In the realm of budget bourbon whiskeys the Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond shows up on more than a few lists. I found one in stock, and thought it would be fun to try. The particular history of “Bottled-In-Bond” goes back a long time, and honestly there’s no reason to keep up the tradition today other than it IS a tradition tied up in the whole saga of American Bourbon Whiskey.
That being said, on the the tasting.
Testing drink #1, On the rocks, whiskey still clear.
Front end: Oak, lots of woody notes like walking through my grandfather’s cabinet shop and tasting the air.
Bite: Strong bite, definitely feel it on the sides and tip of my tongue. There’s some “spice” there but not really a cinnamon, more like a mild chili.
Backside: caramel, maybe a hint of apricot and black licorice/anise. Still a lot of oak, if you like dry red wines with a lot of oak character this bourbon has a lot of that character.
Lingering taste: Reminds me of a freshly mowed lawn, not bad, but very herbal.
Testing drink #2, same drink but most of the ice melted. This waters down the whiskey a bit and wakes up some more of the flavor notes. The whiskey went from clear amber to cloudy quite quickly.
Front end: Wow, super sweet now. The oak tannin tastes calmed down and there is a bright “honey” note.
Bite: much calmer. Still some spice but it isn’t harsh.
Backside: The herbal notes are hitting harder, still getting a “fresh cut hay” taste.
Testing drink #3, same as drink 2 but with an added splash of amaretto (aka a “Godfather”) to see how it mixes.
Front end: Very sweet, the amaretto adds a lot of that, and the bourbon notes come through, still a strong oak note.
Bite: minimal, still feel a little heat on the sides of my tongue
Backside: the nutty notes from the amaretto and the fresh cut hay notes from the bourbon are playing well together.
Thoughts: This is a young, strong Kentucky bourbon. This isn’t what I’d reach for as a nightcap on its own, but it’s got a lot of character for holding up well in mixed drinks. At 100 proof it brings a lot more heat and bite than the 80 proof whiskey’s in the same price range, and 100 proof mixes well. I didn’t expect much for a bottle that cost me less than fifteen dollars, however it isn’t bad. It isn’t a whiskey that I would use to introduce a neophyte to the world of whiskey. But for what it is, it is a great “second bottle” option for your liquor cabinet. If you want a bourbon whiskey to drink neat or on the rocks and that’s it I’d pass on this one in favor of one of the more well rounded 80 proof offerings in the same price category. If you want to drop of a shot of whiskey into your beer to make a “boilermaker” then this would be a good choice for that.
Verdict. If you want a mixer or ingredient bourbon, this packs a lot of flavor that stands up to being watered down or mixed with weaker spirits. If your wife makes bourbon ball cookies for Christmas, this is a great option for baking. and I’ll definitely use this in my grilling marinades. If you only have room for one bottle of bourbon in your liquor cabinet, this isn’t one I’d recommend, but if you want to have one “good drinking bourbon” and one “good mixing bourbon” this makes a great second bottle.