Evan Williams Single Barrel 2002 Vintage Kentucky Straight Bourbon, distilled by Heaven Hill Distilleries and bottled at 43.3% ABV.
Price Range: $20-$25
Heaven Hill released their first single barrel vintage bourbon in 1995. While this is not the first single barrel bourbon ever released, that distinction belongs to Blanton's Bourbon, Heaven Hill distinguishes this product by only selecting barrels from the same year the bourbon was put in oak. Many other single barrel whiskies select their barrels based on a similar flavor profile rather than age. Each year, their Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam select "honey" barrels that come from the upper floors of their rick houses. They explain that these upper floors experience the greatest annual temperature swings which they believe results in a bourbon that is deeper in color and richer in flavor. While the Evan Williams Single Barrel does not list an age statement, each vintage lists the date the spirit went into the barrel and the date the bourbon was bottled, which is usually nine or ten years.
Nose: The nose is rich and powerful, full of caramel and vanilla with undertones of cedar sweet cherries and persimmons.
Palate: The palate is surprisingly light and delicate though the alcohol is initially a little strong. The bourbon is slightly sweet and fruity however it is well balanced with oak.
Finish: The finish had a light dryness from the oak which initially tastes slightly nutty and salty. As the flavors linger, sweet notes of raspberries and cherries come back to the fore.
Conclusion: With its lighter and more delicate flavors, Evan Williams Single Barrel 2002 Vintage is a great bourbon to sip neat, especially for its sub $30 price tag. Given a little time to breath in the glass, some of the strong alcohol notes that are initially intense blow off and you are left with a pleasant and smooth bourbon. Evan Williams Single Barrel is also one of my favorite bourbons to give as a gift because it is often completely new to the recipient, it tastes fantastic and it is super affordable.