Bourbon Review: Evan Williams 1783 & Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond

As we soldier on in 2015 (it’s already March!) Sour Mash Manifesto continues to take a look at value priced American Whiskey. A few readers provided a great reason (comments section) to take a look at Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch. While purchasing EW 1783 I also locked in on Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond (OHHBIB). Some of you may have seen my review a couple years back of Evan Williams White Label Bottled in Bond. You can check that one out here. Given that OHHBIB is from the same producer (Heaven Hill), and bottled at the same proof, it has some promise.

Before we tuck in here, let’s consider the fact that both of these bourbons are in the $12 range. You may even find them cheaper depending where you live. Price never factors in reviews on this website, but it always factors when determining the value proposition.

Evan_Williams1783_10_Year_Old_Kentucky_Straight_Bourbon_4393939Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch Bourbon, 43% abv (86 proof), $12/bottle
Color: Medium Amber
Nose: Caramel, vanilla, ripe orchard fruits (apple), cinnamon toast, a touch of flint and river rock earthiness. Moderate oak backbone.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, baked apple, with bitter oak notes emerging mid palate.
Finish: Warm barrel spices and a long lingering finish.
Overall: Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch is an excellent whiskey. The wood influence is greater in comparison to Old Heaven Hill, but still a composed and balanced whiskey. It packs a good deal of depth and complexity of flavor at such a great price. We all win!
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.5 Excellent

20131212oldheavenhillOld Heaven Hill Bottled In Bond Bourbon , 50% abv (100 proof), $12/bottle
Color: Medium Amber
Nose: Vanilla, nougat, almond toffee, banana peel, and a twinge of sour mash. Candy shop aromas abound, but it’s still bright and lively.
Palate: Vanilla, caramel, and toffee up front, warming quickly with barrel spices. Some welcomed bitterness emerges late on the palate. With a splash of water, apple and banana notes are present. Very classic bourbon flavors and well balanced whiskey.
Finish: Bitter caramel, cinnamon and clove spices, some lingering fruit. Moderate length finish.
Overall: In a nutshell, Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond reminds me that there’s some tremendous bourbons available at incredible prices. This is right there with Evan Williams White Label Bottled in Bond and Old Barton Bottled in Bond in terms of quality and value. If you prefer something a little milder and less barrel influenced – you may even enjoy OHHBIB more than both. Excellent whiskey at $12. Again – we all win!
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.7 Excellent

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch and Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond are two excellent whiskeys at exceptional prices. You cannot mistake the family resemblance between them, but each whiskey has a little different attitude. EW1783, while lower in proof, has a little more zip and spice, with OHHBIB a more balanced whiskey. Pick your poison, or just grab both for the price of one good bourbon these days.

Drink your bourbon!

35 Comments

  1. Thanks for reviewing these. I’ve had neither, unfortunately. Is HHBiB only in select states? Regardless, if both are comparable to EWBiB, count me in.

  2. GQuiz says:

    Anyone know if the HHBiB is available in Texas? I know Evan White is here. Jason, my wallet thanks you for this review.

  3. phillip says:

    Jason, I was in a Western Kentucky liquor store & bought 4 bottles of inexpensive BIB bourbons (JTS Brown, Old Fitzgerald, JW Dant, & Heaven Hill). The Heaven Hill bottle is 100 proof, BIB, but it has a white background label with green lettering. Totally different than the one in your picture. It also says: Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon, it does not have the word Old in front of Heaven Hill, just Heaven Hill. Is this the same product that you reviewed here, or is this another animal? I think I paid $12 for a 750ml. bottle. Has Heaven Hill changed the label on the 100 proof BIB bottle or is this a different entity?

  4. Andrew says:

    Phillip, what you have is the white labeled Heaven Hill BiB which Jason has provided a link up above in the first paragraph for his video review from 2012.

    As for availability, depends on where you live. While 1783 is quite readily available down here in So. FL, trying to locate the white or gold labeled BiB have been a bit tougher find. Eventually, I found the Old Heaven Hill at a local store a couple years back while looking for the white label after Jason’s review. Found it good enough to keep around the house as a daily pour. Not seen the white label in the wild as of yet, however, I believe one of the big box stores may now be carrying it. Just a bit of a drive to get there. As I have plenty here at the house, that search will have to wait until next time I am in that part of town.

