Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Evan Williams Bourbon vs. Jack Daniel's

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


Today we're going to talk about Evan Williams bourbon. It's good and cheap, but not as good or cheap as Old Crow, so I'll only stock it on occasions when I'm entertaining my friend Addy, who drinks the stuff like whales drink water, if whales indeed drink water, which you figure they must and lots of it (but don't take that the wrong way, because Addy's in really good shape.)

The next such special Addy-feeding occasion will be my housewarming party in May. I'm not sure where this warmin'-needin' house will be, but it won't be in Western Massachusetts.

I moved from New York to Amherst, Massachusetts, in September because my research assistant (let's call her Emily) had another year of school out here, and the only thing I hate more than talking on the phone is sitting on the bus. It was a deeply weird decision but it's worked out very well, mostly because Emily is a great roommate but also because Western Massachusetts, for all its heartbreaking indifference to my love of people who hustle and restaurants that stay open for eight consecutive hours, takes beer very seriously.

Amherst is a good drinking town in the beer way, but it's tough because there are only eight bars within reasonable walking distance of our apartment. I know that's much better than some of you have it, but we all make our own lot in life*, so if you've only got seven (or Jesus, six?) bars within a comfy stumble of your bed, you need to either get out of prison or rethink your priorities. Eights bars isn't enough, so even though Amherst is cool, we try to get out of town on the weekend.

*Yeah, I know. But I'm trying to make a point here.

I love Presidents' Day, because it's the only Monday in February that isn't Emily's birthday, Valentine's Day, or just some stupid Monday in February. I mean, she's a good kid, but who has her birthday a week before Valentine's Day? And on a Monday? I don't want to be too harsh here, but that's not the most considerate scheduling in the world. But she made it up to me by taking me to civilization for Presidents' Day.

We spent the first night at her parents' house in Natick. It was a good time. Her parents can cook, and her brother can eat. I forgot how infuriating it is to watch a rail-thin 20-year-old eat my weight in mashed potatoes. Drew, I cannot wait for you to get fat and die, just on principle. Otherwise, you're a good dude. After dinner, me and the fellas broke out the Old Crow Reserve, which I didn't know existed until a couple of you dears mentioned it in the comments last week. Well done, commenters! That stuff is great, and I'm pretty sure it's what Maggie wanted me to write about this week, but here's the thing: once we finished half the bottle, we realized Mom would be a bit pissed to see a half-gone bottle on the counter in the morning, so we did the only reasonable thing and made it an all-gone bottle. So I don't have a lot of coherent memories of Old Crow Reserve just yet. Stay tuned.

The next night's mission was to drink Evan Williams and Jack Daniel's with my only Kentuckian friend, Meredith the pizza girl, who brought Addy, the Evan Williams junkie. I read somewhere that EW tasted like a knock-off JD, and I wanted that to be true, because the bottle and marketing are very clearly imitations. But nah, not really. I don't like Jack Daniel's, but I will admit that it has its own thing going. Nothing tastes like Jack's gross-but-popular cinnamon/charcoal/licorice profile.


I brought a flask of Evan Williams to an accommodating bar, and we divvied it up next to a couple shots of Jack, and the girls got to note-taking (see above; Meredith's responsible for the awful penmanship, Addy for the fantastic drawing). Meredith says Evan Williams tastes like Cheerios and vitamins. I'll buy the Cheeriosity, and I'm not qualified to comment on vitamin flavor. She found the Jack Daniel's to be sweeter and grassier, which is apparently a good thing. I don't know. I'm not a huge Cheerio guy—I'll never procreate because I refuse to carry around a Ziploc bag of Cheerios, as apparently mandated by modern parenting law-—but I like them more than I like grass.

Addy, bless her, preferred the Evan Williams. I had to recuse myself due to my overwhelming anti-Jack prejudice. So our tasting produced a tie that was broken at the cash register, where the liquor store guy expects you to like Jack Daniel's twice as much.