Skip to Content

Evan Williams: Similar Bourbons & Best Alternatives

Discover 7 Similar Bourbons to the Evan Williams and the Best Alternatives that you can buy!

Henry McKenna

henry-mckenna
NoseCaramel, vanilla, corn
PalateCaramel, vanilla, corn, oak spice
FinishCaramel, oak spice
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toEvan Williams, Benchmark

Henry McKenna is crafted at the Heaven Hill Distillery using the same mash as the Elijah Craig and Evan Williams.

This the basic release bottled at a mere 80 proof but aged for 4 years which is the minimum for Straight Bourbons.

The nose is quite light with a hint of caramel hitting first, followed by vanilla and a touch of sweet corn.

On the palate, Henry McKenna feel watery with very little body. Flavor is smooth and sweet with hints of vanilla and caramel, followed by corn and a tad of oak spice that builds up after a few sips.

There is also a subtle mineral note to it making it somewhat interesting.

The finish is short, with hints of caramel and oak spice with very little to no heat to it.

Henry McKenna is a smooth and sweet easy drinker and better than what it price suggests as it doesn’t have the nail polish notes you expect to find at this price range.

Don’t expect it to win a an award but it will get the job done when looking for an overly easy drinker.

Benchmark

benchmark-bourbon
NoseMaple, vanilla, banana bread
PalateCaramel, cinnamon, oak
FinishVanilla, oak spice, caramel
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkCocktails
Similar toJack Daniel’s, Jim Beam

Benchmark is crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery using the same mash as the Eagle Rare and the Buffalo Trace.

The difference lies in the Benchmark being an entry-level bottle as it’s bottled at a lower proof and aged for just 2 years.

On the nose, Benchmark is smooth and sweet with a hint of maple syrup, along vanilla and banana bread.

On the palate, taste is super thin lacking in texture, with hints of vanilla and caramel and a touch of oak spice.

The finish is practically non existent, with vanilla and caramel hints, along oak spice.

This bourbon is super easy to drink, with almost no warmth. It’s nearly flavorless but no bad flavors either!! making it easy to drink neat.

I would not use it as a mixer as it lacks the punch to deliver juicy cocktails.

Not amazing but for the price certainly not bad as most liquors in this price range.

Old Grand Dad

old-grand-dad-bourbon-whiskey
NoseVanilla, oak, rye spice
PalateRye spice, oak, corn, brown sugar, cinnamon
FinishShort-lived, moderately warm, oak spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toEvan Williams, Basil Hayden’s

The nose is sweet at first, with a hint of vanilla, followed by oak and rye spice.

On the palate, Old Grand Dad hits you with rye spice up-front. As you let it develop it provides oak, along a sweet corn note, brown sugar and cinnamon.

The finish dies fast, with some warmth to it but not much. There is some oak astringency to it but nothing terrible.

Old Grand Dad is cheap and drinkable as it’s smooth, with very little warmth, although it feels thin and watered down lacking in body.

Very easy to drink but nothing to write home about. Throw it with Coke and call it a day.

Old Grand Dad was better when bottled at 86 proof as it had more body and flavor, but is now offered at a mere 80 proof and you can tell the difference.

The OGD makes a good substitute to the Basil Hayden’s as they are made from the same mash at the same distillery.

Early Times

early-times-bourbon
NoseApricot, vanilla, caramel
PalateApricot, caramel, nuts, spice
FinishShort, fruity, oak spice
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toEvan Williams, Old Forester

The nose is quite light, with a hint of apricot, along vanilla and a touch of caramel.

On the palate, Early Times feels somewhat oily providing a good mouthfeel.

On the first sip you get sweet alcohol at first, with notes of apricot and caramel at first, followed by a light hint of roasted nuts and a modest amount of spice.

The finish is short-lived, with a light fruity note, oak spice and a bit of acetone to it.

Early Times is surprisingly smooth and sweet, with nothing wrong about but nothing interesting as you might expect from a whiskey at this price point.

It shows it’s young age, but is not harsh, or bitter making it serviceable when looking for an affordable bourbon to make cocktails. Just a bit of acetone on the finish but nothing too crazy.

Overall, the Early Times is a good option when looking for a smooth and sweet cheap drinker. Nothing particularly interesting about it but it doesn’t have any horrible notes providing value for the money.

The name Early Times was selected as a tribute to the old-school method of making whiskey, which included mashing grain in small tubs and distilling the whisky in copper stills over open fires.

