Saturday, March 26, 2011

Evan Williams Single Barrel 12 Year Vertical - First 4 years

As I mentioned, I'm hosting a vertical tasting with 12 enthusiasts participating. We've completed the first 4 years; 1988 through 1991. So far, there hasn't been a standout bourbon in the lot but I'm hopeful something will pop up as worthy of discussion among the group. I've found this tasting to be interesting for one simple reason. Two of the years we've tasted through received high ratings from industry reviewers. Our rating system used is as follows:

95-100 A Classic Whiskey

90-94 Excellent

85-89 Good, Clearly above average

80-84 Average

75-79 Fair

74 and below - pass

Year: 1988

Year Barreled: 11/16/88

Barrel Number: 263

No Bottling Date

Rating and overall impressions: The collective rating for this year was 81.4 which is average. This bourbon didn't impress the group with some stating is was thin, hot on the finish and uninspiring. Yah, I agree.

Year: 1989

Year Barreled: 10/26/89

Barrel Number: 161

No Bottling Date

Rating and overall impressions: The collective rating for this year was 79.75, fairing worse than 1988. The group indicated the nose being light almost to the point of no aroma at all. One really had to breath in deep to discern anything on this one. The group also indicated this particular year had a cereal or grainy quality to it making this one just fair.

Year: 1990

Year Barreled: 12/20/90

Barrel Number: 140

No Bottling Date

Rating and overall impressions: The collective rating for this year was 80.6. For the first three years, we're within less than a point from lowest to highest rating. The tasting notes had positive things to say about the entry profile containing caramel, floral and orange notes, mint and brown sugar. I thought this was better than the two previous years but the finish was a little drying to me. Here's the kicker, Spirit Journal dubbed this 1990 bourbon "Whiskey Of The Year". Go figure.

Year: 1991

Year Barreled: 10/18/91

Barrel Number: 003

No Bottling Date

Rating and overall impressions: The collective rating for this year was 82.4, the best so far but still just average based on the rating system. Interesting the tasting notes from the group overwhelmingly included notes of citrus. Other qualities included oak, brown sugar and corn. For me, this one was the best second best of the lot as I like the '90 slightly better. From the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center website "Like a fine wine, each bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon contains a vintage date telling the exact day it was put in an oak barrel to age. Every year, a new vintage of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage is released to critical acclaim. The 1990 Vintage was the first Bourbon to be awarded "Whiskey of the Year" by The Spirit Journal. The 1991 Vintage was awarded "Domestic Whiskey of the Year" by The Malt Advocate and "Spirit of the Year" by Wine & Spirits."

So far nothing has jumped out as worthy to bunker but we still have 8 years to go so let's hope subsequent years are more inviting.


  1. I'm hoping you guys find at least one year that is better than average. It would certainly suck to have all of them end up in this same range. I've only tried the 1999 and found it to be average at best, but I'm hoping my Binny's 2000 (unopened) fairs better. Also have a 1998 that's unopened so I'll definitely be interested in your groups impressions of that one.

    On a different note, I bought 3 more Pappy 20's but only one is for me. Hope you continue to be happy with your influence in helping me spend my hard earned money

  2. Gary - some early feedback may indicate the next two years fair better than the previous years. I am happy to hear you're buying quality bourbon. Keep up the good work.

  3. Hi Greg — would like to speak with you about a new bourbon, send you a press release and a sample. What’s the best email address for you?

  4. You may contact me at Thanks.