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Cigar Spirits: Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch Bourbon

4 Apr 2013



My last Cigar Spirits article covered one of the priciest bourbons I keep around. This time, I’m looking at one of the least expensive: Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch Bourbon.

evan-williams-1783Just $15 will land you this bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery which, in addition to Evan Williams and the eponymous Heaven Hill, also makes Elijah Craig, Old Fitzgerald, Larceny, and Parker’s Heritage, among others. Parker’s Heritage refers to Parker Beam (of the famous Beam bourbon family), master distiller at Heaven Hill along with his son, Craig. Since it’s founding in 1935, Heaven Hill has had a member of the Beam family as its master distiller.

The bourbon’s namesake, Evan Williams, was a Welshman who came to Kentucky via Virginia (although technically what is now Kentucky was part of Virginia then). According to legend, he became “Kentucky’s first distiller” in 1783. He was also a politician and a businessman.

Like the flagship “Black Label” bourbon, about a decade ago the small batch Evan Williams 1783 dropped its age statement. Prior to that, it was a 10-year-old bourbon (the Black Label was a 7-year-old back then). Now we only know that its designation as a straight Kentucky bourbon without an age statement means the youngest bourbon it can contain is at least four years old, but presumably it averages a bit older than the Black Label, which also has the same restriction.

The bourbon pours a light copper color and the nose reveals honey, sawdust, and a hint of citrus. On the palate the 86-proof bourbon shows more honey along with vanilla, oak, and burnt corn. The finish is medium-length with a buttered popcorn flavor.

The result is an easy-drinking bourbon that’s enjoyable neat or with a ice cube or two, even if it isn’t as complex as many higher-priced whiskeys. Its price makes it a guilt-free ingredient in a cocktail or even a bourbon and ginger.

And obviously it goes great with a cigar. I lit up a pre-release sample of the upcoming Recluse Draconian and enjoyed the pairing. Though I actually think a more mild- or medium-bodied cigar would go even better.

Some bourbon snobs may turn their nose up at this affordable, value-packed bourbon, but don’t let that influence you. Whether you’re a seasoned bourbon drinker or a novice, this is a very respectable, enjoyable spirit that’s worth drinking with a fine cigar.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

4 Responses to “Cigar Spirits: Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch Bourbon”

  1. Joshua K Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    "Its price makes it a guilt-free ingredient in a cocktail or even a bourbon and ginger."

    Couldn't agree more. I always try to keep a bottle of this on hand to satisfy the need for a mixed bourbon that's tasty yet affordable. And yeah, god damn it, sometimes I drink it neat. You know what? It's pretty damn good that way too.

    Props for keeping this a snob-free zone.

  2. Michael N Monday, May 20, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    I always wonder about the less expensive stuff. I've definitely some pretty good spirits for an 'everyday' price. I'll have to try the Evan Williams. Thanks.

  3. Brian Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    I felt like having a drink the other day but was short on spare change. I saw a bottle of Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch Bourbon priced at 12 bucks. I thought what the hell and was so pleasantly surprised by the flavor and smoothness that today, even though I got paid, I'm going to try another bottle. In my opinion, this is the best Bourbon for the price and that's all I got to say about that!

  4. William Hughes Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    as a Welsh/Irish american and stedfast burbon drinker i've found this to be an excelent drink for the value.