Jim Beam vs Evan Williams – Which has the Best Bottle of Bourbon?

There is possibly no other widely contested, highly debated, and consistently improving alcoholic beverage class than whiskey. There are so many different types, brands, and varieties of whiskey currently on the market that it can be really difficult trying to figure out exactly which one offers the precise taste, flavor, and contents that you’re seeking.

Unlike other alcoholic beverages that have far fewer regulations, whiskey is probably one of the most regulated alcoholic beverages out there. The United States has very strict rules that govern the production, distillation, aging, and bottling methods used in any and every whiskey selection.

These laws are in place to protect the drinker from being scammed by false advertising and labels which can easily disguise the exact quality of a certain liquor or alcohol selection. Because of this, every time that you pick up a bottle of bourbon or whiskey, it will retain a consistent taste and flavor regardless of where you buy it from.

jim beam

When it comes to selecting the right whiskey option that has all of your desired qualities, there is an abundance of selections for you to choose from.

All of the whiskey options available on the market have very distinctive tastes and flavors infused into their main mash bill which delivers a unique drinking experience every time that you open the bottle. Because of the sheer amount of different bourbon options out there, it can be difficult to find the right selection if you don’t know what to look for.

Two of the most popular bourbon whiskey brands on the market are Jim Beam and Evan Williams. Both of these whiskey selections are crafted using very different distillation, fermentation, and aging techniques all of which infuse very distinctive tastes and flavors into each bottle. Depending on your preferred flavor profile and taste, these two varieties can satisfy your desire for a cold glass of whiskey on any occasion.

If you’ve been looking for a premium whiskey selection to drink on any occasion that you desire but haven’t been able to find the right fit, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re going to go over all of the main tasting elements and notes that you will experience when drinking both of these whiskey options so that you will be able to make an educated purchase decision when it comes to which one is best for you.

To begin, let’s take a close look at the history behind both of these whiskey brands so that you can get a better idea as to why they have become so prominent today.

The Main Differences Between Jim Beam vs Evan Williams

The main differences between Jim Beam vs Evan Williams are:

  • Jim Beam has 40% alcohol by volume, whereas Evan Williams has 43%.
  • Jim Beam is being aged for 4 years, whereas Evan Williams is being aged 5-7 years depending on the particular selection.
  • Jim Beam belongs in some of the pricier whiskeys, whereas Evan Williams is in the more affordable class.

As you can see, both of these brands have very long and extensive histories in the bourbon industry which still affect it until this very day. The history behind both of these whiskey selections has also had an impact on the way that they produce their various alcoholic beverage options. No two bottles of whiskey are the same even if you buy the same brand, however, there are some unique traits about both of these brands which makes them vastly different from one another.

Trying to identify the main flavor profile of whiskey can be difficult without any prior experience or knowledge about what to look for, however, by using the variables and elements that we listed above, you can accurately assess the general quality of drink that you can expect when opening a bottle.

Understanding how to differentiate between the quality of different whiskeys is very important if you want to save money on expensive whiskey varieties that don’t meet your taste preferences. The ability to discern the quality of a whiskey is a skill that is developed over time, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not able to tell the subtle differences between each brand because bourbon often times can have very similar tastes and flavor profiles that only vary by one ingredient.

All of the main differences that we listed above make each one of these brands catered to very specific drinkers. If you’ve been drinking straight bourbon whiskey for a while, you will have no issue identifying how all of these different elements impact the quality of whiskey that you experience inside of your glass.

Now that we’ve gone over all of the main differences between both of these whiskey brands, it’s time to take a look at the core flavor profiles and notes that you will get when drinking either variety.

History Behind the Company: Jim Beam vs. Evan Williams

When it comes to straight bourbon whiskey, you can’t get much better than Jim Beam and Evan Williams as both of these brands have very extensive histories in the industry that date back centuries. The history of these brands plays a major role in the final drink that ends up in your hands, this is due to the fact that both brands use very different techniques and processes to accomplish the final flavor profile that you experience in any given bottle.

To better help you understand what to expect from both selections in terms of taste and flavor, the following section is going to be dedicated to providing you with an overview of the history behind both brands so that you will be able to correlate all of the different elements that you experience to a specific event or occurrence.

Jim Beam History

drinking jeam beam

Jim Beam was started by German settlers who migrated into the United States in 1740, the family was known as the Boehm family. They had an exceptional vision to live out their fullest potential during the colonial era which is what ultimately led them to move to an area now known as central Kentucky just 48yrs after they initially arrived on American shores.

