• 43.3% ABV (86.6 Proof)
  • Age: 9-10 Years
  • Distilled: 2004
  • Distiller: Heaven Hill (Bernheim Distillery)
  • Price Paid: $24, Louisville Bourbon Society
  • Availability: 2004 vintage readily available. This private selection is available only to members of the Bourbon Society.

What It is:

Evan Williams Black Label is the second highest selling bourbon in the world behind Jim Beam. That’s also reflected in Heaven Hill’s inventory, as they boast the second largest number of barrels of aging bourbon in the world in their many rick houses spread across Kentucky. The standard Black Label shares the same underlying distillate as this single barrel expression, but is aged only 5-7 years. This version is aged around 10 years (it may vary slightly due to time of year it is bottled), but bottled at 86.6 proof, like its less expensive sibling. You may remember that previous expressions of Evan Williams, the Black Label, White Label Bottled-in-Bond, the Single Barrel Vintage 2003, and the gift-shop-only Barrel Proof, have all fared very well in previous tastings here on Modern Thirst.

This particular bottle was a private barrel selection from the Bourbon Society in Louisville.  At $24, it is an easy purchase.


Evan Williams 2004 Vintage Single Barrel

The bottle is a curvy, rounded container with the logo and vintage printed on a cream label. The bottle is heavily waxed, with black wax covering almost the entire neck. A selection of these on a bourbon shelf arranged by vintage date would look pretty impressive.  The bottom half of the label shows the Bourbon Society’s logo.


Amber, bordering on gold.


Toffee and vanilla on the nose followed by aged oak.


A little more full in flavor than the 2003 vintage, it’s also slightly less sweet.  It starts with heavy caramel and vanilla on the tip of the tongue.  The back end of this one is dominated by aged oak and barrel char flavors and smokiness.  It still has that Evan Williams richness on the tongue with a lot of age showing through.


Medium to long.  The barrel flavors really linger on this, with a charred oak sensation rounding out the experience.


A really nice barrel selection by the Society, this is a very nice representation of what Evan Williams juice can be after some extra aging.  I think that generally, Evan Williams drinks very well at this proof, but I would still like to see a slightly higher proof, maybe in the 90-95 range, on this maybe in a limited release offering in the future.  Still, this compares excellently to the 2003 vintage, and the richer flavor on the tongue pushes it ahead.  This 2004 vintage is very woody, and very smoky, pushing it very close to the flavor profile best known in Elijah Craig’s 12 year old small batch offering and the very competitive price point on this bottle makes the Evan Williams Vintage series one of the better values in full-flavored bourbons today. score: 89 out of 100 points.

Photo Courtesy of Heaven Hill Distilleries
Photo Courtesy of Heaven Hill Distilleries

Compare to: Elijah Craig Small Batch

The scoring system is a standard 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order.

  1. Appearance: 15 points
  2. Nose: 25 Points
  3. Palate/Taste: 35 Points
  4. 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