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The Evan Williams Vintage Is Here!

Jack Bettridge
Posted: January 31, 2014

If there's a Beaujolais nouveau of the whiskey world, it's Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage.

Just as excitement revolves around the release of the new vintage French wine on the third Thursday of November at 12:01 a.m. each year, Bourbon lovers anticipate the annual January release of Heaven Hill Distilleries vintage whiskey.

The similarity pretty much ends there, however. Evan Williams is a big, bold whiskey, hardly like Beaujolais, and the vintage designation is based more on what happened to the Bourbon over the years than on the born-on date.

This year's vintage was distilled and put into oak in 2004. It represents the 19th Evan Williams Vintage since the concept was introduced in 1994 (those casks were bottled in 1986 as an eight-year old). Because great care is used to ensure each run is consistent—from grain stock to fermentation to distillation—whiskey's differences do not lie so much in the climate conditions at their birth as they do with wine.

It is with aging conditions that Bourbons of the same origin diverge. Location in the warehouse, heat and cold, and relative humidity and dampness in subsequent seasons of maturation, all make a difference.

The human element, of course, is integral. The vintage idea started with master distiller Parker Beam and depended on his excellent discretion in choosing barrels from the Heaven Hill warehouses for this single-barrel (the whiskey is not melded between casks) distinction. While Beam's duties have reduced, he is still fully involved in choosing this whiskey—and the high-quality tradition lives on at a value price for its age.

Depending on which month the whiskey was bottled in, it is either nine or 10 years old. The barrels came from Rickhouse (warehouse) "Y" in Bardstown, Kentucky, directly across from the company's Bourbon Heritage. As a result, those making a visit can see exactly where their Bourbon incubated.

(Cigar pairings on next page)

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2004 (86.6 proof, or 43.3 percent alcohol by volume; nine or 10 years old depending on cask origination-this tasting was from Barrel No. 1, barreled on March 19, 2004, bottled on November 16, 2013-$26.99 a 750-milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Deep amber color, slight copper green. Slow legs that speed up once they form in big drops.

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Comments   1 comment(s)

JONATHAN DREW — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES,  —  January 31, 2014 6:55pm ET

Beautiful .... I cannot wait to try this one indeed ...!!

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