It’s time for round 9 of the Budget Bourbon Battle Royale! (Follow this link for previous rounds.) If you’re not familiar with this series, we’re reviewing bottles that can be had for $20 or less in most areas. Thus far, Old Fitzgerald has fended off several challengers and remains our reigning king of the budget ring. But it’s about to get nasty. The long-awaited match up between fellow Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond bourbon, Evan Williams White label, and our reigning champion, Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond is here.
Round 6: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond vs. Evan Williams White Label
To quote the great Michael Buffer:
For the thousands on twitter and the millions of readers around the world, ladies and gentlemen, LLLET’S GET READY TO RUUUUMMMBBBLLLLLLLLEEEE!
The Challenger: Evan Williams White Label
If you will remember, Evan Williams Black Label took on the reigning champ a couple of rounds ago, and gave Old Fitz all it could handle, being edged out by a single point. Well Even Williams isn’t done yet, and it’s back for more. This time, it sent its white Label Bottled-in-Bond offering to the ring to do battle.
The White Label is aged 4 years, and clocks in at 100 proof, as bottled-in-Bond bourbons do.
- Appearance: Deep amber.
- Nose: Corn, Bakery Goods, Vanilla
- Taste: There are some early fruits, including apricot and banana, but they give way to traditional smoother bourbon flavors of vanilla, caramel, maple syrup, and oak.
- Finish: Surprisingly long and smooth, with black pepper and cloves.
- Score: 86/100.
The Reigning King of the Ring: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond (recap from previous rounds)
Old Fitzgerald is another venerable bourbon label. It is currently produced by Heaven Hill at the new Bernheim facility in Louisville. It’s a Wheated Bourbon, and shares its mash with Larceny and Old Fitzgerald 12 year. It can be found in 90 proof, or Bottled-in-Bond at 100 Proof. This review covers the Bottled-in-Bond version.
Appearance: Deep gold.
- Nose: Bakery goods (wedding cake) and corn sweetness.
- Taste: Wheat tingle on the tip of the tongue, more white cake, mint, wheat, and maple syrup on the back with cinnamon showing its head on the end.
- Finish: Medium finish with the sweetness and wheat tingle remaining through the end.
- Score: 83/100. Recommended.
The king is dead! Long live the king! Finally, Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond has been unseated. It should be noted that Old Fitz was actually beaten by a fellow bottled-in-bond bourbon from the same distiller. But this was no fluke. Evan Williams White Label clearly blurs the line between a budget bourbon and a premium. In fact, I’d wager that most palates would have a hard time declaring this a budget bourbon at all. It is smooth, flavorful, and worthy of a sip. At under $15, it may be among the best values in bourbon today.
Budget Bourbon Battle Royale Current Standings:
- Evan Williams White Label (Bottled-in-Bond) 86
- Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 83
- Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond 83
- Evan Williams (Black Label) 82
- Ancient Age 90 79
- Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond 76
- Ancient Age 80 75
- McAffee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 75
- Old Crow 72
- Old Taylor 69
The ModernThirst.com scoring system is a standard 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order.
- Appearance: 15 points
- Nose: 25 Points
- Palate/Taste: 35 Points
- Finish: 25 points
- 95+ Epic
- 90-94 Excellent, Good representative of its style
- 85-89 Solid sipper
- 80-84 Drinkable, but potentially flawed.
- 75-79 Low quality, flawed, use as a mixer only
- <75 Rot Gut, avoid