It's nice to see that this Advent Calendar isn't just about Scotch; three days in and we're into our third country already!
Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 is a Kentucky Bourbon - bottled in 2013, making it 10 years old.
It's a gloriously rich, copper coloured spirit bottled at a moderate 43.3% ABV.
The aroma is pure bourbon; sweet caramel, buckets of vanilla and a backbone of toasted oak. Beneath is just a hint of warming spice. Watered, the sweetness fades and takes the vanilla with it. What's left is a slightly wooded alcohol that puts me in mind of a distillery warehouse.
It's more powerful on the tongue than the nose suggests, with oak and woody spice notes initially overwhelming the surprisingly subtle sweetness. As it sits in the mouth, more fruity notes appear - rich, sticky dried apricots - and a touch of slightly harsh grain alcohol.
Water reduces that initial powerful hit, but sadly reduces everything else too. It becomes far more approachable, but is robbed of any real character.
Definitely a bourbon to enjoy neat, but a little rough around the edges. 2.5 stars.
This review was originally published 3rd December, 2014. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.