Evan Williams Black Label Vs. EW Single Barrel
I am looking for opinions on Evan Williams Black Label bourbon at $9.50 a bottle vs. the EW Single Barrel bourbon at $24.50.
I have read good reviews here of the EW Black Label. Obviously, it is a very good value at that price. How good is the EW Single Barrel? Is it 2 1/2 times as good as the EW Black Label?
I can't speak for Evan Williams specifically, but if you're drinking it on the rocks or neat, yes, the single barrel's much better and worth the price. If you're mixing it, it won't be as great a difference (still noticeable). Do what serves your economic situation best and don't worry so much. Or buy both and use the single barrel for your first drink or two and shift down from there.
I don't know what it means for one bourbon to be two and a half times as good as another. But I agree with the previous poster that it is worth it to try both. Evan Williams Black Label is probably the best value out there and is very very good, but the single barrel is on a whole different level and worth trying, especially considering that other single barrel bourbons cost twice that at least.
I have found that bourbon is a very individual thing and that higher price and better reputation does not necessarily mean that you as an individual will enjoy it more. As an example, I had my first taste of Buffalo Trace in January, fell in love with it, and got a bottle. Then I read that Blanton's is made by the same distillery, same mash bill, just aged longer and selected as a particularly good expression. I longed for a bottle but could not bring myself to spend the $60 it costs in the local package stores. Then I managed to obtain a bottle for $45 through a friend who has a friend who owns a liquor store in the next town over.
I must say that I far prefer the plain old Buffalo Trace to the Blanton's. The Buffalo Trace to me is just smoother, perhaps due to the lower alcohol content but at any rate I just prefer it. Nevertheless I am glad I got a bottle of Blanton's because had I not, every time I drank the Buffalo Trace I would probably be wishing it was Blanton's instead.
So get a bottle of each. If you love the single barrel, great. If you actually prefer the Black Label, or feel the difference in enjoyment isn't worth the difference in price, stick with the Black Label and feel good about your savings.
I will reiterate what's already been said. The black label is a good mixer, and I have had it straight as well. It's great as a mixer, definitely on par with Jack Daniels or Jim Beam at a far lower price.
The Single Barrel is one of my favorites. I like it more than Basil Hayden or Baker's, and it's well below both of those in price. I have an EW Single Barrel 1998 and a 1997 right now. Both are excellent, and I pay about $25 a bottle here in CA, versus about $35 for the Basil Hayden and about $40-$45 for the Baker's.