Evan Williams 9yo 2000/2010 (43.3%, OB, Single Barrel #379)

Sometimes Master Quill tends to repeat himself, well, not really this time. Yes, In the fall of 2015, The Master did do a review of an Evan Williams Single Barrel bottling, and now here is yet another, but not a repetition, because luckily this “new” one is from a different vintage. The former review was this spicy 2003 vintage and this time we’ll have a go at a 2000 vintage. Is older better? I understand that the mash-bill for Evan Williams Single Barrel looks something like this: 78% corn, 12% barley and 10% rye. Lots of corn and not a lot of rye in this mash-bill. The “vintage” range already saw the light of day in 1986, so with this 2000 expression, Heaven Hill already had some 15 years of experience bottling this. So without further ado: take it away Evan, ehhh Master, ehhh Quill. Nevermind. Go, just take it away…

Color: Light orange brown.

Nose: Wood, lots of fresh cut oak. Perfumy. Sweetish and even more floral. Wood driven, but with lots going for it. Balanced and likeable. Greener notes come next, some hay and grass, oak and latex wall paint. More cuttings from the garden and after a while some more fruity notes appear. Slightly acidic and fresh, only adding to the balance. Hints of toffee and caramel. Excellent nose if you ask me. One moment fresh and lively and the next, deeper and more brooding. Definitely some Rye in here, but less so than expected, even though I didn’t expect a lot. After some more breathing, honey notes come forward. Smelling this after some sipping only enhance the honey notes that were almost absent from the start. Interesting.

Taste: On first entry, a bit thin to be honest. I prefer Bourbons at high strength, because especially Bourbons release their intricate aroma’s better at a higher proof. That said, this Single barrel smells very good and is definitely interesting (there is that word again), even when you like your Scotch Whiskies. Another sip. Well, this does the trick, beyond the low proof, some nice aroma’s emerge. Wood, latex paint again. Honey, hints of toasted oak and a tiny hint of leather. Definitely not as sweet as I would imagine, even though this Bourbon saw lots of corn. A slightly bitter note comes next, oak, tree sap, wax. The finish has less length than the nose and is also less complex. medium at best (and it has paper notes). Today the bitterness has some staying power which was less so on other days, so it depends on the taster (as always), time of day and the moment trying it. Aftertaste somewhat indistinct, so it definitely suffers from reduction to 43.3% ABV. Nope, in the taste department, this turns out to be much simpler than the nose promised.

For a nice evening with some Bourbons this is the starter. Well priced, and interesting, but I prefer other, (higher strength) Bourbons more. Compared to the earlier review, this 2000 example is softer (weaker is maybe a better word this time around) and less spicy, and also is lacking the licorice and cherry notes of the 2003. The 2003 is definitely a step up from the 2000. So yes, the date makes a difference. So choose your single cask vintage Evan Williams wisely!

Points: 81

Heaven Hill 9yo (61.5%, Cadenhead, Individual Cask, Bourbon Barrel, 192 bottles, 2006)

All that talk about soapy florality in the Millstone “100 Rye”, made me remember this bottle of Heaven Hill bottled by Cadenhead. Actually this is a very interesting bottle since it is from Heaven Hill’s previous distillery. Heaven Hill Bardstown FireThe Heaven Hill distillery was located in Bardstown (DSP-KY-31) and it burned down on the 7th of november 1996. With the distillery, also 7 of the 44 warehouses were destroyed by the fire, containing some 90.000 casks. Even the water supply caught on fire. Since this bottle is 9 years old and bottled in may 2006, it is distilled somewhere between may 1996 and may 1997. The new distillery, Heaven Hill bought, is the former Bernhem distillery (DSP-KY-1), which is located in Louisville. The Cadenheads label clearly states that the distilling was done in Bardstown, so this means that this particular bottle is yielded from a single cask that was filled just before the fire and somehow managed to survive the fire, assuming it was ageing on site. One question thus remains, is this Bourbon going to be smoky or did it sleep through the fire?

Heaven Hill 9yo (61.5%, Cadenhead, Individual Cask, Bourbon Barrel, 192 bottles, 2006)Color: Dark orange brown.

Nose: Initially very floral, but that somehow manages to escape. Typically high Rye mashbill florality, or is it wheat, since this does remind me quite a bit of the very special Old Fitzgerald 12yo, also distilled by Heaven Hill. Otherwise not very “big” but soft and dry, dusty even. Caramel. Toasted cask. Hints of gravy and toffee. Soft oak and a bit sweet. Promises some sort of chewiness. Pretty is probably a good word for it. Give it some time, or better, al lot of time to breathe the more classic notes emerge, like honey, which finally defines the sweetness. The honey is well-integrated with the woody nose. Burnt wood yes (cask toast), but not smoky.

Taste: Quite a woody bite and there you have it, quite the soapy, floral Rye experience. A lot of flowers pass over my tongue. Lilac, lily-of-the-valley, lavender and tulips. Wow I never got this before! Grannies laundry. Very unusual stuff. The florality disappears down my throat, leaving me with a less floral finish than I initially thought. The aftertaste is more centered around a burnt toffee and creamy soft caramel, wood and soft leather. Only a mere hint of florality. Very unique and layered Bourbon. Never tried anything like this before. Even the most floral Four Roses, is not as floral as this. This one needs some time to develop and definitely needs time get used to. In no way is it a bad Bourbon though, but this will never be your average daily drinker stuff. Very educational. I’m pleased I came across this one.

