Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2001 Bourbon Review

Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon Vintage 2001, 43.3% abv (86.6 Proof), $26-29/bottle

Color: Medium Amber

Nose: Sweet notes of deep vanilla, rich caramel, butterscotch, maple, and banana are spiced with cinnamon, all spice, and toasted oak.

Palate: A reasonably thick viscosity at this proof. A caramel and maple syrup entry are followed early with intense dry spice (cinnamon, allspice), baked red apple (cider-like), and fairly heavy oak, resin, and char.

Finish: Warm spices and dry, toasted oak dominate this long finishing whiskey.

Overall: For my tastes, the Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 Vintage was probably the best sub $30 whiskey released last year. While extremely complex and flavorful, it was also elegant, dancing on the tongue as you sipped. Stylistically there is definitely a family resemblance, but the 2001 vintage delivers it’s flavor in a very different manner. It’s thicker and stickier in mouth feel, richer and bolder in flavor (both sweet and spice), and tasting more of the wood. You might say it lacks a bit of the 2000’s balance and tact, but it makes up for it in other ways. Think of the 2001 as more rock and roll to the 2000’s symphony orchestra. Even though it’s different, it’s still an outstanding whiskey in it’s own right. Therein lies the reason I feel the Evan Williams Single Barrel is one of the best products from Heaven Hill. Each year is distinct and truly a “vintage” expression of grain, oak, and time. Highly recommended.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.1 (Outstanding/Superb)

NOTE: The 2000 vintage is still readily available. Until the 2001 is readily available in your area, take the opportunity to grab and hold a bottle or two of the 2000.


  1. I really enjoyed the 2000 vintage. I will have to give this new one a try, especially at the price point.

  2. Chris, that doesn’t surprise me that you really enjoyed the 2000 being a malt whiskey guy. The 2000 was really balanced, nice layers of spice, honey, and not overly sweet and cloying. I hate to say it this way, but more scotch-like. The 2001 is richer, denser, a bit more sweetness and definitely more barrel and wood. But very nice stuff. And as you mentioned – great price!

  3. I’m thinking I should stock up on the 2000 while it’s still around, but do look forward to comparing the two.

  4. Brad I totally agree. I bought two bottles (1 was in the review vid and one for the bunker) this past week. I say scarf ’em up. It’s truly a special whiskey for sub $30. Now mind you, that’s not to say the 2001 isn’t outstanding. For my tastes – it’s great stuff. But they are different, which is cool. Cheers!

  5. I sure wish the People’s Republic of Pennsylvania felt the EWSB was worthy enough to sell here, but seeing as how they know better than the rest of us, we’re all safely protected from it.

    That is, until our new governor dismantles the state-run liquor business! Huzzah!

  6. Yeesh, that’s a bummer. It’s really that bad eh? Wow! Well Sam, if I can *help* in any way, my email is on the site. I hear shipping is cheap this time of year. ; )

  7. I guess I’ll be the rebel here. The EWSB while good some years, is one bourbon that hasn’t really captured my attention. I have 5 bottles open right now and I know it will take some time to drain those down. Sorry to be the killjoy.

  8. Greg, as you know as well as anyone, taste is a subjective deal. We all like what we like.

    Not sure if you saw my review from last year for the 2000, but I made note of the fact that it has had some down years. In particular 98 and 99 for me were just in the “good” category only. Then I felt there were some slightly better years in 96 and 97. 94 was stellar and 95 was right up there too. So definitely a little down period in the middle.

    Some of that may have to do with moving production to Bernheim after the fire, who knows. Some of that just may be due to it being a single barrel bourbon and the differences barrel to barrel.

    All in all though, what I like about it is that each year really is different.

  9. Jason – I’m getting ready to conduct a vertical tasting of EWSB from 1988 through 2000. It will be interesting to see which years pop out as better than others. This tasting will have some twists as there were probably 4 different distillates that went into EWSB during this time period; Heaven Hill (pre-fire), Jim Beam, Brown Foreman and Bernheim.

  10. WOW! Folks that is dedication! Greg, please report back with your thoughs – can’t wait to hear about it. If you can’t find 2001 let me know.

  11. 100% agree about the 2000, definitely a bit Scotch-like. I am a malt drinker myself (just can’t afford it anymore!) so that’s a good thing. Definitely going to have to pick up the 2001 here in the next few months.

  12. Jason, may have a rare opportunity. Appears I can lay hands on the folllowing: Evan Williams Single Barrel
    1992(1), 1993(1), 1994(1), 1996 (2), 1997(2), 1998(2). numbers in parenthese and the quantities available. can afford three. can you give me a recommendation for order of purchase. Your perspective is appreciated.

  13. MrCharles203 I love this question. Love it! For me I’d grab the 1994 and 1996 FOR SURE. Those are tow of my faves of all time from the EWSB line. The 1994, 1995, 1996, and 2000 I think have been the best of the past decade. So then that leaves the tossup between 92 and 97. I’m going to say 1997 simply because I can only remember enjoying the 1992 and few details. Afraid my memory may not be strong enough to guide you correctly with 1992. Whereas the 1997 was very solid. It didn’t stick in my memory like 94, 95, and 96, but still very good.

