Whisky Advocate

Review: Evan Williams Single Barrel 1999 Vintage

January 7th, 2009

One thing to keep in mind about this review:  it’s a single barrel bottling ( from Barrel #1). I highly doubt the bottle you buy will be from Barrel #1, which means that it won’t taste exactly like this one. The barrel your whiskey comes from might be from the same warehouse and even the same floor, but there will be differences, even if subtle.

Evan Williams Single Barrel (Barrel #1), 1999 Vintage, 43.3%, $26
This might the most drinkable Evan William Single Barrel vintage ever produced. It’s most noticeable personality trait is sweetness (gentle, not cloying), with notes of caramel corn, vanilla custard, candied fruit and subtle macaroon. Spearmint, cinnamon, nutmeg and charcoal provide some zest. Soft and clean on the finish, with gentle oak resin. A smooth, easy ride from beginning to end.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 85

8 Responses to “Review: Evan Williams Single Barrel 1999 Vintage”

  1. Martin says:

    You would rank this better than the 96 and 97 editions? (Which I thought were fantastic.)

  2. John Hansell says:

    No I wouldn’t. I rated the ’96 and 94 and the ’97 a 90. You can find an archive of my reviews on our magazine’s website in the Buyer’s Guide section.

  3. Randy Ricchi says:

    It seems funny to me that Martin would mention the ’96 edition with the ’97 edition.
    To me, those two years are very different. To me, the ’96 and ’95 editions were very similar, and very, very, very good. Each year since, I am always hoping the review of the next edition will be compared to either the ’96 or ’95.

  4. John Hansell says:

    RR: I think what Martin meant was that he liked both those vintages a lot, not necessarily that they tasted similarly. For sure, the Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintages have been across the board, from light and easy to drink to heavy and very full-flavored.

  5. Gary Gillman says:

    This whisky sounds inviting and I look forward to buying it on my next trip to the U.S.

    I wonder if it was distilled in the Bernheim plant in Louisville which Heaven Hill bought to replace its distillery which had been lost due to a major fire in the fall of 1996. The 1998, 1997 and some of the 1996 EWSBs would have been distilled at other distilleries under contract for Heaven Hill under its supervision. I believe these “interim” vintages were distilled at Jim Beam. They are excellent bourbons whose characteristics are softness, richness and full taste, and the ’99 sounds similar.

    Perhaps the ’99 (or some of them – these are single barrels) were made under contract at Beam, perhaps they are Bernheim-made whiskey. Whatever the precise origin, the ’99 seems per your notes John to be continuing the soft, approachable style of EWSB from 1997 and 1998.

    I liked the ’95 and ’94 too – these would have been pre-fire manufacture made at D.S.P. 33 – but to me their balance was not as good as later EWSBs. Whether the different stills used for the latter explain the difference or a more nuanced approach to maturation, or both, is hard to say. What is easy to say is Heaven Hill is a national treasure and I hope it stays in business forever as the proud independent it is.


  6. John Hansell says:

    Gary, it is indeed a national treasure. Being an independent publication, we also admire their independence.

  7. ken morris says:

    wow…. i am simply in awe of the level and specificity at which fine bourbon drinkers go to…. i had no idea…. i tasted Old Forester for the first time 5 years ago and was IMMEDIATELY a LIFELONG ardent fan of the product…. but i also like evan williams products…. HOWEVER Old Forester is (as the kids say) THE SHIT……. PLEASE … please PLEASE … someone with product knowledge respond to me… I guarantee that i have turned more people (especially young money conscious drinkers) onto Old Forester Bourbon in the last 3 years than 99% of Forester lover’s have in the last 10 years…

  8. John Hansell says:

    Ken, they should hire you as a spokesman. We have had some Old Forester threads (you can do a search) and there will be more in the future. I am posting one later today, in fact. Check back this afternoon.

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