Review: Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon

Review: Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon


I’ve written about Evan Williams a few times now after seeing the brand rank highly in taste-tests of inexpensive booze. Widely regarded as the best “cheap bourbon” on the market, I figured I’d pick up a bottle and try it myself, tasting it as seriously as I would a $300 Scotch.

The price of this bottle of Evan Williams Black? $9.49.

Alas, old Ev Black is not as smooth as some might make it out to be. Though 86 proof, it feels watery, yet it packs a rye-like kick as you sip. Citrus is the predominant flavor here, which is another oddity, with a smoky finish that really just hints at bourbon’s characteristic vanilla.

Could I put this in Coke and be happy as a clam? Sure, but for straight bourbon drinking on a strict less-than-75-cents-a-shot budget, I’ll stick with Jim Beam.

86 proof.


Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Brett on February 3, 2009 at 11:10 am

    One bourbon that I’d really like to see you review is the Evan Williams 1783 bourbon (aged 10 years). Its only 11 or 12 dollars a fifth and i think it is one of the best deals on the market right now. Its ridiculously better than EW black for only a few dollars more. Also me and my friends all tried a EW 1783 blind taste test beside Jim Beam Black and EW 1783 won hands down (way smoother). Its my go to bourbon now but its kind of hard to find

  2. aaron on February 4, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    i think you actually may be thinking of a specific Evan Williams bottling – It’s actually called “Evan Williams 1783 10 Year”. I bought this black label after hearing all this hype but soon after discovered that the hype is over the 10-year bottling,,,which ironically, is priced at the same price as this black label stuff.

    honestly, this tastes perfectly fine – i like it straight and with coke (mainly just drink with coke which I know is not ‘hip’ but I really love coke).

    the 10 year bottling is a tubby, stout bottle – looks very different from their black and green labels. I’ve never tried it either, but as soon as it’s re-stocked locally, I’ll be trying it.

  3. aaron on February 4, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    also,,, I’d like to see you review fighting cock…. to me, fighting cock in a coke is nirvana – my favorite combo…. I’ve gone through some cheap and more pricy bourbons but for some reason I can’t put my finger on, i really dig this particular brand… i even love the smell of the empty bottle..

  4. Christopher Null on February 5, 2009 at 7:53 am

    aaron – The highly-touted bourbon in both the stories I’ve mentioned is definitely not the 1783 but the straight black label. (Of course, that’s just the hype I’ve been reading.) That said I’ll keep an eye out for the 1783… they don’t seem to have it at my local hooch merchant but also appears to be a great deal ($12 online at some places).

  5. comedyman21 on February 6, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    the cheap Jack Daniel’s. thats my opinion

  6. Jeff on February 7, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Just as good (bearable?) as Jim Beam, and almost half the price.

  7. aaron on February 12, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    i gotcha. I bought the black label too recently and it’s fine. I KNOW there are probably better bourbons for the same price out there, but I’d never turn my nose up at this one. Maybe someone will find this blasphemy but I find this less medicinal than JB in a coke…..

  8. Martacious D-LuxXx on May 15, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Let me start off by saying that the only thing sweeter than Evan Williams is Ac/DC, and seeing as how you can’t drink Ac/DC it’s obvious that Evan Williams is the shiznit. I love Evan Williams. I’ve been drinkin it since I was 9. One time I tried Jack Daniels and I got HIV. Now me and my friends can’t share needles anymore because I’ll make them sick with my HIV. Evan Williams black label is so good it makes me cry. It’s so good that the only thing I care to mix it with is either saliva or poontang. God bless the inventor of this magical thirst quencher. God bless him and his no doubt smoking hot wife.

    • rebellivesmatter on September 17, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Outstanding sir! That is the funniest damn thing I have ever read on the internet.

    • David on January 24, 2018 at 7:12 am


  9. Dave on March 20, 2010 at 4:06 am

    just tried this for the first time tonight. i let it sit on the tongue a moment, then let it roll down. chased it (with no rush, very smooth this stuff is) with a little bit of coke. i believe i am in love. this stuff is incredibly smooth and tasty. the immediate aftertaste is a little rough, but nothing unusual with a liquid containing 43% alcohol. def my new go to whiskey, especially with monetary numbers in mind.

  10. Dr. of the Deep on June 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Uh, commenter #9 has probably died a horrible death from HIV now, so wouldn’t be right to talk bad about the dead…har har….
    I recently made the decision to go to good ‘ol American Bourbon; been a rum/wine drinker predominantly and decided my experienced liver needed a new, more exciting mid-life crisis.
    Got a couple bottle of Beam and it did the job just fine (Jack is boring and over-hyped; sorry, that’s just my opinion…)
    Happened across Evan Williams during drunken web reading and was intrigued. Picked up a bottle of the black label and swore they’d mis-marked the price. Shhhhhhhh.
    6 or 7 bottles later and I’m sold on this stuff: no headaches ever and it goes and goes. ‘course, you wussies don’t have the liver experience I do, so your mileage may vary…
    Just picked up a bottle of the 1783 10 year and am in love all over again. DAMN, this stuff is good! Best part: my NASCAR-loving wife agrees. Life is good.
    I can afford to drink the Scottish stuff and all the other USA whiskeys, no worries, been there, done that. I go on Caribbean vacations twice a year and drink their rums (Mount Gay is pretty good, but you gotta try you some Big Black Dick sometime). However, when in the USA, I’m drinking Evan Williams. Don’t tell nobody about our little secret, or they’ll jack up the price to snob level.

  11. Love my Evan Williams on August 24, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Was a Beam drinker for many years. Was given one drink of Evan Williams………done with the Beam. Excellent bourbon, inexpensive though. Relating to the smoothness…….a half gallon does not last as long anymore. You drink this stuff all night.

  12. Bourbon Boy on September 15, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    My brother and I bought a bottle to put in our home made eggnog last year. Usually bought Early Times, but we lliked the price of EW. Thought we’d have a taste to see what we got. Both been hooked ever since. What a great find at a low price. Have a one liter on the night stand right now. $13.60 includes tax, title, and license.

  13. XullioS on September 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed this on a first tasting. First few sips were harsh but i drank it out of my flask straight all night and it was great. i bought this because the only other brand i had was benchmark no 8 (bought due to this blog) and even though that stuff was great i knew i would want some variety. 4-5 shots gave me about 3 hours of enjoyment and now i have a nice buzz :)

  14. Scott on March 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Other than Beam Black, Jim Beam is pretty inconsistent and awful IMO.

    Plus EW is half the price of Beam or JD#7.
    ($15 / handle versus $30+.)

    Clear choice to me, though Early Times at the same price point might make me think.

  15. BB Cuda on March 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

    the only thing worse than cheap whiskey is bad water.

  16. d-dub on September 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I could never really stomach Beam. I kept telling everyone how great Evans is and no one believed me. I made them do a blind taste test with some standards including beam and makers. Evan and Makers were neck and neck on everyones favorite.

  17. Joe on March 8, 2015 at 8:55 am

    This guy must just be a EW hater. Everything he taste has nothing to do with this drink. Not just IMO but every other review I’ve ever read on EW black label. On the nose you pick up vanaila. Taste you get a sweet almost brown suger with a hint of cinnamon spice on the end. Mixes Great with coke even better then some high end buffalo trace and way better then Jim.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.