“Could the whiskey of the fall releases be widely available and under $30?” I ask myself at the store. The hang tag reads:
Those of you that are marketing averse probably sighed reading that. There are a few whiskies that pay homage to our servicemen and women, but often are expensive NDP brands that play on the military theme. This bottle has a history and lineage as it carries the name Evan Williams on it. It’s Heaven Hill. They have so much inventory, there must be plenty of room to play for this one, right?
I have hope. There are two bottles left on the shelf. The price is less than $30, so surely there will be no regret in buying this whiskey. The question is if the highest of my hopes could really be met. What exact bottle am I talking about?
It’s Evan Williams 1783 American Hero Edition.
It even has its own website, which gives the back story of the bottle and the initiative that is supported by Evan Williams. I find it interesting it has its own URL, and is not just a page that is part of the larger Heaven Hill or Evan Williams online experience. The website further explains:
“This year, through the American-Made Heroes Foundation Fund, we’re donating $75,000 to nonprofit organizations that support the veteran community. It’s our way of giving back to those who served.”
There is plenty of info on the bottle as well. The hangtag gives you the location where the liquid was aged. In this case, it comes from the Bernheim warehouses 1E and 1J, but that does not give us enough information to guesstimate just how limited these bottles are. After all, rarity is what drives the secondary market, no? I jest, so let’s move on to the rest of the info.
The hangtag also provides the names of the heroes who selected our $30 bottle. Headshots give us faces to go with the names. They are:
Brian Barber, Sergeant E5, U.S. Marine Corps – Mission Fish
Mandy Hazelton, Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (RET.) – Genesis Joy House
Laura Jeanne, Chief Warrant Officer 3, U.S. Army – Adapt-Able Foundation
David E. McCracken, Colonel, U.S. Army (RET.) – Veteran Smiles Foundation
Chaz Koch, Petty Officer 3rd Class, U.S. Navy – Operation Paws on the Ground
Susan Wagner, Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Diver, U.S. Navy (RET.) – Smiles for Veterans
I personally thank you all for your service and for this fine bottle that you have chosen. Now I write about it and find myself in the odd place of scoring it.
As you can tell, I desperately want this to be fantastic. Evan Williams already dealt the fans of its whiskey a blow not long ago by deciding to limit the distribution of its single barrel bourbon. The 86.6 proof single barrel with the black wax top was a favorite amongst enthusiasts to suggest to their friends.
I loved telling friends to grab a bottle of the EW single barrel alongside the typical Evan Williams, so that they could taste them side by side and see how a whiskey could take on different tastes and aromas… all without burning their face off, as the proof was low and manageable for those that are new to the category.
The best part of that EWSB? It was under $30. Heaven Hill was the whiskey company that usually gave you the most for your money, but in recent years they have tried to shed that designation. The decision that caused the biggest rumble was when they discontinued the Kentucky only 6 year bottled-in-bond south of $20 to release a 7-year at a price tag north of $40 nationally. Recent releases of the 7-year have come down to around $45 in my area, which is a welcome sign. In that case they gave us an extra year and wider availability, but a much higher price tag; more than triple.
Then they decide to take away a national treat and make it exclusive to Kentucky, which I do not begrudge them. After all, the spiritual home of bourbon should get some exclusive stuff that doesn’t cost an exorbitant amount of money.
Heaven Hill recently decided to release an Evan Williams 10-year-old anniversary bottling to commemorate their time on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville. That bottle was available at their Evan Williams experience, which I had the good fortune of being in town for. The price? $100
So, having said all that: I am looking at this bottle that costs less than $30, is distributed nationally, and has been picked by veterans who have served our country. Yes, I want this to be good. Still, as a Malt reviewer I have to be aware of my bias and push it aside. How did it go?
Evan Williams 1783 American Hero Edition – Review
2023 edition. 90 proof (45% ABV).
Color: Iced tea.
On the nose: Whisps of vanilla and white frosting. The faintest hint of wintery oak and pecan wood.
In the mouth: Upon entry, the refreshing and familiar Evan Williams signature vanilla is rich and dense in this pour. A light touch of honey and corn bread. The finish is brief and hints at a touch of oak. No amount of sipping or drinking will bring about deeper oak notes, but the rest is superb.
A welcome version of that signature Evan Williams profile that plays up some notes, but is missing some of the midrange. At this price, I give it a full extra point per the Malt scale, and will be happy to crack this one open during the holiday seasons with my friends and family. Cheers and thank you for your service heroes.