I've been collecting this particular release for some time now and I have bottles that go back to 1988 distillation. The EWSB was first released in 1996 with a distillation of 1986. I have not had the first release but a friend of mine who has informed me it wasn't that good. In fact, the first release was 1995 but was not distributed at the retail level but was done more as a test run, at least that's the story told to me. The EWSB has received a number of awards over the years as reported on the Evan Williams website. The nice thing about this particular bourbon is that it's a well aged bourbon, single barrel proofed at 86.6 and runs around $20 a 750ml. Keep in mind that since it's a single barrel, there will be variations from bottle to bottle.
This year Evan Williams Single Barrel (EWSB) is sporting a new look which I actually like over the previous packaging. It's a clean simple look as far as the labeling goes, the bottle shape and black wax remains as in previous releases. The label size is under proportioned to the bottle as compared to other bourbons and I like this as it allows me an unobstructed look through the glass getting the full exposure of color.
The color is a moderate shade with hues of orange and gold, depending how it's held up to the light, in fact, the color caught my eye as I was reaching for the bottle in the package store.
Nosing this bourbon is interesting and I think more complex that other variants I've had over the years. My first thought when nosing was it smelled more like a rye whiskey than rye bourbon. On the nose is oak, rye, blue flowers and muted aspects of bubble gum, smoke and vanilla. On entry this bourbon is a little zinger; not overpowering but the rye is very present. Secondary attributes are a mild sweetness after the rye subsides, blue flowers, leather and mild flavors of bubble gum and smoke. I think the finish is unfortunately understated and dry as the short burst of rye on entry diminishes too quickly and leaves the drinker wishing for more.
I like the opening nose and flavors of this bourbon but wish the finish was longer. I purchased this bottle in the Virginia ABC store and paid $23.95 for it. This bottle was barreled on 3-30-00 and bottled on 10-14-09 from barrel 37.