  5. phillip says:

    Andrew, Thanks for the comments. I went to the 2012 review that you mentioned (Jason’s link in the first paragraph) but what it took me to was Evan Williams White Label BIB. My bottle is definitely labeled Heaven Hill, not Evan Williams. This isn’t really a problem but I just wondered if the Old Heaven Hill BIB is the SAME bourbon as the Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon BIB. Is it the same whiskey in the 2 differently labeled bottles, have they just updated/changed the label on the bottle, or are they 2 different whiskeys?

  6. Andrew says:

    ****Correction****
    The link above is for a review of the Evan Williams white labeled bourbon and not Heaven Hill. Sorry about that. That review’s comments does mention the Heaven Hill white labeled product but there is no official review.

  7. Andrew says:

    Phillip, they are indeed two distinct bourbons. From what I remember, in the past the gold label was aged four years while the white was aged six years. If the same is true today or if they are NAS and selected for a flavor profile I am unsure.

  8. phillip says:

    Andrew, You are correct in your recollection, as the neck band of my bottle does state 6 years old. Glad to see that they haven’t switched to NAS, yet.

  9. Mark M. says:

    Thanks for another great and helpful review. I too have been confused by the different HH labels. The white label green lettering 6 yr BIB is available in Seattle and is a tasty, great value sipper I keep at the ready when I’m wanting a straight forward no frills bourbon.

  10. Greg says:

    I’ve seen 1783 at the store a few times but never picked it up. Sounds like a great bargain – thanks for the tip!

  11. dave says:

    Jason- so glad to see you writing (and drinking) again… your reviews (among bourbon reviews) in particular have been a great source of learnin’ and enjoyin’…. I hope whatever it is that keeps you away from bourbon tastin’ and writing is nothing that you and yours cannot handle… and I am stoked that you’ve takin’ this new track.. were that we each had a bottle of Pappy on our shelves – but there’s bourbon to be drunk, enjoyed … and thanks to you, written about… all the best

  12. Sam Komlenic says:

    Thank you sir, for reviewing affordable bourbons. To quote yourself, “We all win!”. It is my opinion that beginners should not start their journey on the top shelf, as there are plenty of good to great (even excellent, as in these reviews) bourbons out there that don’t empty your wallet, and that affordability gives you greater opportunity to broaden your range of experience. Go to the top shelf once you’ve calibrated your palate.

    I have yet to try a bottled in bond whiskey that I felt was less then very good, and they’re generally priced right. Evan Williams 6 year BIB is one of my very favorite off the shelf pours. I feel vindicated that your rating went beyond my “great” to your “excellent.” You can’t go wrong with Heaven Hill!

    Except that in the People’s Republic of Pennsylvania, 1783 is an $18 bottle.

  13. Andrew thanks for the response on age/difference.

  14. John says:

    Thanks for reviewing this bourbon, Jason. I’m going to further add to the “we all win” theme and say that I, too, feel vindicated that your “Excellent” whiskey rating did not quite reach the pinnacle of my “Great” whiskey standard. And I think that the “bitter oak notes” you detect is, in fact, the over-aged component coming through mid-pallet.

    Over-aged component or not, this is most definitely an excellent $15 bourbon.

  15. Storcke says:

    Thank you so much, Jason, both for the 1783 review–which confirms that my tastes in whiskey are very similar to yours, and that I am starting to identify the subtle flavors that I’ve been reading about in your reviews for years–and for the OHHBiB review, which gives me something else to search for.

    I agree with the comments above that the plethora of bourbons with Heaven Hill in the title is very confusing. I am most anxious to find Heaven Hill 6 yr BiB, for which I’ve seen nothing but excellent reviews. Living in Alabama under the ABC stranglehold slows me down considerably, but turns every trip out of state into a treasure hunt. Planning to be in Tennessee this summer!

  16. @John – John I think what you are tasting are clearly those barrel forward notes. I can see where you are getting that. Here’s my take however. I’m in no way aware of what the product goals are for 1783 as far as what style of whiskey Heaven Hill is looking to produce. And we will probably never know that. To me – Heaven Hill’s style as a distillery is one that works to produce balanced whiskeys that have subtle complexity in their flavors. They produce a very classic style of bourbon. The distillery’s use of #3 char on their barrels vs. what seems to be the more common #4 char in the bourbon world. From an oak influence I believe the distillery tries to achieve more integrated, balanced oak flavors.

