Regular old black label Evan Williams is most people’s first bourbon, maybe even in eggnog form. It costs less than a paperback book and has paved the way to many MFT sessions.
The marketing is self-aware and wonky, the bodega ridged bottle and the screw top. It apes the “luxury” product Jack Daniels in its monochromatic suit. It’s approachable, low risk oak turpentine that is fine for mixing, and 86 proof for underwhelming sippin. Pass the julep.
Bourbon itself though has gotten into a “Hysterical Realism” realm where, like overwrought fiction from Pynchon or Delillo, the metanarrative can get out of hand. Tacky boxes, stupid lore, boxes sold as packages, raffles based upon how much Fireball you previously bought. It makes you yearn for trashy black label Evan Williams parking lot naps.
Heaven Hill has a sense of humor though. They took the same janky bottle, filled it with absolutely incredible 12 year Evan Williams, and then just waxed the screw top. The result? $130 gift-shop-only release that is nothing short of a total stunner. This is not Blantons black label nonsense, this makes that Buffalo Trace cash grab look like someone who posts progressive infographics but does nothing to actually improve the world.
This is exceptional.
You can find this for $45 in Japan but good luck with that. At 101 proof it gives more warmth than your dad showing up to your modular synth show, glowing yet reserved.
The nose has granola and honey roasted peanuts, taste has SKOR bar, currant, lattice crust pie, finish is long and approachable with pangs of walnut and candied pecans. The swallow is longer than a Bad Dragon toy and more fulfilling.
I went into this fully expecting to waste money. A cornwater self-own, tearing my rotator cuff dunking on myself with my classic horrible financial decisions for the adulation of strangers on the internet. Then we do the classic “aw shucks salt of the earth” tagline every wince inducing bourbon review does to maintain relatability “I MEAN IT IS GOOD BUT YOU CAN ALSO BUY [always Knob Creek 9 Year or Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, literally every time.]”
I wont put you through that predictable pandering bullshit.
Top 5 bourbon of 2022.