Evan Williams Bourbon Review

Evan Williams Bourbon Review

The standard issue Evan Williams Bourbon comes with a black label and the “upgraded” bottled-in-bond version comes with a white label. Which is slightly interesting to me because it’s the opposite with Jim Beam whose entry level is the white label and “upgraded” version is the the black label. Though they do now have the Jim Beam Bonded which sports a gold label. Apologies if you don’t find it interesting but I’ve been a marketer for 10+ years so I always find it at least mildly interesting to see how different brands represent their products. Anywho…

Supposedly founded in 1783, Evan Williams is one of Heaven Hill’s 2 flagship brads (the other being Elijah Craig). The story as HH tells it is that Evan Williams was a Kentucky settler who started distilling in 1783 and was the first distiller in KY. However, given the long history of illicit distilling in that part of the country, there’s no way to prove that. Though there is another issue with the origin story that arises from historian Michael Veach who has evidence that Williams didn’t leave London till 1794. Historical quibbles aside, this is still a brand that’s been around for a long time and has been a part of Kentucky’s long Bourbon History.

Evan Williams Bourbon Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley
Cask: new charred oak
Age: NAS (rumored to be 5-7 years)
ABV: 43%

Price: $12

Evan Williams Bourbon Review

EYE
New leather

NOSE
Dark sweets like caramel and butterscotch pair up with some notes of vanilla frosting and corn to start things off. Hints of dark fruit, red licorice and spice soon shows up and a light touch of woody astringency arrives fashionably late.

PALATE
Caramel corn, peppery spice, dark fruit, citrus rind, imitation vanilla and corn nuts. Not wildly complex, but a far cry from being terrible.

FINISH
Medium and filled with notes of raw corny grain, caramel, peanut butter and a touch of spice.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Balanced for what it is, medium body and a light warm feel.

OVERALL
I like Evan Williams Bourbon. It’s a solid, down-to-earth bourbon that’s easy to drink neat and works alright in cocktails. It’s a bourbon that serves its purpose well when you’re having friends over and is a pleasantly sweet after-dinner whiskey. I do enjoy the Single Barrel Vintage versions of it better than this, the standard Evan Williams Black Label release, but they’re 2x the price and if you’re looking for something that’s cheap and doesn’t taste bad this is the bottle for you.

SCORE: 83/100

Evan Williams Bourbon Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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45 Responses to Evan Williams Bourbon Review

  1. Evan Williams Black label is the best everyday bourbon out there. It is hard to believe that Heaven Hill sells it so cheaply, but let’s keep that a secret. The only other bargain bourbon out there that beats this for me is Ezra Brooks. However, Ezra Brooks has a very unique taste that might not appeal to a lot of people.

  2. This is a pretty amazing bourbon for the price. Plenty good enough to drink straight/on the rocks but inexpensive enough that you won’t get mad if your friends take it with ginger ale.

  3. The last bottle of this I bought had a “soapy” aftertaste. So much so that I rinsed my glass, then tried it from a clear pastic tumbler thinking that might be the problem. In my mind, it is definitely worth the extra $3 to step up to the EW BIB. Apparently the extra proof really helps this one.

  4. This is my everyday pour. Straightforward, just enough complexity to stay interesting, enough rye (barely) to have a decent kick, not too sweet. A great bourbon at a great price.

  5. The bottle says it is charcoal filtered. Does this mean it goes through the Lincoln County Process like Tennessee whiskeys?

  6. I’ve tried any number of whiskeys/bourbons for Manhattans. EW is a terrific balance of price/taste. I’m not cheap. I do not drink bourbon straight. Maybe EW is too harsh for those who do? I recommend it without reservations.

    • I love it too, though for cocktails I prefer the Bottled In Bond. I always like having something with a bit more kick when I’m mixing, but that’s just me. Cheers!

  7. Just and outstanding value and maybe the worst label in the whale my game. Looks like a knock off Jack Daniels, even I did it to be far better. It is far better than many of is ten dollar more competitors (looking at you, Bulleit!), and it’s lack of complexity is one of its virtues. We all need that daily drinker that we don’t have to think about. I hate Bkurbons with too much spice, so the simple, caremel, vanilla, corn heavy bourbons are up my alley. All this to say that outside of George Dickel, 8 this is easily my fav of the affordable American whiskeys.

