Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2002

For my next review I decided to review something other than a scotch, so I have flown (figuratively at least) across the pond to America to review a bourbon and it is one from Kentucky’s first distiller. Evan Williams first began distilling his Bourbon on the banks of the Ohio River in 1783. 

Evan Williams Single Barrel_Bourbon_The Smoky DramWhisky: Evan Williams Single Barrel, 43.3% ABV (Cost around R370)

Region: Kentucky, USA

Style: Bourbon

 Age: 10 years

Before getting into some details on the Single Barrel, here is some information on what makes a Bourbon different to a whisky. By law, Bourbon must be made up of at least 51% corn and aged for a minimum of 2 years in a new charred white oak barrels. Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, though almost all brands are made in Kentucky. Furthermore, Kentucky is the only state allowed to put its name on the bottle.

The barrels are all pretty much the same in the beginning. The “White Dog” that goes into the barrels as it leaves the still is the same from barrel to barrel. What turns a standard barrel into one of the Single Barrel Bourbons depends on a couple of things: where they put the barrel and how long they let it stay there. When it comes time to bottle the Bourbon, they concentrate on the barrels that have been stored in key rick house locations – mostly where there are extreme temperature changes. As the contents of each barrel reacts to these extreme temperature changes, the whiskey actually moves through the char layer inside the barrel and builds colour and character. Then, when the Bourbon has aged long enough, the distiller would taste a sample to determine if it has matured to the level required for Single Barrel status.

Colour: Burnished gold to auburn/burnt amber and has with very thick and slow legs.

Nose: Starts off with an earthiness, sweet wood and an extremely slight smokiness, before moving on to candied sweetness, boiled sweets and burnt caramel. A nose that is soft and delicate, that with time in glass, becomes a gorgeous creamy vanilla and warm puddings (malva or sticky toffee). Also picking up traces of spice – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Palate: Smooth with a lovely spiciness (wood spice) to it, as well as fruity notes of sweet baked apples. The spice I get is focused mostly on the tip of tongue. Pleasant spicy sweetness to it, like cinnamon mixed with maple syrup or caramel, and has an almost thick syrupy mouth feel to it.

Finish: Long, rich and mellow finish that has a growing warmth to it. Similarly has a spiciness (but a sweet spiciness) that moves from the tip of tongue to the back of the throat together with a hint of sweetness (caramel again) at the end.

Overall: As Bourbons go this one really is a cracker. Such a well-rounded and rich Bourbon, with a lovely balance to it, especially between the sweetness and spiciness. Very delicious and tempting. So much so that you just cannot help another dram or two.

My Score: 85

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