Evan Williams (bourbon)

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Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey
TypeBourbon whiskey
ManufacturerHeaven Hill
Country of originKentucky, United States
Alcohol by volume43%
Proof (US)86
Related productsHeaven Hill

Evan Williams is a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky,[1][2] by the Heaven Hill company.[3] The product is aged for a minimum of four years[3] (which is more than the two year minimum to be called 'straight' bourbon, but is the minimum requirement for a straight whiskey that does not have an age statement on the label).[4] It has been ranked as one of the world's best selling whiskey brands.[5]


Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Super-Premium Bourbon

Although bottled in Bardstown, the product is distilled at the Heaven Hill distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.

The "standard issue" Evan Williams bourbon is sold as the mass-market "Black Label" variety, which has been described as "something that's cheap and doesn't taste bad".[6] The company also bottles several other expressions, including a "White Label" that is bottled in bond,[6] an "Evan Williams 1783" bourbon that is produced in more limited quantities and has been described as an "affordable, value-packed bourbon",[4] and a nine-year-old single barrel bourbon sold in vintage-dated bottles sealed with black wax. Occasionally available in some regions is a "Green Label" variety that is 80 proof and represents a younger, light-bodied version of the bourbon found in "Black Label" bottles at a more affordable price.

As of June 21, 2010, Evan Williams was the second largest-selling brand of Kentucky straight bourbon (following the market leading Jim Beam brand) and had the fastest-growing market share among the top-volume American whiskey brands (with a 12.4% sales growth rate), according to a press release issued by the producer citing A.C. Nielsen Scantrack 2010 data.[7][8]

Evan Williams Black is 43% alc/vol (86 U.S. proof), unlike some popular whiskeys which are bottled at the statutory minimum of 40% alc/vol (80 proof).

Origin of the name[edit]

Historical marker for Evan Williams in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky

Evan Williams was a Welsh immigrant, who was born in Dale, Pembrokeshire, but emigrated to the United States towards the end of the 18th century.[9] Williams settled in Kentucky and began distilling in 1783, in what is now Louisville, Kentucky.[10] A historical marker in Louisville (depicted in photo at right) says the site was Kentucky's first commercial distillery. Williams was elected to serve as the first wharf master of Louisville in 1797.[11]

This heritage is emphasized on the bottle label of the best selling variant, the black label, which bears the inscriptions "Since 1783" and "Kentucky's 1st distiller". However, the inscriptions should not be construed as indicating that the brand has continuously existed since the time of the historic distillery. The modern whiskey brand was established in the mid-1900s[timeframe?] and has no direct connection to the historic distiller.[citation needed]

Moreover, historian Michael Veach of the Filson Historical Society has stated that key details of the historical claims about Williams appear to be false.[12] Veach said that the assertion that Williams was Kentucky's first distiller did not appear until an 1892 publication by Reuben Durrett, more than a century after the fact. He also said that the dating is disproved by a record of Williams traveling from London to Philadelphia in May 1794, showing that Williams could only have begun his distillery substantially later. Veach indicated that the true identity of Kentucky's first distiller may never really be known, since record-keeping about such matters was poor, and there are others that seem more likely as candidates for first distiller, including Jacob Myers and brothers Joseph and Samuel Davis. Records reportedly indicate that Myers and the Davis brothers both arrived in 1779.[12]


A bottle of Evan Williams.

Varieties of whiskey using the Evan Williams brand name include the following:

  • Evan Williams Green Label, 80 proof
  • Evan Williams White Label, 100 proof (bottled in bond)[13]
  • Evan Williams Black Label, 86 proof,[14] designated as 7-year aged prior to dropping this designation in the early 2000s[4]
  • Evan Williams Single Barrel, 86 proof[15]
  • Evan Williams 1783, 86 proof,[16] designated as 10-year aged prior to dropping this designation in the early 2000s[4]
  • Evan Williams Red Label, 101 proof
  • Evan Williams 23 years old, 107 proof

Several liqueurs are also produced under the Evan Williams brand, including:

  • Evan Williams Egg Nog, 30 proof, available during the Winter Holiday Season[3][17]
  • Evan Williams Honey Reserve, 70 proof, introduced in 2009[3][18]
  • Evan Williams Cherry Reserve, 70 proof, introduced in 2010[3][19]
  • Evan Williams Kentucky Cider, 34 proof[20]
  • Evan Williams Cinnamon Reserve, 70 proof, introduced in 2015[3][21]

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience[edit]

The whiskey and its history is featured in the "Evan Williams Bourbon Experience", a tourist attraction in Louisville that is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Awards and reviews[edit]

On February 16, 2011, the "Black Label" expression tied with 100 proof Very Old Barton as "Best Buy Whisk(e)y of the Year" in the 17th Annual Malt Advocate[22] Whisky Awards.

Food critic Morgan Murphy said "The Black Label smells of deep vanilla and cherry and is a bit smoother than the green label."[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". footer. Retrieved 24 November 2015.(registration required)
  2. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Liquor.com. c. 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2015.(registration required)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Robare, Matthew M. (March 10, 2011). "Honey whiskey leaves drinkers buzzing". The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Semmens, Patrick (April 4, 2013). "Cigar Spirits: Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch Bourbon". The Stogie Guys. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  5. ^ http://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2015/07/top-10-best-selling-world-whisky-brands/2/
  6. ^ a b Peters, Josh (September 21, 2015). "Evan Williams Bourbon Review". The Whiskey Jug. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  7. ^ Heaven Hill Distilleries Press Room website page.
  8. ^ Evan Williams Bourbon Builds on Sales Growth with new Multi-Million Dollar Marketing Campaign Archived September 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Heaven Hill Distilleries Press Release, June 21, 2010
  9. ^ "Jack Daniel, the Welsh whiskey man". Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  10. ^ Evan Williams official website - History Archived November 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Evan Williams, 1755-1810 | ExploreKYHistory". ExploreKYHistory. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  12. ^ a b Veach, Michael R. (2013). Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-0-8131-4165-7.
  13. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  14. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  15. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  16. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  17. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  18. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  19. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  20. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  21. ^ "Evan Williams Bourbon". Retrieved November 24, 2015.(registration required)
  22. ^ Malt Advocate. Accessed February 2011.
  23. ^ Murphy, Morgan; Editors of Southern Living magazine (2014). Southern Living Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South's Favorite Foods. Oxmoor House. ISBN 978-0848743161.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

External links[edit]