Depending on who you ask, the year 2000 was either the first year of the current millennium we’re in now, or, according to strict Gregorianists, the last year of the millennium we just left. The Gregorianists (is there such a thing?) are probably right, though aesthetically, it looks a lot better for a millennium to start with all those zeros and isn’t that what really matters? Also of note in the year 2000, other than a rather circus-like, farcical election complete with an unpleasant clown crowned winner was the sad death of Celia, the last Pyrenean Ibex, who was killed rather unceremoniously by a falling tree in early January.
The year 2000 also saw this vintage of Evan Williams Single Barrel distilled and lovingly pumped into new, charred American Oak casks. In the early 80’s, Bourbon makers were looking for a new angle to help sell their struggling spirit and the relative success of Scotland’s single malts prompted them to bottle and market single barrel expressions as premium/luxury alternatives to their usual expressions. According to the great American archive of whiskey that is Chuck Cowdery, Ancient Age’s Blanton’s was the first single barrel bourbon with Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Single Barrel showing up in 1986. The Evan Williams Single Barrels do things a bit differently in that they’re batched into a yearly vintage, each year presumably different from the next, but relatively similar within the vintage. This particular bottling was barreled on November 21, 2000 (as far as I remember, I was drinking heavily thanks to the “election”) and then bottled just shy of 10 years later on November 4, 2010.
The Nose: An almost bubblegum-sweet bourbon nose. Fat notes of butter brickle ice cream, toffee, cinnamon & vanilla. Behind that sweetness, lighter notes of oranges and leather, and behind that, some faint, rye-ish herbal notes.
The Palate: A nice airy, yet oily, butterscotch-filled entry grows slowly woody & spicy with big vanilla notes, cinnamon, cloves & oak char. Just beneath the slightly drying oak, some mild rye sharpness comes through more at the end, but this bourbon really does not push the rye into the forefront.
Thoughts: Evan Williams Single Barrel bottlings have an excellent reputation, this, the 2000 vintage in particular, is thought to be a damn good one. Sweet and sip-able without being cloying, complex without being overly challenging, this one hits all the right notes in a straightforward, no-nonsense way. I particularly enjoyed the restrained presence of the rye, it was there, but in a background role, really letting the wood show its stuff. For around $25, this is a damn good value.