    Here is where I think you have some valid points with 1783. It does taste to me that this whiskey may include some outlier barrels. Perhaps that means they were a bit more heavy handed with the oak, but I’m sure that may include other outliers as well. When you consider it’s also a “Small Batch” that too might lean towards your point. Still, they’d have to include some that were “in line” with their style as well because 1783 has a clear family resemblance. I would say the oak influence is a bit more present but certainly not “bitter” to my palate. Also I DON’T feel the whiskeys that make up 1783 are older (8+ years) necessarily. It tastes to me like a mature 5+ year old whiskey possibly. Perhaps some of them (the whiskeys in the batch) were aged a little more aggressively (outer edges and upper regions of the warehouse), but not necessarily longer aged.

    Bottom line – out palate’s are never wrong whether 2 people agree or do not. I can see what you are saying and why you may have come to that conclusion. It makes some sense. The differences to me are not so great that I can clearly say they’ve taken really old or aggressively aged whiskeys to make up the bulk of the small batch 1783. But some of those whiskeys probably did make it in the batch.

    What I do know with certainty is that these debates and trying to figure it out by drinking them is very fun.

  17. John says:

    Thanks for your insight, Jason. I’m a big fan of Heaven Hill, and I settled on Evan Williams black as my everyday pour a few years back after bouncing around for a while.

    It is fun to try and figure out what these guys are doing. Blending barrels of whiskey into a consistent product is an art that very few people have mastered. We are exceptionally lucky to have a concentration of some of the finest whiskey artists in the world right in our backyard producing excellent whiskeys for everyday people at affordable prices.

    On my 1783 theory, one thing that weighs heavily in my thinking is the fact that this whiskey was originally labeled as being 10 years old. Obviously, at some point they began to blend in some younger whiskeys, but I don’t think you can stray from that 10 year old baseline very much and be able to keep the profile close to the original product. #$0.02

    Looking forward to your next review! Cheers!

  18. Sam Komlenic says:

    I absolutely agree with the observations in your last post, John. I’ve been drinking 1783 since well before the age statement was dropped (it was $9.99 here then) and I think it is probably still in the upper single digits in terms of age.

  19. Love the blog. Lots of good info here. I’m a big fan of whiskey as well as coffee. So I started sourcing and aging beans in whiskey barrels. Now I can get the nice finish of whiskey anytime! Would you be interesting in reviewing our coffee beans for your readers? I can get some free samples out to you. Let me know. Great site!
    -John

  20. Jerry Stith says:

    I have use 1783 as a measuring stick for years to determine if a premium bourbon is worth the extra I’d pay over the price of 1783. It’s very rare that I find that premium exceeds that value. But those bourbons that do, you have rated considerately higher.

  21. Mike says:

    EW 1783 is $20 a bottle in central Florida when you can find it. After 5 years and hundreds of liquor stores, I finally found the elusive EW BIB and it also $20 a bottle.

    Why is it that stores that stock Heaven Hill (the cheap stuff) can’t get the BIB?

    Florida is such a waste land.

  22. Kevin says:

    Heaven Hill 6-year Bottled-in-Bond (white label / green lettering) is, without question – in my humble opinion, the best bourbon for the money on the planet. I generally buy it in case quantity when in Kentucky. And, yes, there was a recent label change. Jason is correct…we all win!!!

  23. Andrew says:

    I am there with you, Mike. ABCFWS used to carry OHH BiB in their warehouse system, available for Ship-to-Store here in So. FL. Not sure when they made a change, but they no longer have the product in their system. Just noticed it when I went looking after seeing the review here. Still have a bottle or two left since my last order. Have never seen the white label 6 yo. edition.

    My suggestion would be to find a quality independent store, not big box and not the small shops in the strip malls, and see if they would be willing or able to order stuff up for you. It may be available in distribution within the state, however, due to lack of demand they do not carry it on the shelf. You may have to purchase a case but that may not be too bad depending on what you want. I will be doing exactly that next time I get over to that part of town. There is one I use which has been around for 30+ years.

    Maker’s Mark Cask Strength has started making its way into the area, so we are getting some new products to consider. Perhaps just not the ones we want.

  24. Storcke says:

    Speaking of BiBs, has anyone tried the Jim Beam BiB? As usual with Beam it’s twice the price of other similar bourbons ($24), but it might be worth a try.

  25. Mark F says:

    Evan Williams Black is my usual go-to bourbon. I really like the whole line as well. I think the 1783 really amps up the spice component to the signature EW profile. It has that nutmeg, eggnog spice flavor. If you like any of the EW products, but want a little more complexity, then the 1783 is great deal.

