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My wife likes to cook pork with bourbon (lovely lady). So she likes keeping bourbon around for this occasion (which I totally support). Before we were married her go-to bourbon was Maker’s Mark. Saints-alive woman! I can’t support pouring 2 cups (16oz, nearly 475 mL, or over half a bottle!) of Maker’s Mark into her brine! (I’m just glad she never grabbed a bottle of Stagg!!). After she did this once with a bottle of Maker’s in my presence I dutifully began my quest for a cheap bourbon for her to cook with. The one requirement I have is that it has to be drinkable on its own.
Enter Evan Williams: I picked up a bottle of the Black label and tasted it against Jack Daniels, Evan Williams Green label, Wild Turkey 101, and Maker’s Mark
Nose: More subdued then either the Jack Daniels or the Green label Evan Williams. This isn’t as sweet or as sour as either of the other two. I am still getting Jolly Ranchers (green ones). I think I am getting some brown sugar but not that much: brown sugar, maple, and coal. Maybe a hint of something sharp? Corn, rye and butter. Now skittles, and other hard candies followed by citrus: oranges and lemons. Now, super sweet sugar cane candies. I think I like the sour Green nose more.
Taste: Much sweeter then the Green. More apple pie with a bit of spice to it (peppercorn, cayenne, and sweet corn). But this is still thin and watery at 43%
Finish: A little splash of coal fire and brown sugar. Medium short with spice notes of cinnamon, brown sugar, cloves, and nutmeg. There are little fire embers here (hickory oak burning in the fire place).
Balance, Complexity: Slightly more complex and well balanced then the Green. The nose had a very distinct impression of a “green Jolly Rancher.” That kind of thing usually impresses me. Still, I feel like there is a lot of room for improvement.
Aesthetic experience: I like the black label and the 43% better then the Green label, but I really feel like this is a rip off of Jack Daniel’s. So I would rather get the “original” that this is trying to emulate . . . some what poorly.
Conclusion: A miss for a cooking bourbon. It wasn’t miles apart from the Evan Williams Green label. Sure, it was sweeter . . . but that was about it. I find the nose of the Green far more interesting, but I enjoyed the taste and finish of the Black far more. I most likely won’t buy either again. For me this is an average-run-of-the-mill bourbon worthy of a C grade. Or in the case a 76.