Again a very good reminder that many Whiskies, whichever kind, need time and air to breathe and compose themselves. A lot is said about using water with Whisky, but air is just as important as water. I prefer giving Whisky some time. Maybe I should be starting to decant my Whiskies some more?

Points: 82

Evan Williams 10yo 2003/2013 (43.3%, OB, Single Barrel #654)

Whisk(e)y certainly is a very global thing. Just read back a few posts and we have already been in Speyside, Scotland, Bangalore, India, and for this review we’ll cross another big Pond to have a look at a Bourbon called Evan Williams Vintage 2003 from Kentucky. This is a single barrel bottling. The barrel was filled on the eleventh of february 2003 and bottled on the last day of July 2013. Evan Williams himself, was a character who at the time of choosing the name, was supposedly the first person to distil Whiskey in Louisville Kentucky. In the end we may never know who was the first since not a lot is known from that time. Evan Williams Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made by Heaven Hill Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, but bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky. Today the range consists of a Black Label, a Bottled in Bond (White Label) a 1783 (small batch) and we will have a look at this 2003 vintage single barrel. In the past also a special 23yo was released.

Evan Williams Vintage 2003Color: Light orange gold.

Nose: Nicely sweet and toffeed. Good wood notes. Nutty and organic. Very spicy, balanced with quite some vanilla from the virgin oak. Pencil shavings, sawdust and quite a lot of honey and hot bees wax. It also carries hints of grass and cherries. Smells strict and modern.

Taste: Initially light and vegetal. Dry leaves, soft oak, but quickly followed by a nice mixture of wood and sweetness, with a hint of licorice. Very appetizing and likeable. Short finish, and the its way to light too. The watery finish drowns the plethora of aroma’s that are still there. Bummer. Luckily it does leave a pleasantly sweet, sawdust and honeyed aftertaste.

What baffles me the most is the strangely low ABV for a super premium bottling Bourbon, especially since there are quite a few other expressions of Evan Williams around that are also low proof. Maybe this is Heaven Hills low proof Bourbon brand? This is a very nice Bourbon, but still seems to be marketed as an easy drinking Bourbon for the masses despite its super premium status. I would like to see a single barrel bottling like this, (with this mashbill and ageing plan), to be bottled at barrel strength. Not necessarily replacing this reduced version though. I would like to see it as an addition.  I’m hoping that cask strength vintage Evan Williams can be really a stunner. Sure Heaven Hill has other brands, but I like the taste and the flavor profile of the Evan Williams and would like to try it at cask strength. Please?

Points: 84

Bourbon Week – Day 7: Parker’s Heritage 1996/2007 (63.7%, OB, First Edition, 750 ml)

Sadly the Bourbon week is almost over. I had a lot of fun with it and (re)discovered some true gems of American Distilling. I’ll definitively do another Bourbon Week again. So, to close this week off, here is the first edition of the Parker’s Heritage Collection of Heaven Hill. Distilled in 1996 the year of the fire, so we can’t be sure where this is distilled. If it is from before the fire, than it’s from the original distillery in Bardstown. If it is from after the fire it can be sourced from anywhere or even distilled by Heaven Hill distilled in another distillery where they rented time to distill. It’s not from the new plant (the old Bernheim plant in Louisville), since they started to distill there from 2000 onwards.

Color: Brown

Nose: Very deep slow-moving smell, that has to be force-sniffed out of the glass (a Glencairn). I’ll give it some time. On paper this seems to be a brute, and brutes can be very shy. Gravy with toffee, still very closed. Overall the gravy plays a big part as a component for this nose. Almost like it’s a syrup, a sense of foreboding. Like a giant, waiting to erupt. For now its still quiet. It smells of a caramel cain, or something we Dutch call “Hopjes” a kind of caramel, coffee, toffee candy. Yeah, that’s it. Slowly the wood comes out. Plain oak, no elegant polished mahogany, but slow-moving unpainted oak and sawdust. Mind you, the oak smell and the sawdust are two different smells. Also a food-like sourness that seems to be partnered with the gravy and the Hopjes.

Taste: Wow, what a body. Again dry wood combined with a rum-like depth and virtual sweetness. Tarry and thick. Halfway through a short burst of wood and char, that moves away again, to leave room for the return of the rum. It’s maybe a tad unbalanced in the finish and the strength and the deep refined taste doesn’t make this for everybody, but if you’re into this, well it doesn’t get any better than this. For me this is a Bourbon that didn’t have a lot of rye in the mash bill.

This is one where the word savoring was invented for. Just give this a lot of time, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy this. Just drink this when you have a moment alone for some contemplation. Don’t let it be interrupted by noise or by the feeling you still have to do something. A bedtime dram, when you’re the last one to go to bed. Top, have fun with it!

Points: 87

P.S. Reading around a bit, some claim this is a Wheated Bourbon made by Bernheim meant for Old Fitzgerald. others claim that it is made in the Original Heaven Hill Distillery (Bardstown) in April 1996, before the fire that was in November 1996. You decide what it is…