  8. This is the great go to ! I’ve also tried the bonded and didnt care for it near as much . It’s one I usually have on hand . I just dont think it can be beat for the money . I honestly cant think of a better bourbon thats equal in price or cheaper . I visited their FB page one time and made a comment on it . They liked the comment , apparently , and sent me a hat , shirt etc .. I thought that was kinda neat . They really do a nice job with this one . In these parts I do see Heaven Hill products quite a bit and the Evan Williams black is very popular from the amount of floor space it takes up . It’s the best deal out there . In the world of pipe tobacco , it would be Mac Baren Golden Extra in bulk .. the best deal in teh pipe tobacco world . The two go together quite amazingly and frequently 🙂

  9. I’m a fairly new bourbon drinker and EWBL can’t be beat for the value! My palette is still unrefined but I like it much better than Jim Beam White Label, as well as some other more expensive bourbons (Bulleit and Eagle Rare come to mind). This will be a staple and I look forward to trying the BiB, based on Josh’s recommendation.

  10. I think the black lable is the BEST “value bourbon” on the market-bar none. Quite complex for the price. Ironically I love Elijah Craig also, but DO NOT like the BIB? I normally LOVE BIB bourbons; Old Grand Dad, etc, etc. But the Black label tastes better than the BIB White label to me. A strange mystery?

  11. This is a very good Bourbon. It is a nice starter for beginners. However it’s also good for more experienced pallets. Jim Beam had been my Favorite cheap Bourbon. But IMHO this is much bett

  12. There’s no such thing as a bad bourbon. Some are better than others. I salute Evan Williams. Just mixed with pineapple soda and it’s delicious. BOOM !

  13. We Love our *EVAN WILLIAMS*! Drinking *FINE KENTUCKY BOURBAN* while Watching THE KENTUCKY DERBY!!! ALWAYS DREAMING and *EVAN WILLIAMS* BOTH WINNERS

  14. Hi Josh, I just want to say how much I love your site/blog and your reviews! I want to start by saying that I am definitely more of a single malt guy than a bourbon guy. I’m in the wine & spirits business and I would say I know a thing or two about fine wines and spirits, and I’m not ashamed to say that Evan Williams might be my favorite overall bourbon. For my money, it is probably the best deal in spirits period. You describe it as a being a “down-to-earth” bourbon, and I would concur. I just personally think of bourbon as a more down-to-earth kind of spirit. I have tried a number of “super-premium”, really old bourbons, and I almost always find them unbalanced and not really representing what bourbon is to me. I like Evan Williams because it has the nice typical caramel and vanilla bourbon notes, has a great sweet, corny, grainy, slightly twangy, slightly savory flavor and a great yeasty quality that I just adore. It has a great, but not overpowering, oak presence, a nice spice from the rye, and it does not have the alcoholic acetone character that I find in many bourbons. I suppose I just personally have a bit of a disconnect with many of the “super-premium” bourbons. I know this is long, but I just wanted to share. P.S. I also like Bulleit Bourbon & Rye, especially for cocktails, but they’re like 3x the price and I still can’t say I like them better for sipping.

    • Cheers Ethan. Thank you and thanks for sharing. I love reading other’s opinions about this stuff. I really like Bulleit Rye for cocktails, but I like the Dickel Rye (same thing charcoal filtered) more for both sipping and cocktails. If you haven’t had it try it!

  15. Ok. I couldn’t resist EW at $13.95 (on sale) here in NC vs (my fav) Buffalo Trace which goes for $29 here in Raleigh. I realize it’s comparing apples & pineapples but EW in an Old Fashioned doesn’t really cut it. BT smells wonderful, EW, not as nice. The EW 100 proof too is a bit overwhelming. Sorry. Gotta stick with the Buffalo.

  16. Josh,
    Just picked up a handle of this for 15.99 and wasn’t expecting much considering the price. Boy was I wrong! This Bourbon is fantastic. I plan on pouring this for the adults on Halloween. Trick or treat for the kids and trick or drink for the adults. Great blog and reviews too.

  17. Evan Williams is the best tasting sour mash whisky I have ever tried. It is super smooth, with no sour after taste. I also enjoy all rye whiskys for the same reason. Bullet Rye, Crown Royal Winter Harvest, (Canadian Whisky of the year 2017), George Dickel Rye, Wild Turkey Rye, Jim Beam Rye & Burbon, all great tasting. But E.W. is inexpensive Whisky, I love it.

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