If you take a trip down the “Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” you can enter the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.
What began with the Welsh immigrant, Williams, making his way to Kentucky has become a multi-million dollar artisanal distillery. Evan Williams founded the first commercial distillery and the namesake of Heaven Hill’s bourbon brand.
The distillery is located along downtown Louisville’s historic “Whiskey Row,” right across the road from the riverfront location where Williams’ distillery stood in the late 1700s.
A Brief History of Evan Williams Bourbon
The late 1700s was a significant time for Kentucky and whiskey makers. Bourbon’s history is a little hazy. While the Samuel family holds the title of being one of the first bourbon-making families still in business today, Evan Williams opened the first commercial distillery.
The invention of bourbon is said to have been created by Elijah Craig. Story has it that Mr. Craig took corn whiskey (moonshine) and aged it in charred oak barrels, a requirement for bourbon.
But, we’re here to talk about Williams.
When Williams landed in Kentucky, he took one look around and realized there was so much that could be being done that wasn’t. The soil was rich, the corn was high, but the products weren’t moving.
Williams found a way to utilize the rich soil and turn it into cash crops. He took the opportunity and ran with it so everyone could make ends meet. His whiskey bourbon was the talk of the town, but it wasn’t all positive.
Whiskey drinkers said it was good medicine but lacked a palatable flavor. He did what any good business person does, made some tweaks, and here we are today with his bourbon being ranked as one of the top-selling bourbons in the US.
Evan Williams bourbon is rich and full of character. Slight notes of brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and hints of oak are found in every bottle of straight bourbon.
This 86 proof liquor is a medium amber color, and the scent brings about a light essence of deep vanilla and mint. Making Evan Williams bourbon starts with charred oak barrels.
Each barrel is charred over an open flame before use, giving the liquor its rich color and distinct flavor. The distillery uses local ingredients to create its mash. This straight bourbon whiskey is made using a 78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and 10 percent rye blend.
Once the mash has turned to bourbon, it is placed in the charred barrels, stored in the rickhouse, and aged for a minimum of four years.
A requirement for “straight” bourbon is that it’s aged for two years, but Williams took it a step further to give his brew a richer, crisp flavor by allowing it to age another couple of years.
Evan Williams has several variations of bourbon whiskey available, ranging in proof and flavor profiles:
|Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon||An 86 proof whiskey with a medium amber color. It has a sweet scent of vanilla and mint. One sip delivers notes of caramel, oak, and brown sugar. The medium to long finish leaves a lasting impression.||86%||$15-$29|
|Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond||This 100 proof gold-colored whiskey bourbon comes with a kick. The flavor profile consists of citrus on top of vanilla with hints of black pepper. The smell is amazing with vanilla, followed by vanilla, barley, and oak hints. Bottled-In-Bond has a long, warm, and dry finish leaving your palette craving more.||100%||$20-$45|
|Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch||1783 Small Batch honors the year Evan Williams founded the first distillery in Kentucky. This bourbon is pulled from less than 200 barrels. It is extra-aged but uses the same mash recipe and process as the traditional one created by its namesake. The flavor profile is semi-sweet, honeyed, and of course, oaky. One whiff of the bottle will send sweet corn, sauteed butter, and oaky vanilla sensations. A sip of this Small Batch bourbon leaves a lean, off-dry, and regal finish.||90%||$25|
|Evan Williams Single Barrel||Evan Williams Single Barrel is one of the company’s most premium and well-decorated bourbons. With a lush and spicy flavor leaving hints of oak with honey and notes of apples and oranges. The finish is graceful, long, and relaxed! You’ll notice the color is a delicate amber gold.||86.6%||$30|
Honey, apple, peach, cherry, cinnamon (fire), and the seasonal Eggnog are all something to talk about. Each has its own flavor profile consistent with the flavor listed on the bottle.
Evan Williams Bourbon Competitors
In the wild world of whiskey, there is a lot of competition. Evan Williams may be one of the top-selling brands, but it’s on a long list of bourbon makers.
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon
You’re looking at $100 a bottle of this bourbon. It is believed that Albert Bacon Blanton was born into one of the very first bourbon-making families in history.
Many people call this whiskey bourbon “liquid gold.” That has more to do with the quality and flavor, not so much the price.
There isn’t a soul alive that drinks whiskey and doesn’t know Jack or Jim. The old Tennessee Whiskey has evolved, but their original blend is still at the top of many lists. It is one of the WORLD’S best-selling whiskeys.
Jack Daniels and Evan Williams cost about the same price on average. The use of charcoaled maple gives Jack Daniels its distinct taste and originality.
At a little over $55 a bottle, Maker’s Mark is a famous bourbon brand. Where others use rye, Samuels swapped the rye with red winter wheat.
He wanted to eliminate the bitter bite, and he succeeded, leaving this whiskey less spicy than its competitors.
How To Drink Evan Williams Bourbon
Evan Williams is enjoyed straight by some, on the rocks by others, and in mixed drinks by many. Many bourbon connoisseurs recommend sipping a neat pour of bourbon from a Glencairn glass.
A Glencairn glass is curved and usually reserved for scotch. However, the aroma is a massive part of every bourbon experience. The curved vessel helps capture the nutty, oaky, vanilla-caramel aroma.
You can use a shot glass if that’s your preferred method, but toss it out the window if you’re looking for an experience that tantalizes the senses. Replace it with a glass that has a broad base and narrow top, allowing the aromas to funnel upwards.
Bourbon flavors are big and bold, so don’t be afraid to dilute it or use a bit of ice. Rather than using small bits of ice, try one large chunk to keep it from weakening too quickly. Remember, bourbon is for sipping.
If you take a look at the Evan Williams website, you’ll find some of the most incredible mixed drink recipes on this planet. After all, who would know better than the craftsmen themselves?
You’ll find an Evan & Even, Evan & Cola, a Classic Manhattan, and much more. When it comes to storage, it’s best to store Evan Williams bourbon upright in a cool, dry place.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Evan Williams gluten-free?
Yes, pure distilled bourbon is considered to be gluten-free. However, the company hasn’t confirmed nor denied that fact. Gluten is typically removed during the distillation process of whiskey bourbon.
2. Is Evan Williams made by Jim Beam?
No. Evan Williams is distilled at Heaven Hill’s Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. The Jim Beam distillery is located in Clermont, Kentucky.
3. Is Evan Williams made by Jack Daniels?
No, each company is its own, each having its own distillery. Jack Daniels comes from Tennessee.
4. Is Evan Williams a sweet bourbon?
Yes, Evan Williams bourbon is sweet on the tip of the tongue with a bit of a sour finish. However, the flavored variations tend to have more sweetness than sour.
5. Can you drink Evan Williams straight?
Yes, it’s actually a sipping bourbon. However, many people prefer to make mixed drinks with it.
6. What does Evan Williams mix well with?
It would be easier to answer what Evan Williams doesn’t mix well with. This bourbon is versatile and mixes well with coke, ginger ale, juices, and pretty much the sky’s the limit!
Evan Williams bourbon has a long, rich history dating back to the 18th century.
Today it is the choice bourbon of many, which is why it’s on the top best-seller list. Drink it low and slow, or blend it up in some concoction your tastebuds desire.
It’s an affordable bourbon that can make you feel like you’re sipping on a rich man’s drink!