Evan Williams Black Label

82 Solid

This is the second-best selling bourbon in the world for a reason.

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This review was originally published as part of our Budget Bourbon Battle Royale.  The original post can be found here.

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Bourbon drinkers know what they like, and bourbon drinkers like Evan Williams.  This standard Black Label offering is second only to standard Jim Beam in global sales.  Previously, Evan Williams carried a 7 year age statement.  Recently, to meet growing demand, that age statement has been dropped.  I understand this bourbon is aged between 5 and 7 years now, and it is  86 proof.  There is a White Label Bottled-in-Bond version available on-the-cheap as well, at 100 proof, but this review covers the lower proof version.

Evan Willims BLACK

  • Appearance: Medium Amber.
  • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, Leather, Oak.
  • Taste: Caramel hits the tip of the tongue, and it develops into further flavors of toffee, vanilla bean, and caramel corn throughout.  Oak makes an appearance n the back of the tongue, with only a light alcohol burn.
  • Finish: Medium, somewhat dry, but the caramel lingers with tannins from the barrel showing through at the end along with the slightest hint of peppermint.
  • Score: 82/100.  Recommended.

This is the second-best selling bourbon in the world for a reason, it seems.  It’s sweet, smooth, and packed with flavor- especially so for an 86 proof whiskey.  However, I felt like the finish left me wanting just a bit more.  It lacked punch and bite.  While that’s likely due to the lower proof, it still can’t be brushed aside.  I am looking forward to sampling the White Label (100 Proof Bottled-in-Bond) version of this very soon, and I have a feeling the extra oomph from the higher alcohol content might be a difference maker.   But don’t sleep on black label Evan Williams.  If lower proof is your thing, give it a shot.

ModernThirst.com Score: 82/100

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About Author

Bill is the Co-Founder, Editor-in Chief, and official Bourbon-o-Phile for ModernThirst.com, and Founder and Chief Blending Officer for Four Gate Whiskey Company. He is a native of Louisville, KY in the heart of Bourbon Country. He attended the University of Kentucky in the mid to late 1990s. He has also been published on Liquor.com. He has conducted various bourbon and whiskey tastings in cities across the country, and consulted for multiple national labels. He is married with two daughters, and lives in east Louisville. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BillStraub and email him at Bill@ModernThirst.com.


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  8. This is my go-to budget bourbon. You just can’t go wrong…even if might know you could probably go more right.

  9. Mr Williams is a seriously under rated & non trendy Bourbon that doesn’t appeal to Bourbon snobs.
    I for one don’t want the masses informed of this….. will drive the price higher.

  10. I recently discovered Evan Williams, quite independently of any research, hearsay, or comparison data. I went in the state store for Jack Daniels as is my custom for lo, these many years. But , alas, I found only fifteen bucks in my pocket. On a dare, from my lovely assistant, I purchased the “bargain” bourbon next door. Black label Evan Williams has left me questioning my judgement, on other important decisions. Less bite, but more bourbon enjoyment. For half of what I would pay for Mr. Jack’s product. Feels slightly less potent, but ever so smooth and enjoyable. Even an old dog, can learn a new trick, now and then. Best kept secret, for a bourbon man. CHEERS.

  11. This and Wild turkey 101 are my go to pours.
    Not cool or expensive enough for new Bourbon hipsters ( Thank G*d for that).

  12. Bourbon is made in KY. Jack Daniels is sipping whiskey and definitely not bourbon. Jack is made in Tennessee. Real Bourbon is made only in Kentucky. It may be “legally” bourbon but it sucks like it was made in Tennessee.

    • No,
      Bourbon – Use of the word Bourbon is legally protected under Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations as acknowledged in 1964 by the US Congress. To be recognized as Bourbon, the following must be met:

      Must be made in the United States (any state, not just Kentucky)
      Must be made of at least 51% corn
      Must be distilled at no higher than 160 proof
      Must be barreled at no higher than 125 proof
      Must be put in a new, charred oak container (not necessarily a barrel)

      Straight Bourbon – To be classified as Straight Bourbon, it has to conform to all the guidelines for Bourbon and be aged in that charred oak container for at least 2 years. If it is aged less than 4 years, an age statement must also appear on the label.

      Kentucky Straight Bourbon – To be classified Kentucky Straight Bourbon, the guidelines of Straight Bourbon must be adhered to, in addition to having been distilled and aged for at least 1 year in Kentucky.

  13. I have tried the ‘bonded’ white label, and did find it even tastier than the black,(AND, it was under $18 bucks!), but as someone who rarely partakes of 100 proof bourbons, the extra alcohol definitely snuck up on me.

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