  26. Jasper says:

    Kevin is correct. The white label is an astounding value (10.99) if you can find it. Stocks seemed to dry up some last summer/fall but it’s been readily available the last few months in eastern Kentucky.

  27. Mike says:

    Another point of note is, I think the 1783 is drier than most bourbons (which I think is good!)… It may be good for those Scotch or Canadian whisky drinkers out there to try.

  28. CC says:

    I bought some OHH BIB yesterday and had some over an ice cube last night. I thought it was really, really good, and not just because of the price. This bourbon is well-balanced and a good pour and stands up to many others that cost twice as much, or more.

  29. John says:

    Jason, you did not mention if there was an age statement on the OHH BIB. They did not have “Old Heaven Hill” at my favorite liquor mega-store, but they did have “Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon” BIB, which is age-stated at 6 years @ the same price point. The presentation is more in line with Evan Williams BIB, as it is in a square bottle with a white label. Just wondering what the difference is.

  30. John says:

    I should probably read through the comments before posting. #Derp

  31. Rob says:

    Thanks for this website Jason. I have only seriously been into bourbon and rye for the past 3 years. I’ve been making my way through your site and trying new things based on your recs. I’ve been very pleased with each bottle purchased. I live in China and most things I get come in suitcases with friends and family members so, if I get a bad bottle, I won’t get another one for months. Anyway, get job on the website. It has helped me immensely. Thanks!

  32. Dawn says:

    Jason, Your review prompted us to bring home a bottle of EW1783 ($15 @ Total Wine) for a try. We were hoping that it would closely resemble the EW White Label (BiB), something we like a lot as a mixer and as a daily sipper, but also something we can find only occasionally in SoCal. The result was the character of the two is similar, but the1783 intensity is too restrained in my lingo, or as you put it, more balanced. Eyes closed, it’s a lesser EW vintage bottling. Not my preference, but definitely worth trying to find out. Thanks.

  33. Me says:

    Picked up 1783 for $15 based on review. Couldn’t find OHHBIB, but 1783 was quite nice for the price. Better value than EWSB IMO. Might be my new go to for cheap bourbon. Thx.

  34. JR says:

    Regarding EW 1783 barrel age this is the response from EW consumer relations: Thank you for contacting Heaven Hill Distilleries and your inquiry and patronage of Evan Williams 1783 Bourbon. Evan Williams 1783 is a special bottling of Evan Williams that has been in distribution in select regions of the United States for over 20 years. Evan Williams 1783 is a small batch, extra aged line extension of Evan Williams Black Label that is named after the year in which Evan Williams first established his distillery. Master Distillers, Parker and Craig Beam, oversee the production of Evan Williams 1783 using the same process and traditional recipe made popular by the brand’s namesake. A few years ago we changed the label of Evan Williams 1783 to say No. 10 due to our limited stocks of available 10-year-old barrels. Rather than settle for 10-year-old barrels that might not fit our stringent quality standards, the Master Distiller wanted the flexibility to use some very good 8- and 9-year-old barrels that were available. As federal law requires that any age statement carry the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle, we removed the 10-year-old statement to give us the latitude in barrel selection that the Master Distiller requested. Rest assured it is still mostly 10-year-old whiskey with a lesser amount of 8- and 9-year-old barrels included. As a family owned, independent company, Heaven Hill Brands takes inquiries from our customers very seriously and hope our prompt response is evidence of this. Thank you again for your patronage and if I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

  35. Andrew says:

    Here is the real riddle of EW 1783 and its bigger brother, EWSB: if Heaven Hill uses, as I’ve been led to believe, the same mash bill, char, and yeast in the majority of their products, how do you wind up with the split in tastes? The Heaven Hill labeled products are vastly different; compare the massive caramel corn finish of Heaven Hill 6 Year BIB with the delicate, nuanced flavors of EW 1783 and EWSB. I’m convinced the latter pair have a great deal in common, they share a the same lingering charcoal-bitter chocolate finish and the minty flavors of HH’s yeast. But try EC12 and its inconceivable that you’d wind up with it if you simply left EWSB in the barrel for a few more years. I think there are two general lines of the standard HH bourbon but whether its yeast or barrel selection or both I’m not sure. Perhaps even char level; I know the common line that its a #3 char on everything but perhaps the more common #4 char on some barrels accounts for the caramel flavors in the HH line? Fortunately, it is all great stuff no matter what it is, just preference. Given the alcohol heat and the finish, I think its a mix of 5-9 year old HH in the EWSB line.