August 20, 2020
Virgin 7 Year bourbon is strange, not because of the bourbon itself, but because of everything else about it. To the best of my knowledge, Virgin bourbon is produced by Heaven Hill and sold by Luxco (known for Old Ezra), but under a brand that only reaches parts of the south. I can’t even 100% confirm who sells it because there’s no website or marketing, but the bottle shape indicates that Luxco and/ or Heaven Hill is responsible for it.
Anyways, I believe that Evan Williams Bottled in Bond and Virgin 7 Year, both distilled and aged by Heaven Hill, are two of the best budget bourbons you can buy for under $25. They smell great, taste great, and leave my wallet feeling very hefty. Unfortunately, Virgin lost its age statement in the summer of 2019 largely in part because of the release of Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled in Bond. While I am disappointed with that news, it’s less heartbreaking if Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is a suitable replacement for Virgin 7 Year Bourbon. In this Evan Williams Bottled in Bond vs Virgin 7 Year bourbon comparison, let’s find out just how similar they are and how much I’ll miss Virgin 7 Year.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for what I am comparing.
I love Evan Williams Bottled in Bond and Virgin 7 Year, but turns out that Virgin 7 Year is the much better bourbon. No sub-$30 should be this fantastic. It was a little hot at times when I reviewed it a while ago, but Virgin 7 Year has mellowed and improved drastically over time. It’s so incredibly dark and rich on the nose and palate, crammed with brown sugar, chocolate, oak, and spiced apples. Evan Williams Bottled in Bond’s vanilla custard, slightly sour buttercream, fruits, and nuts are still very enjoyable, but clearly disappointing in comparison because it’s nowhere near as full, layered, or interesting. Assuming that Evan Williams BIB is 4 years old, Virgin’s 3 extra years of aging makes a Grand Canyon-wide difference.
I completely understand that Heaven Hill needed all that 7 year old stock for their Bottled in Bond and there was no way that Heaven Hill would willingly let Virgin 7 Year (and Old Ezra 7 Year 101) undercut them. I haven’t had Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled in Bond yet, but it can’t be two to three times better than Virgin 7 Year (~$16 vs $40-50). It’s a shame that we keep losing these great and affordable bourbons, but it’s yet another sign of the times. If you can still find Virgin 7 Year, I highly recommend that you buy it, just be patient after you open it. I miss it already.