Thursday, May 5, 2011

Evan Williams Single Barrel 12 Year Vertical – Final 4 years

Here we are with the final four years of the EWSB tasting. For me, this kind of confirmed how I already felt about this particular bourbon; it's an average bourbon. I find this somewhat interesting since this is a 10 year old bourbon, I would think the variations from year to year would be more extreme but the reality is, among the dozen or so tasters, this bourbon broke to the middle as an average bourbon.

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: 1996

Year Barreled: 10/18/96

Barrel Number: 723

Bottled on: 11/17/06

Rating and overall impressions: The collective rating for this year was 83.5% which is on the high side of average. One taster stated "The EWSB profile, coupled with the low 86 proof seem to be a very safe, unambitious platform."

"A good bourbon that runs in the middle of the pack"

"This, along with the 1995, is one of the best of them so far"

"Nice average bourbon with no flaws"

"So for this year, looks to be same same"

Year: 1997

Year Barreled: 1/16/97

Barrel Number: 556

Bottled on: 6/8/07

Rating and overall impressions: The bell curve on this one was pretty much non-existent. This year EWSB broke high to low with 40% rating is average or above average by an even split and then 60% rating it fair to pass on this one. Comments included:

"Nothing special….."

"Bitter, young tasting, simple"

"Solid Bourbon"

"Bitter but still thin and watery"

Year: 1998

Year Barreled: 11/23/98

Barrel Number: 827

Bottled on: 10/22/08

Rating and overall impressions: Again, this year lacked a curve whatsoever. In fact, two tasters rated this excellent all the way down to two more rating is as a pass. Overall rating for this year was 81.3%, barely making it into average territory.

"Flawed and I question whether this is drinkable. Worst of the tasting…."

"This is nice stuff. I'd buy a handle"

"I think I'm starting to repeat myself….drinkable but nothing exceptional"

"…the best by far for me, dyno!"

Year: 1999

Year Barreled: 6/21/99

Barrel Number: 234

Bottled on: 3/9/09

Rating and overall impressions: This final year rated a 82%....I know, shocking! This last couple of years I believe were Jim Beam bourbon although it could have been Brown Forman. Some comments…..

"Apple cider meets lemonade…..mild and satisfying"

"….flat, some heat…pedestrian bourbon flavor"

"…this last of the sampling is my favorite. It is a very pleasant pour…"

"Evan Williams has gotten better over the years"

"….nothing there really to enjoy"

So there you have it. The overall score for all 12 years was an astounding 81.7%. 12 years of single barrel bourbons that in the end break to just average overall. To be honest, I really thought there would be some stars in this line up but guess it wasn't to be. I'll say it again; taste is subjective so if you like this particular bourbon, it's a great value at about $24 a 750ml. For the most part it's simple, unassuming and consistent. Not a resounding thumbs up for the EWSB brand. There were a number of years that rated very high with industry reviewers but here among us mere pedestrians, we gave 66% of the years an average rating. Now that this tasting is done, let's drink something better than average.


  1. I do no not feel the EW SB is a value given the number of bourbons I can find for far less $$ and enjoy more.... in all honesty I find it to be overpriced for what it delivers. The EW BIB beats the pants off every EW SB I have tried... and I have tried quite a few. Given the scores the "$$ reviewers" dump on this whiskey one can only conclude the barrels are cherry picked or the reviewers are biased in their ratings. This is one that I would like to see included into a double blind tasting the "$$ reviewers" would do.... then again double blind and "$$ reviewers" are mutually exclusive.

  2. I wouldn't say it's an average bourbon, it can be but mostly comes off as inconsistent (as all Heaven Hill bourbons do IMO).
    Of the 5 bottles I've had 2 were great, two were awful and 1 was okay. The 2 great were a '98 and '00, the bad was a '00 and a '99 and the ok was another '99.
    I've read about this numerous times from people who have purchased EWSB and this never jives with the superb ratings reviewers give it. Whatever they get is obviously cherry picked as Reid says.

  3. EWSB is consistently bland and rough all at once, which is odd for something so watered-down. The 1996-2000 nose like a half-empty can of beer that spent the 4th of July on a picnic table, and taste like the watered-down juice of a mealy apple and a corn husk kissed with a splash of VO5 hairspray--for purposes of having a finish... a mach 3 fleeting burst of a watery alcohol finish. Strongly echo sentiments about B.S. reviews. Year-in-and-out this stuff remains a step down the flavor ladder from cheaper BIB and standard blend bourbons, and as is a litmus test for a review's integrity... that corporate ringer EWSB sample might shine, but they know what the sea of middling stuff off the shelf is like. I suspect reviews play along bcz they see EWSB as an easy way to toss the hoi polloi a 'value priced' bone whilst pleasing a mega-bucks advertiser all at once.

  4. VO5 spray? That's a new one.