This would prove to be an ideal location due to the abundance of limestone springs nearby in addition to the climate being perfect for whiskey bourbon production. Originally, the Boehm family’s primary focus was on growing and cultivating corn since at the time prohibition hadn’t occurred yet and alcohol consumption was still sort of a “wild west” industry. however, in the 1700s many other families had already begun producing whiskey primarily in what is now known as Western Pennsylvania.

They achieved this by using recipes that they brought with them from their country of origin is that most of them were primarily of Scotch, Irish, or German descent.

During this time period, the United States government would begin offering incentives for those individuals who moved west in order to produce corn. One of those individuals happened to be Jacob Beam who used his father’s distillation methods and whiskey making recipes to convert his unused crop into fine bourbon that was much sweeter than most of the other options available at the time.

The First Sale and Production

In 1795, Jacob Beam would begin selling his whiskey bourbon and it was this same year in which he made his first sale of Old Jake Beam Sour Mash. This was ironically only three years after Kentucky had officially become a state and once the town got a taste of what Jacob was distilling, they were hooked. One of the distinctive facts about Jacob’s bourbon was that it was one of the most popular selections in an area that was already saturated with over 2,000 distilleries.

This was all right before the 1800s which is the time period in which bourbon whiskey production and consumption reached a new high. In 1820, Jacob Beam gave his distillery over to his son David Beam who would have to deal with the challenges of government regulations, taxation, and legalization which are all factors that his father didn’t have to deal with during his time as a bourbon maker in the 1700s.

An interesting thing to note about the distribution of whiskey during this time is that it was nearly impossible to transport the barrels of finished liquid across the country like we do today. Because of this, people interested in getting their hands on some bourbon would have to go to the distillery themselves and fill up their bottles directly from the barrel.

David Beam, however, had an impeccable aptitude for foresight and knew that the business would begin to expand rapidly which is why he enlarged the floor space of his distillery to prepare himself for the production demand he would soon experience.

Shortly after, the invention of steamboats and trains were being implemented into the society which allowed distillers to begin shipping their bourbon selections outside of state lines.

This time period also denotes a very interesting point for the bourbon industry because many distillers were beginning to run out of barrels to store and transport their products in, because of this, many distillers resorted to using old vinegar and fish barrels for bourbon storage and transportation. As you may expect, the left-over residue of the previously stored content ruined the bourbon do distillers thought of a clever way to solve the problem which was charring the barrels.

This is how the use of charred-oak barrels became a prominent practice in the bourbon industry as we know it today. All of this is what led to the Jim Beam brand that we all know and love and today, over the years there were advancements to the production and bottling process which increased the overall production rate and quality of the liquor produced by the company.

Evan Williams History

evan williams

Evan Williams was born in Dale, Pembrokeshire and migrated to the United States around the end of the 18th century. Bringing his Welsh heritage to the US, Williams decided to settle in Kentucky which is where he began distilling his bourbons in 1783.

The area in which Williams was originally producing his bourbon varieties is now Louisville, Kentucky. Since William’s distillery was the first commercial distillery in Kentucky, the state decided to add a landmark point where the distillery once stood so that people who pass by can get a quick glimpse of the history in their local area.

Williams went on to become the first wharf master in the entire state of Kentucky in 1797 which further extends his impact on the area by large. These closely-held historical events are pretty evident in the labeling and bottling of many Evan Williams whiskey selections where you’ll noticeably see the words “Since 1783” and “Kentucky’s First Distillery” on shelved bottles. While the company has been consolidated today, they still hold close the roots of the brand and its inherent value through each bottle of whiskey that they produce.

Now that we’ve gone over some of the brief histories behind both of these whiskey brands, it’s time to take a look at some of the main differences that you’ll experience when drinking either of them.

Core Profile: Jim Beam vs. Evan Williams

jim beam whiskey

We already covered the main differences in terms of overall distillation, fermentation, and aging that both of these brands have. Aside from those main differences, there is also a lot of different tasting notes and ingredients that are included in each drink selection that make their overall taste and profile distinctly different from one another.

Everyone has their own preferred tastes and flavors that they like to experience when drinking straight bourbon whiskey and when it comes to finding the right fit, there is certainly no shortage of options for you to choose from.

When comparing two highly respected bourbon brands like Jim Beam and Evan Williams, you must take an in-depth look at the entire process involved with converting the yeast, rye, and barley into bourbon that is then bottled and sold. Both of these whiskey brands are known for their unique tastes and flavor infusions that have captivated bourbon drinkers for centuries.

Below, we’re going to take you on an inside look at the core flavor profiles and elements that are present in both of these whiskey varieties. The information that we’re going to provide you within the following section can be used to help you make the proper decision when it comes to which one of these brands has the taste and flavor profile you desire most.

