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Bottom Shelf Bourbon Brackets 2015: Round 1: Evan Williams Bottled in Bond vs Henry McKenna

Posted on by Eric Burke

Round 1d of the 2015 Bottom Shelf Bourbon Brackets features Number 2 seed Evan Williams Bottled in Bond versus Number 3 seed Henry McKenna. 

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is a product of Heaven Hill Brands. This is the Bottled in bond version of the black label version that competed in Round 1b. That means it is 100 proof, over 4 years old and is the product of one distillery in one season. It’s a pretty good snapshot of what was happening at Heaven Hill 4+ years ago. This is one of a batch of Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond products that I’m quite fond of. The others being JW Dant, Old Heaven Hill and Henry McKenna Bottled in Bonds.

Speaking of Henry McKenna the number 3 seed of this contest is the non-bonded version of Henry McKenna. It is also a product of Heaven Hill Brands. I was told by an employee of Heaven Hill once that the juice going into the barrels is the same, but that the main difference between Evan Williams and Henry McKenna is where they are aged. The Henry McKenna being aged on a hillside where it gets a lot of sun where Evan Williams ages more evenly. I’m not sure the veracity of that statement, but it sounds plausible.

These were tasted blind in the following order.

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond

Purchase info: MGM Wine and Spirits, Burnsville, MN. $17.99, 1 Liter Bottle.

ABV: 50%

Produced by: Heaven Hill Brands

Nose: Fruity and Sweet. Caramel, apple, vanilla, rose petals and just a hint of pea pod.

Mouth: Started with a hint of vegetal pea pod, but that faded quickly to reveal a hot and sweet dram with ginger and toffee.

Finish: Warm and spicy. Fades fairly quickly. Numbs the mouth.

Thoughts: I like this one. That faint vegetal hint aside, this is a good one.

Henry McKenna

Purchase info: Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN. $11.99, 750 mL Bottle.

ABV: 40%

Produced by: Heaven Hill Brands

Nose: Floral, caramel and brown sugar. 

Mouth: Thin. Warm and dry. Ginger spiciness. Strong oak influence with hints of caramel.

Finish: Nice flavor, but very brief.

Thoughts: It has a nice flavor but is a bit thin and the finish is a bit too brief for me. It makes me think that this might be a great bourbon to cook with though. When you want the bourbon flavors, but not the ethanol ones.

Winner: Evan Williams has a nicer nose, finish and mouthfeel. Henry McKenna has a nicer flavor, but since Evan Williams flavor isn’t that far below I’m giving the nod to Evan Williams Bottled in Bond.


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