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.