Evan Williams Single Barrel

evan-williams-single-barrel
NoseVanilla, oak, cotton candy
PalateSpice, honey, vanilla and oak
FinishMedium-length, honey and spice
Alcohol content87 proof (43.5% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water, Rocks
Similar toEvan Williams 1783

If you are fond of the traditional Evan Williams, the Single Barrel is an upgrade as it’s a polished version.

The nose is smooth and sweet, with a rich hint of vanilla, followed by cotton candy and a tad of oak.

On the palate, the Evan Williams feels thin lacking in body, hits you with spice at first, that rapidly mellows out into honey and vanilla, with just a bit of oak.

The finish has a decent length, somewhat dry, with very little heat, leaving a trace of honey and spice behind.

The Evan Williams Single Barrel is well rounded, with no over dominant hints. Has a nice smell and taste that does not overwhelm.

A little spicy up-front and a bit dry on the finish but overall very smooth and enjoyable.

Easy drinking neat but as it lacks the punch to make a tasty cocktails as it misses the warmth that makes cocktails tasty.

Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon

wild-turkey-81
NoseCorn, vanilla, charred oak
PalateOak, corn, vanilla, rye spice, caramel
FinishMedium-length, vanilla, spice, oak
Alcohol content81 proof (40.5% ABV)
How to drinkCocktails
Similar toJack Daniel’s, Jim Beam

The nose is faint and sweet with notes of corn, vanilla and charred oak.

On the palate, the Turkey 81 delivers a sweet taste, rich in corn, vanilla and caramel at first, followed by rye spice and the charred oak note of every Wild Turkey Bourbon.

The finish has a medium length, with a bit of bite, charred oak and lingering sweetness.

81 Proof is a good entry-level bourbon, mostly sweet, with some warmth to it, although it feels thin and somewhat watered-down.

Good option for those looking for a mixer to make cheap cocktails. Not a great sipper but becomes better when adding ice as it loses some warmth and the charred oak bitterness.

Old Tub

old-tub-kentucky-straight-bourbon
NoseCinnamon, caramel, vanilla
PalateBaking spice, oak, brown sugar, peanuts
FinishRye spice, oak
Alcohol content100 proof (50% ABV)
How to drinkCocktails
Similar toJim Beam, Wild Turkey 101

The nose hits with cinnamon at first, followed by caramel and vanilla. Very little ethanol for a 100 proof bourbon, though.

On the palate, the Old Tub has a creamy texture providing a nice texture.

First sip is high in baking spice and rye spice, transitioning to oak and brown sugar, along the typical roasted peanut note of the whiskeys crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery.

The finish brings rye spice and oak, with very little warmth making an easy yet tasty bourbon.

There are a few things that make this bourbon particularly interesting:

Old Tub uses a sour mash, meaning distillers used part of the fermented “mash” from the previous batch to create the new batch. 

The sour mash process helps distillers maintain consistent flavors in their future batches.

Another features are that this release has not been chill-filtered and is bottled in bond making it quite unique.

Old Tub is a pleasant drinker that you can enjoy neat or over ice and its price allows for experimentation when in the mood for cocktails.

In summary, this is good tasting bourbon at an attractive price providing good value for the money!

Similar Bourbons & Best Alternatives to Evan Williams: Buying Guide

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

BourbonPriceProof
Evan Williams$1190
Henry McKenna$1480
Benchmark$1180
Old Grand Dad$2080
Early Times$1180
Evan Williams Single Barrel$3286
Wild Turkey Bourbon$2281
Old Tub$25100

Evan Williams Bourbon

evan-williams-bourbon
NoseCaramel, vanilla, honey, ethanol
PalateHoney, spice, old leather, oak char
FinishOld leather, oak char, lingering spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toBulleit Bourbon, Four Roses

The nose is sweet, with notes of honey, caramel, vanilla and just a whiff of ethanol.

On the palate, the Evan Williams has a decent body as it has some texture. Flavor is sweet at first, with a hint of old leather although it has some oak char bitterness, but nothing too severe.

The finish has more of that old leather hint, is bitey and warm, with lingering spicy notes.

Adding a dash of water makes it better as you get a bit more of caramel sweetness while removing some of the hard edges.

Evan Williams Black Label will never win an award, this a basic offering, a little rough around the edges when compared to fine bourbons.

But not a bad whiskey and it won’t break the bank. The low price point makes it a good choice for the person that is not picky and just wants to have nightly pour without spending much.

The Evan Williams is a whiskey to keep at hand as it makes one the best bourbons to mix as it has the warmth, flavor and price to make good cocktails.