By using your existing knowledge of whiskey, you will be able to apply all of these factors that we’re going to cover when choosing between these two brands.

Jim Beam Core Profile

Jim Beam offers a wide selection of different bourbon whiskey options all of which have very unique recipes that differ in terms of taste and how they hit your tongue when drinking them. Since each recipe varies so much, we’re just going to provide you with the core flavor profile of their classic bourbon options.

You can get a sense of how the other selections will taste by comparing the tasting elements that we cover in this section against their core flavor profile since they are made by the same distillery.

One thing to note is that Jim Beam bourbon whiskey varieties, in general, are known for their unique smoothness and rich flavors. This means that you will be able to mix your selected variety with virtually anything that you’d like without experiencing a decrease in overall quality or flavor.

Below, we’re going to take an in-depth look at exactly what elements this whiskey selection contains and how they impact its overall flavor.

  • Blend: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Alcohol by Volume concentration: 40%
  • Age: 4yrs
  • Eye: Pale caramel bordering on rustic orange

Main Tasting Notes

Nose

This particular whiskey bourbon variety has a slightly watery nose that is filled with caramel flavors which are backed by the signature corn and spice elements that you can expect in any Jim Beam variety. Once you get into the bottle a little deeper, you will begin experiencing hints of vanilla notes, red licorice, and citrus zest that adds a nice and well-balanced taste to the whiskey overall. At the tail end of the nose, there is a faint herbal note that adds a nice quality to the blend overall.

Taste

The overall flavors and taste of this whiskey have very similar elements which aren’t something that you find often when it comes to bourbon. It has a distinct caramel taste that is accentuated by the underlying vanilla, anise, corn, and citrus zest present throughout the body of the drink.

It still has that note-worthy spice that people have come to love and expect from Jim Beam with a few other special ingredients and tasting notes included. There is also a faint taste of yeast that is found in the backend of this selection which adds a nice finishing touch.

Feel

This whiskey bourbon option goes down very easy and has a very relaxed body to it. It’s simple yet potent enough to tease your tongue with just enough excitement to make the selection enjoyable to drink. The overall feel of this bourbon on the tongue is light, robust, rich, and deep which makes this whiskey option great for those who want a simple yet robust option to drink.

Finish

This Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey selection has a very nice and drawn out finish that includes notes of caramel and corn which provide a nice pop and edge when drinking it. It also has elements of citrus and oak infused into it which is nice and earthy however it doesn’t add too much weight to the whiskey which is nice.

Overall Profile

Jim Beam is known for its smooth, rich, and powerful tasting elements that are included in each bottle produced. This selection of classic Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey by the brand does not disappoint, the overall profile of this bourbon is one that has a heavy presence of water in the nose yet it’s still very smooth and robust in terms of how each ingredient hits the tongue.

Evan Williams Core Profile

Evan Williams is known for being sort of a modern yet classical brand of bourbon whiskey that adds a lot of new and exciting elements for both traditional and new whiskey drinkers. The brand offers a wide selection of different “straight” bourbon whiskey selections in addition to their specialty line of flavored whiskey’s. You can find an Evan Williams bourbon option that goes well with whatever occasion or event that you might be indulging in.

Since they offer so many different selections, the flavors and tastes differ dramatically from one selection to the other. For purposes of keeping it as simple as possible for you to take in, we’re going to give you an overview of their classic bourbon whiskey options so that you can get an idea of how all of their other selections taste.

Below, we’re going to take an in-depth look at exactly what elements this whiskey selection contains and how they impact its overall flavor.

  • Cask: new charred oak
  • Aging: 5-7 years
  • Alcohol by volume concentration: 43%
  • Mash bill: 12% barley, 13% rye, and 75% corn
  • Eye: New leather
  • Blend: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey

Main Tasting Elements

Nose

The nose on this bourbon has a very dark caramel flavor that dominates most of its recipe. There are also hints of butterscotch sprinkled throughout this selection with additions of vanilla frosting which delivers an all-around sweet and very rich texture.

There are also notes of corn in the nose which provide a nice neutralizing base to offset some of the other very potent flavors. This particular Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey has a nose that is very unique, in addition to all of the elements we’ve covered, you will also find hints of red licorice and spice that distinguish this selection from a number of competing brands on the market.

There is also a light hint of woody astringency that is predominantly found on the backend of the whiskey.

Palate

This bourbon whiskey has a very robust palate that incorporates various tastes and flavors like the nose. There are hints of peppery spice, citrus rind, and caramel corn which provide a powerful blend of flavors and textures that will excite every fiber on your tongue. In addition to all of those unique palate elements, this whiskey also has a nice blend of corn nuts and imitation vanilla which is nice and robust without being too much on the tongue for you to handle.

