June 4, 2019
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% malted barley
Aged: At least 4 years old per bottled in bond rules
Price: $15-20 MSRP (750mL), also comes in 1L
From the Evan Williams website:
“Evan Williams set up his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River in 1783 and is historically recognized as Kentucky’s First Distiller of Bourbon. This special Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon is a genuine Sour Mash that honors his pioneering heritage. Bottled in Bond Status is earned only by meeting strict government standards, originally passed in 1897 to ensure quality and consistency. In accordance with these standards, this Bourbon is 100 proof, aged at least 4 years, and produced at a single distillery within a single distillation season.”
Evan Williams Bottled in Bond (BIB), also known as Evan Williams White, is part of Heaven Hill’s entry to mid-level range of bourbons. From cheapest to most expensive, Evan Williams comes in green, black, 1783 small batch, white (the one in this review), single barrel, and age-stated limited editions only sold at the distillery. There are flavored versions too, but I’m not going there.
The key thing to know about this Evan Williams BIB and bottled in bond bourbons in general is that they must be at least 4 years old and 100 proof. So even without an age statement, we can be confident that Evan Williams White is a blend of barrels that are at least 4 years old, although nothing is stopping Heaven Hill from using older barrels. Heaven Hill also offers Henry McKenna 10 Single Barrel, their 10-year-old BIB bourbon. Unfortunately, I’ve already been greatly disappointed by Henry McKenna 10, so let’s start this Evan Williams Bottled in Bond review and hope for the best.
Evan Williams Bottled in Bond begins with sweet caramel, brown sugar, and honey with vanilla and roasted marshmallows, immediately followed by a noticeable floral, malty, and nutty crushed peanut shell scent. For better or worse, it has the same polarizing nutty “Beam funk” that’s also in Booker’s. A little bit of cherry, orange, and a slice of baked apple on top of cornbread also contribute to the sweetness and nuttiness to provide a little extra complexity. Moderate amounts of slightly musty roasted oak influence add cinnamon, nutmeg, and raw cocoa, and the corn mash provides a slightly buttery coconut milk scent to round out the nose. For 100 proof, the alcohol in Evan Williams BIB is also well subdued.
Swirling really kicks up the alcohol, so I suggest that if you swirl it, give it a moment to calm down afterwards. Now I’m able to smell a little more vanilla buttercream and coconut vanilla hazelnut coffee creamer, as well as slightly musty pine wood and a handful of crushed peanuts. While Evan Williams Bottled in Bond / White may be “cheap”, it smells more expensive than it actually is.
Just like the nose, Evan Williams White hits my mouth with sweet caramel, vanilla, cherries, and figs, followed by a light floral nuttiness in the middle of my palate, and ending with moderate charred wood, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It’s definitely sugar forward with supporting dark fruits, nuts, and wood. The combination of dark sweetness, vanilla, mint, and something herbal that I can’t quite identify create a pleasant root beer scent. “Chewing” provides the same wave of sugars, but now I taste a little more fuji apple and marshmallow, as well as cinnamon, nutmeg, and buttery and coconut-y corn mash. The mint and anise is light, but that’s not surprising since rye only makes up 10% of the mash. The alcohol overall also is fairly moderated. If anything, the extra proof adds extra sweetness that help boost the flavors without much extra heat.
The finish is lightly sweet with caramel, marshmallows, and dried orange peel that transition into slightly bitter wood tannins and cocoa. Chewing allows the alcohol to linger a little longer, as well as the sweet corn, honey, citrus peel, and wood tannins. Anise, from the rye, finally comes forward after 20 or so seconds as everything else fades. Although Evan Williams BIB may not have the most complex flavors, it does a lot of things well, although I can see some not liking it, especially the nuttiness.
I really enjoy Evan Williams Bottled in Bond. It’s quite sweet, but the nutty, woody, spicy, and dark fruity qualities help balance it all out to create a really delicious bourbon, though some may not love the nuttiness. The 100 proof also provides extra character without adding much harshness, especially nice for something that’s a “budget” bourbon. It’s similar to Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut, which is 5 years old and 100 proof, but not quite as complex as EH Taylor Small Batch (also bottled in bond).
While Evan Williams White may not be the most complex or interesting whiskey, it’s still a great combination of affordable (although I don’t take price into consideration when rating), delicious, and easy to find that make it a worthy and guilt-free daily sipper. It’s yet another excellent “budget” bourbon for you to try, and you may end up really liking it too.
As an aside, I can also confidently say that Evan Williams BIB is better than my bottle of Henry McKenna 10. I’ll even go as far to say that because Evan Williams is made in batches and therefore more consistent, it’s better than at least half of the Henry McKenna 10’s out there too. Did I mention that it’s also half the price of Henry McKenna 10? It’s something to consider as you journey out there for whiskey. Evan Williams BIB is just a really good bourbon with no hype and no overblown demand.