One of the highlights of the Drinkhacker year is always the arrival of the Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon release, which is invariably just coming out of cask from a bit over nine years earlier. We’ve reviewed EW Single Barrel since the 1999 release and, even better, I’ve got all four bottles on hand to do a long-term comparison of how this Bourbon has evolved over time. (That said, the company’s been doing this since 1986, so I’m barely scratching the surface.)
Lining up all four, it’s clear to see how the Single Barrel has taken a more and more forceful approach over time. Putting them all side by side, the 1999 is a bit on the thin side and slightly bitter, then comes the near-perfect 2000, with its amazing balance. 2001 pushes the wood character a bit further, and 2002 continues that trend.
With this Bourbon, distiller Heaven Hill keeps pushing wood at us. Drawn from barrels held on a high floor in the rickhouse, the 2012 Single Barrel offers classic Bourbon flavor, rich with caramel, vanilla, and huge rye spices (though the mashbill for this whiskey is undisclosed). There’s some citrus in the middle, fleeting. Compared to other entries, the 2002 shows a bit of a tough finish, coming across a little like dried herbs muddying the body. Things open up a bit with time in the air, but the overall impact is that of a whiskey that’s seen a tad too much time in wood. Still definitely worth a shot, considering the price.
Barrel #1 reviewed. To be released in January 2012. 86.6 proof.