Finish

This bourbon whiskey has a medium-bodied finish that has hints of raw corn grain, peanut butter, and caramel which delivers a well-balanced taste that doesn’t linger on your tongue too long however it is just enough for you to savor all of the flavors included in the mixture.

It also has a slight touch of spice added to the bourbon mixture which provides a nice hit on the tongue while drinking. The finish on this bourbon selection goes very well with the overall nose and palate that you’ll experience while drinking this option.

Body

The overall body on this Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is a medium one that has a very light and warm feel to it. The body is light enough to not interfere with the other main tasting elements however it is not too light to the point where it can barely be felt on the nice tongue.

Overall Profile

The overall profile of this classic Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey option by Evan Williams includes hints of various opposing flavors that all seem to coincide very well together. This bourbon is very smooth and rich in terms of the main tasting notes that you will find throughout and has a very distinct taste that you can’t find in other options currently on store shelves.

As you can tell from reading the section above, both of these bourbon whiskey brands have very different tastes, flavors, and all around that will suit the preferred drinking style of many different people.

When it comes to deciding on which one is right for you, look at all of the main tastes elements that are present in the core body of this drink. Compare these elements to all of the main factors that draw you to your current bourbon of choice so that you can correlate tastes to ensure that you make the right purchase decision.

Now, we’re going to give you our opinion on which one of these bourbon whiskey brands is best from our point of view.

Our Decision

evan

By now, you know everything that there is to know as it relates to what separates Jim Beam and Evan Williams. When it comes to deciding on which one of these brands is best, there really is no definitive way to tell since the final decision will be a totally subjective one on your own accord.

However, just by assessing the main tasting elements, ingredients, and flavor profiles of these selections, we can give you our opinion about which one we feel is the most enjoyable. The winner of that title for this guide is going to be Evan Williams.

Evan Williams wins this comparison due to the complexity of their selection when compared to Jim Beam and also the overall quality of the drink as it pertains to the finish and palate.

Which Bourbon is the Smoothest?

While Jim Beam has established a reputation in the industry for producing high-quality bourbon whiskey that is extremely smooth, Evan Williams beat them in this comparison. While the Jim Beam selection is smooth without a question, it’s the kind of smoothness that you would expect from a regular glass of water. This as opposed to the smooth velvet-like texture that you experience when drinking the Evan Williams selection.

FAQ’s

How long does bourbon age?

The aging process and length for each bourbon variety will vary all depending on the distillery.

Can I mix these selections to make cocktails?

Yes, you can mix both of these whiskey options with other drinks to create cocktails.

How much does each brand cost?

The price for each brand will vary all depending on the particular selection that you choose and where you decide to purchase it from.

Alternative Recommendations

In the following section, we’re going to provide you with our top alternative recommendations if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for in the varieties offered by Jim Beam and Evan Williams.

#1 Ezra Brooks

ezra brooks

Ezra Brooks is a top-shelf bourbon whiskey selection made by Heaven Hill distilleries and is typically aged for 4 years. This selection has notes of malted barley, rye, and corn which make up its main mash bill in addition to other unique tasting elements such as oaky dark fruit, spice, nuts, light herbs, and much more.

#2 Old Crow

old crow

Old Crow has an alcoholic by volume concentration of 43% and is made in Kentucky which makes it a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey classification. This selection has hints of vanilla, caramel, and oak infused throughout which provides a nice delicate balance on the tongue. It’s also very light and sweet which makes it the perfect option to mix with drinks for cocktail creation.

Conclusion

We’ve covered all of the most important facts and information that you need to know about all of the intricacies that go into making both Jim Beam and Evan Williams bourbon selections. Use all of these resources we’ve included in this guide to help you make an educated decision about which one of these whiskey options will fit your desired taste preferences perfectly.

Recommended Reads:

  • If Jim Beam is your favorite whiskey, here you can check how Jim Beam Black vs White Label Compares and which one you would prefer most…
  • Jim Beam and Jack Daniels have lots of different flavors that are worth trying, and here take a look a lot more about each label, how they compare and which one to try next.
  • When looking out a different type of whiskey than the one drinking now, check George Dickel vs  Jack Daniels and learn more about the process of make, and which is their finest bottle to have next!

Ben Holt

Ben has years of experience with wine, whiskey, and scotch. After becoming a wine sommelier, he decided to focus his attention on the dark southern gold we call whiskey. Now a seasoned vet in the whiskey game, he regularly provides Whiskey Watch with the latest whiskey info and his personal opinion on the best whiskeys in the world.
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