Review of two value bourbons: Old Crow Reserve and Evan Williams
On Friday, I received a review bottle of the new Old Crow “Reserve” with a press release that states it is intended to compete with Evan Williams. So, I procured a bottle of Evan Williams (on sale for $8.99 right now here in Pennsylvania) and compared the two.
You wanted me to review value whiskeys. I’m delivering.
Old Crow Reserve, 4 year old, 43%, $12
A new “upgrade” from the standard Old Crow, which is only three years old. Soft aroma of sweet corn, candy corn, vanilla and light caramel. Similar follow through on the palate—predominently sweet, with more corn, vanilla, and light caramel. It finishes sweet (too sweet, actually), a bit grainy, and slightly hot.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 75
If this brand is meant to compete with Evan Williams, then this four year old should be the standard “Old Crow” and the Reserve expression should be more like five or six years old, because the standard Evan Williams bottling (with no age statement) reviewed below is clearly superior to Old Crow Reserve. Old Crow Reserve is too sweet and lacks oak notes for balance and complexity. It’s acceptable enough as a mixing bourbon or perhaps on the rocks, but I wouldn’t drink this neat or with water.
And now, the Evan Williams Review:
Evan Williams, 43%, $12
Nice balance of honeyed vanilla, caramel, soft oak and a hint of summer fruits and creamy coconut on both the nose and palate. Soft, lightly dried spice notes emerge on a pleasant, albiet brief, finish. Economically priced to use as a mixer or on the rocks, but also high enough quality to enjoy neat or with a splash of water. A highly versatile bourbon.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 81
Bottom line here: If you’re looking for a versatile, inexpensive bourbon to have on hand, Evan Williams is a good choice.
P.S. I shared these two bourbons with a few very experienced bourbon drinkers over the weekend (some of them WDJK readers), and our feelings were unanimous.