: there can be huge variance between bottles of Henry McKenna 10 due to its single barrel nature. Some truly are better than Evan Williams BIB, I just wish that was always the case.