Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Heaven Hill
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Release Date: Ongoing
Age: NAS (Company states 6-8 years)
Mashbill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye
MSRP: $20 (2021)
Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch honors the year that Evan Williams founded Kentucky’s first distillery. Having been around for a number of years, in May 2021, Heaven Hill reintroduced the brand with a more premium package design. In addition to the updated bottle, the proof was increased, returning to the brand's original 90 proof (up from 86 proof). This makes 1783 Small Batch Bourbon the second highest proof in the Evan Williams Bourbon family. According to the press release, the bourbon is pulled from less than 300 barrels.
Heavy classic bourbon scents of charred oak, caramel, and vanilla fill the glass. Inhaling deeper brings forth notes of light marshmallow and leather, however these take a back seat to the main scents. The aroma is on the more basic side, however, it does its job just fine and adequately opens the sip.
Sweet vanilla, oak, toasted brown sugar, and light caramel swirl together creating a pleasing soiree of sweet flavors that fills the mouth. The palate follows in the nose’s footsteps in the sense that once again the flavors aren’t deep, however, they do a really nice job of commingling. The end result is a pleasingly sweet palate that is the highlight of the sip.
The finish starts with a flash of caramel and light oak that comes and goes before you know what happens. An additional quick hit of heat follows and that, and then swiftly ramps down and fades away, leaving you with a light residual of oak. This exchange seems odd for a bourbon that is composed of 6-8 year old barrels. The lightning fast flavors are adequate, but it is clearly the weakest part of the sip.
For years, Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch was an easy-to-overlook bourbon. Featured in an unassuming bottle and at a mid 80s proof point, it was a bottle that was easy to pass by on shelves. That all changed this year thanks to both a bump in proof and a smart new bottle design. Gone is the unassuming bottle that was easy to overlook, being replaced with a more prominent bottle design with a few smart features. These include an embossed Evan Williams signature in the glass itself along with a wrapped top that hides the twist-off cap beneath it. The end result is a bottle that looks like it should be priced higher than it really is, and one that will now grab consumers’ attention as they walk down the aisle.
Now a bottle redesign itself isn’t all that unique. While it certainly helps the brand, what is more important is the bourbon inside. The increase of four proof points from 86 to 90 has served the brand well, however expectations also have to be set. The resulting bourbon is one that is simplistic and enjoyable yet lacks any defining characteristics that help differentiate it from other sub-$30 bourbons such as Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey 101, or even the company’s own Elijah Craig Small Batch. While it may be lacking unique differentiators flavorwise, it at least has a shot of being noticed thanks to its new packaging.
There was a time when $20 could net you a solid bourbon that was sure to please and was also readily available for purchase. Sadly those days have all but faded away and the death of the $20 bourbon (as we know it) is essentially here. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Evan Williamsn 1783 Small Batch buck this trend and anchor at a flat $20.
Nowadays, $20 will barely cover the cost of a cocktail plus tip, and yet here is Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch in a new redesigned stylish package being priced at a very consumer-friendly price point. Sure the bourbon isn’t a standout against higher priced bourbons, but what it is, is a throwback bourbon to when consumers could expect quality for a low price. The 6 - 8 year aged barrels used along with the move back to 90 proof, helps the bourbon just enough to provide for a sip that is easy enough to appreciate and enjoy. The wallet-friendly price and sweeter flavor profile also allows for easy guilt free cocktail experimentation. Taken all together, Evan Williamsn 1783 Small Batch offers a tremendous value to consumers that is a welcome site to see.
A bottle redesign and a slight increase in proof suddenly gives Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch a fighting chance at being a staple in everyone’s bar.
Not all bourbon needs to stand out to be good and earn a chance to sit on your bar. Sometimes a wallet-friendly price point and the basics are enough to earn that chance. Thanks to a new bottle design and a bump in proof, this sums up Evan Williamsn 1783 Small Batch in a nutshell.
With bourbon prices skyrocketing and limited releases hard to find, Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch is a good reminder that sometimes you don’t have to pay much to be pleased. With an easygoing sip and a nicer looking bottle, Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch becomes a bourbon that I would recommend everyone give a try once. At worst you have a bourbon that you can experiment making cocktails with, however more likely than not, you’ll realize that you now have a bourbon that is straightforward and easy to enjoy. In fact this may become my go-to bourbon to give to individuals that are looking to explore the world of bourbon but don’t know where to start. If you haven’t explored the brand or it’s been a while since you have, give Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch a shot, as you may walk away pleasantly surprised.