By Father John Rayls
I drink Scotch, Irish, Canadian and American whiskey. Although I’m happy to try any offering of any of the above. In fairness, I love bourbon.
Yet I do exclude any whiskey that is flavored or infused with something to alter the beautiful elixir that comes from our aging barrels. I say this upfront to point out that I’m not an unbiased observer. Just as I do not want my cigars “infused,” I don’t want my Whiskey “infused”. My bias is for a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey consumed neat.
That’s what makes this review so interesting for me. My managing editor asked if I would be willing to review a sample of Heaven Hill’s newest offering of Evan Williams Peach Bourbon. It’s another in their series of flavored bourbons including peach, cherry, honey and cinnamon. I should also mention I am a huge fan of Elijah Craig, also from Heaven Hill, makers of Evan Williams.
We should drink bourbon because it tastes good. But therein lies the problem. Drinking and enjoying bourbon is a very personal experience. Of course, we can’t fault the distilleries for trying to expand their fan base or their profit margins. I enjoy the complexity of flavors, understanding the process and constantly reading about the history of bourbon. However, others enjoy bourbon for entirely different reasons which are just as valid as mine. I’m sure the infused whiskeys are reaching an untapped audience and expanding the empire (+20%). Evan Williams Peach will be initially available starting May 1 to the following markets: Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, North, Carolina, Georgia, Upstate New York, Ohio, Arkansas and California.
I would be much more comfortable if it were labeled as a liqueur rather than as a bourbon. It’s bottled at 70 proof, but it’s title is deceiving. My barista friends describe some of their coffee concoctions as coffee forward. This simply means you will taste more coffee than milk or added flavoring. This peach bourbon is very peach forward. I should probably say again that it is very peach forward. It reminds me of the syrup used to flavor snow cones. It’s not that thick, but the flavor is that strong. However, lurking underneath that strong sweet peach flavoring is still a 70 proof bourbon.
The Evan Williams website describes their new bourbon as:
- PROOF: 70 Proof
- COLOR: Golden Amber
- NOSE: Fresh, sweet Peach with Bourbon behind
- TASTE: Sweet peach with hints of honey & caramel
- FINISH: Bourbon is present, with a lasting soft sweetness.
My observances included a nose that was purely peach and a taste and finish that matched. In addition, I would describe the color as a soft peach orange.
I tried the Evan Williams peach bourbon three different ways. Not believing I could drink it neat, I tried it over a large glass of ice. I drank it all, but it was too sweet and too peachy for me to really enjoy.
Heaven Hill suggests this should be consumed as a chilled shot, on the rocks or in a mixed drink. So, the next night I created a mix of 2/3 black unsweetened tea to 1/3 peach bourbon. It was refreshing, but still a little too peach forward for my tastes. However, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, my third try created a Holy Cow moment! I poured a generous helping of the whiskey concoction over vanilla bean ice cream and it was a home run. It was truly fantastic over ice cream and I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this dessert to the most discriminating whiskey drinker.
The recommended price for Evan Williams Peach is $14.99 for a 750 ml bottle. Initially, fifth-sized bottles of Evan Williams Peach will come with a $7 rebate (in states where this is legal) as an ad incentive.