    So here you have it:
    1) 1994
    2) 1996
    3) 1997

    I would just say grab the two 1996s, but it’s more fun to spread it around and get 3 different ones that you can sip and savor. This is too fun man – enjoy!!!! I look forward to hearing a full report.


  14. Great answer and very helpful. Now lets see if I can score on some of these. May take a few weeks but will let you know how it turns out.

  15. This one had too much oak at the finish for me. Seemed “musty” in the back half.

  16. Just managed to find and get a bottle of the 2000 here in the UK. Gotta be one of the very last few available here I’d of thought. barrel# 970. it’s my first evan williams single barrel so can’t compare it to other vintages but I can absolutely say it’s really special! I think the word you used Jason ‘elegant’ is bang on. Some really lovely flavours going in. Very drinkable indeed.

  17. Cheers. It is excellent stuff.

  18. Jason, I’ve enjoyed your reviews a great deal. You’ve been helpful in encouraging our SoCal Malties (essentially a small group of single malt fans) to reach out past the standard bottlings of Geo Dickel and Buffalo Trace. Many thanks. Especially noteworthy were the Elmer T Lee and George Dickel Special. Lovely stuff, each in its own way. Oddly enough, we reached the brink of our tolerance for sourness, heavy char and resinous elements in the Evan Williams SBB 2001. Language and taste are a funny things, aren’t they ? No doubt that one man’s rock-n-roll excitement is another man’s cacophony.

  19. JK, I am an oddball when it comes to the Evan Williams Single Barrel. Most of the enthusiasts out there don’t like it as much. I do – aged high in the warehouse the barrel interaction is big. Weirdly the 2000 was far far less oaky, charry, and flinty, but I did enjoy it. Agreed though – one man’s junk is another man’s pleasure. Thanks for commenting!

  20. Taste preferences are very personal and always correct for the taster. I’m not real sure what you meant by the aging taking place “high in the warehouse”. Is reference to the warehouse altitude (significantly higher than most above sea level, hence more evaporation in typically lower humidity) or how the barrel spirit is physically stored near to the ceiling (hence, warmer and perhaps more air circulation) ? Thanks for your insights Jason.

  21. JK, I apologize for being too vague. The outer portions of the large 4-7+ story aging warehouses are the most affected by heat and cold. Evan Williams Single Barrel is aged in the highest racks of the warehouse where the sun beats down on the top of the facility and the heat hits their first. Same with cold. This accelerates the interaction with the wood. You noted charry flavors and a lot of that (I believe) is due to where they age this whiskey. It’s something that’s also very unique year to year.

    Thanks for asking for clarification.

  22. Jason, That’s really interesting. It’s an effect I never considered (building weather). A seven story high facility could bring enormous differences inside itself in terms of the locations. And thank you for weighing-in again, so patiently and quickly with a SMM newbie. Your enthusiasm and personal courtesy sets a high bar for web interactions. Thank you !

  23. Interesting postscript: We went back to the opened EW2001 (which had sat in the cool wine closet untouched for well over a month). The whisky’s heavy char and objectionably heavy handed nature of this bottling has become quite reduced. Better for us more to our liking. It pays to check back on these things regularly; I’m not sure I’d have even recognized it as the same product frankly.

  24. Interesting indeed JK. Glad you checked back with it. I think sometimes one needs to revisit products and take stock.

  25. I must say the 2000 is quite good…blackberry comes to mind. Sippin the 2001 now, for the price you can’t go wrong. Being sensitive to many whiskys I can say with a touch of water this stuff is great, can’t say that about many that are this thick.

  26. Jason…I really enjoy your site. Any opinion on the EWSB 2002 vintage?

  27. Charlie, The 2002 is very good stuff. Review coming soon.

  28. Being a big fan of other Heaven Hill products (Elijah Craig 18 being a favorite), I was pleased when my brother brought a bottle of EW Single B for a quick visit. We polished off half the bottle and found it wonderfully rich and easy drinking. I was figuring $45 and was SHOCKED to see how low the price was.

  29. What is that cider punch thing Heaven Hill? Is this a unique barrel extraction process? I can only handle there charcoal filtered product.

  30. Unfortunately, I never got to try either of the vintages that you reviewed as I only recently got into bourbon. I did pick up a bottle of the 2002 today though and am very much enjoying it. I am interested to see how your 2002 review stacks up to the previous years. So far, I have found your numerical scores of various bourbons to be spot-on with my tastes.

  31. Jason, I got a bottle of the 2001 EWSB today (Barrel #301) today. It had been in danger of becoming a lonely little “dusty” on the shelf of my local liquor store, which sells way more beer/vodka/tequila to thirsty college kids, than good bourbon. I’m enjoying it muchly as I write this – when empty it will join others in my small but growing “shrine” where I keep the more standout bottles that I’ve had in the past few years (mostly bourbons and single malts). Do you recall whether the bottle you reviewed was from Barrel #301? -I guess it would have to have been…

  32. Outstanding flavor. Authentic sour mash character. May be the best out there for under $30.

  33. Jason, I got one bottle of EWSB 2001 and definetly you are right about the heavy char and resin you can taste on this particular bourbon. I still prefer the 2002 version.

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