The Whisky Tasting Club

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2002 43.3%, 86.6 proof

Every year at about this time some of the American bourbon producers release an annual release. Almost without exception they are excellent.

This is the 2001 version

Among them is Evan Williams Single Barrel and this release, distilled in 2002, is the 17th in the series. The whiskey was taken from a single barrel matured on the south side of the fifth floor of Heaven Hill’s Rickhouse R and proofed at 129.8 (64.9% ABV) before being reduced for bottling at 86.6 proof (43.3% ABV).
This new release, bottled at the start of the month, will be available from January in the United States and in very limited quantities elsewhere, but was this week trialled at the Bardstown Whiskey Society in Kentucky. Amazingly, despite being a single barrel offering and nine years old, a mature age for a premium bourbon, this will retail in America for just $25.99.
Here are my tasting notes:

Nose: Rich and perfumed, perfumed leather handbag, lilac, fig, brandy snaps, blackcurrant and wispy smoke. All delicate and floral.
Palate: Not as sweet, cloying and full bodied as the nose might suggest. Indeed there’s an astringency to it. And little influence of oak for a bourbon as old as this. Candy stick, apple pip, Autumn fruits, particularly apple and pear, blackberry Berry Fruits and some cocoa and menthol notes. Very drinkable but not particularly complex or rich.
Finish: The finish is deceptive, with the whiskey seemingly fading away rapidly but a faint but distinctive and insistent sweet candy flavour lingering. Very more-ish.

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  • I just tried Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, Barrel No. 35, barreled on 4-8-02 and bottled on 11-21-11. Sadly, a big disappointment. Tastes like wet, moldy wood. Nothing there but bad taste.

  • I had to add to the previous comment. I had a nice bottle of the EWSB from 2001, and decided to try a bottle of the ’02. My bottle was barrelled and bottled the same date as the previous comment, 4/8/02 and 11/21/11, but from barrel 29. My wife and I opened it for friends one night and it was literally undrinkable. It tasted of mold and, for lack of a better description, bug spray.
    We went back to the bottle several different times, hoping for a different result, but neat, on ice, or with water, it was equally bad.
    I like whiskey of all sorts and characteristics, but this was not just a bad tasting whiskey, it was a BAD whiskey.
    I was very disappointed, and for my budget, I can hardly justify paying more on this kind of a crapshoot than for a less exciting but consistently great whiskey like Maker’s Mark. Too bad.

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