Evan Williams Barrel Proof: a tasty, but expensive souvenir jug
It was a Sunday in February. I was driving through Kentucky on my way to an overnight stop in Louisville. I was looking to stop at a few distilleries. Looking to bring home some thing a bit special. I stopped at Four Roses but already had one of each of their Single Barrel selections. I tried stopping at Jim Beam, but they were closed. Looked up Willett, closed. Finally I gave up. I went to the hotel, checked in and decided to go for a walk downtown.
As we were walking, I remembered the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. I didn’t need another tour, but they did have a gift shop. And I seemed to remember that they had things there I couldn’t buy in the store. So I ducked in.
There were a few people who had just finished tour in there. I mingled around with them until a jug caught my eye. It was a short, squat stoneware jug. Picking it up, I noticed a photo of the actor who played Evan Williams in the movies you see as part of the tour. I also noticed the words: Evan Williams Barrel Proof on the front. That got my attention. I looked around for the price list.
One hundred dollars. I did the math quickly. Eighty proof version for $15. One hundred proof version for $20. One hundred twenty five proof version for $100. Seemed like a high markup. I waffled a bit. Finally, I decided to buy it. It was the one shot I had left, on this trip, to buy something special that I couldn’t get at home. I felt a bit like a tool as I walked up to the counter to pay.
As I was paying, a worker came up and asked if I’d tried it. I told him I hadn’t, but was looking forward to it. So he grabbed a bottle, opened it up and poured my wife and I each a small sample. He also poured the lady ringing me up a sample and a couple gentlemen who were still wandering around from before I wandered in.
The two gentleman winced and thought it was a bit much for them. They stared in wonder as my wife’s eyes lit up and she uttered: “oooh, that’s gooood!” The lady behind the counter also seemed to appreciate it. I felt much less like a tool after that. The bottle they were pouring from was delicious. If the one I was buying was as well, it’d be worth the price.
So we paid, walked back to the hotel and I forgot about it for a while. When I got home, it went into the closet with the rest of the overflow stash. Until now.
Evan Williams Barrel Proof
Purchase info: $100, Evan Willams Bourbon Experience, Louisville, KY
Details: 62.5% ABV
Nose: oak, dry earth, ginger, allspice and after a while loads of brown sugar
Mouth: sweet and spicy with caramel, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and hints of ripe cherries
Finish: Long with a warmth that settles in for the duration. Ginger, mint and the bitterness of grapefruit pith
Thoughts: This is delicious. I love it! If you go just by the math, this is a terrible buy. But let’s just say that the next time I’m in Louisville, I’ll be stopping in to see if they have another. I might even buy two.
UPDATE: As of my September 2014 visit, this product had been discontinued due to manufacturing issues with the jugs. It was devastating news because this was a fantastic product.