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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2001

Heaven Hill filled their six millionth barrel of whiskey today, on the 75th anniversary of the very day they filled their first barrel of whiskey, way back in 1935. Congratulations to my good friends at Heaven Hill -- the largest independent, family-owned distiller in America -- on this landmark accomplishment, and on this auspicious anniversary. I have to say that Heaven Hill is doing great: their other spirits brands are selling well (and get excellent reviews on quality and value, a Heaven Hill hallmark), and their whiskey is getting more well-deserved attention than ever.

Which seems like a good excuse to crack open this fresh bottle of the new Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2001 they sent me and have a taste. It will be out on the market in January, at a suggested retail of $26 (see what I mean about value?). Let's get at it.

First I had to wait for the whiskey to warm up -- I'm a cheap bastard when it comes to heating the home, and when it's just me here in the house during a working day, I keep the thermostat at 62 or lower. Not a great temp for tasting bourbon! So, warmed in my hands, the EWSB is starting to express itself. It's a markedly sweet nose, almost candy-like and tinged with vanilla, with a hint of wood spice, a touch of cedar, and real Heaven Hill/Parker Beam character. It's creamy on the tongue, like hot oil, and definite with corn, with a strong flip of spice on the end. This is not a cloying bourbon, not a lush one; the wood takes a firm hand. But it's not drying and astringent, either.

There's a very nice balance here between these two major bourbon components. There's a tendency among crazed bourbon aficionados to get 'Scotch envy' and go for the older, woodier bourbons; the Japanese, apparently, take that to an extreme. I've had some excellent older bourbons and ryes, but...there's a sweet spot here around 8 to 12 years that I'm really getting to like, though I'll happily admit that I love the Van Winkle 15, too. At 9 years old, this vintage, single barrel whiskey is hitting it right between the eyes.


sam k said...

Just commented opn John's blog that Elijah Craig, at an almost astounding 12 years old and 94 proof, is available here in PA at less than $40 a 1.75 liter. Heaven Hill is my American distilling hero!

I hope we gat a chance at the new single barrel here, too.

Tony Clifton said...

Just picked up a bottle of the 2000 Vintage at the local grocery store; for $24 how could I go wrong?

If the 2000 is good then I'll definitely pick up a bottle of the 2001.