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Jim Beam Bourbon vs Evan Williams: Which is Better? (2022)

Last Updated on August 10, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Jim Beam and Evan Williams are some of the world’s most popular budget bourbons. The two brands are in-demand among the masses and absolute bar staples. 

We like both whiskey brands and think they’re okay options.

Here’s our exclusive take on Jim Beam vs Evan Williams to help you decide which bottle to get the next time you’re at the liquor store. 

Jim Beam vs Evan Williams: Bourbon Face-Off 

Jim Beam vs. Evan Williams: Bourbon Face-Off 

Both Jim Beam and Evan Williams are synonymous with the words “Kentucky budget bourbon.” Bourbon drinkers love them because they’re widely accessible, have a friendly flavor profile, and are quite cheap. 

If you’re looking for a fail-proof bourbon whiskey for the next time you’ll have friends over, you can’t go wrong with both labels.

Jim Beam and Evan Williams are inexpensive bourbon labels that you can get for under $20, with the latter being slightly more expensive. 

Perhaps the higher proof and older barrels give it a more expensive price tag.  

Main Differences 

Main Differences 

History & Origin

While Jim Beam hails from the Bluegrass State, did you know it has German origins? The Bohms were farmers who emigrated from Germany in the late 18th century.

“Old Jake Beam Sour Mash” was their first iteration of what would eventually be known as Jim Beam, founded by Johannes “Jacob” Beam, a farmer who produced whiskey in the style that would become bourbon. 

So, where does Jim Beam come into play? Like most other spirits businesses, their distillery was forced to stop operations during the Prohibition Period and was picked up by James B. Beam afterward.

The modern Jim Beam in the American market today is named after him. [1

Similarly, Evan Williams was also founded in the late 18th century.

Evan Williams, the founder, was a Welsh immigrant who settled in what would be known as Louisville, Kentucky. He began distilling in 1783 and founded Kentucky’s first commercial distillery on the banks of the Ohio River. 

Read: Is Jim Beam Bourbon or Whiskey?

Production & Distillation Process

Production & Distillation Process

Both brands utilize modern production methods to produce massive batches of bourbon whiskey.

Their main difference is that as a sour mash whiskey, Evan Williams uses the fermented mash from a previous batch to produce the next batch to ensure consistency in flavors. 

As Kentucky straight bourbons, both undergo maturation inside new, charred oak barrels. 

Mash Bills/Mash Ingredients 

Jim Beam is made with a mash bill of 75 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 12 percent malted barley. 

On the other hand, Evan Williams is made with a mash bill of 78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and 10 percent rye. 

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Both brands don’t carry age statements. 

Evan Williams used to carry an age statement of seven years, but it was dropped during the 90s.

Today, it is known that their barrels are aged anywhere from five to seven years before they are blended and bottled at 86 proof. 

The barrels used for Jim Beam are aged for at least four years before being bottled at 80 proof. [2

Ownership & Distillery

Jim Beam is owned by Beam Suntory, the world’s third largest spirits producer, and distilled at their location in Clermont, Kentucky.

It used to be under its own label, but in 2014, Japanese spirits company Suntory Holdings acquired Beam Inc. and became Beam Suntory. 

Evan Williams Bourbon is under Heaven Hill, an international spirits producer, and distilled at the Heaven Hill Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Tasting Notes:

Tasting Notes:

Jim Beam 

  • Palate: It has traditional notes, like caramel, vanilla spice, and toasty oak. The spirit has a light body and doesn’t have an alcoholic burn. 
  • Nose: This American whiskey isn’t the most popular for having a complex nose — on the contrary, its aroma seems watered down. You can expect hints of baking spices, citrus zest, and vanilla notes. 
  • Color: It has a light body with a mahogany hue. 
  • Finish: Jim Beam has a long, elegant finish. It has vanilla, malted barley, oak, and hints of black pepper. 

Evan Williams

Evan Williams

  • Nose: Evan Williams has pleasant dark aromas of butterscotch, toasty oak, and dark caramel that’ll get your lips excited for the first sip. 
  • Palate: Its higher proof contributes to a more robust palate with vanilla coke, oak, citrus zest, and peppery spice notes. 
  • Color: This medium-bodied spirit has a dark russet color. 
  • Finish: It has a surprisingly short finish, with rye and corn notes.

Bourbon Selection Complexity 

Bourbon Selection Complexity 

Both labels have a wide bourbon selection. Apart from their flagship bottles, they carry single barrels, bottled in bonds, small batches, and aged bourbons. 

Jim Beam is characterized for its sublime smoothness. It boasts of being an uncomplicated bottle, whether drunk neat or in a cocktail recipe. 

On the other hand, Evan Williams is noticeably darker and more robust due to its use of older barrels. 

Jim Beam & Evan Williams Common Prices

Bourbon Size Alcohol Proof Average Price
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750ml 80 Around $15
Evan Williams Bourbon 750ml 86 Around $18

*Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.

FAQs

Which is easier to drink neat, Jim Beam or Evan Williams?

We find that Jim Beam is a lot easier to drink neat than Evan Williams. Evan Williams has bolder notes, which might not appeal to beginner palates.

We also find that Jim Beam is the better choice if you’re looking for a good bourbon for a cocktail creation, as its watered-down notes won’t overpower the mixers you choose to use. 

Which is sweeter, Jim Beam or Evan Williams?

We find Evan Williams sweeter than Jim Beam. Evan Williams has pleasant vanilla and caramel flavors anyone with a sweet tooth will surely enjoy.

We also find that Evan Williams tastes darker and richer, unlike Jim Beam, which tends to be slightly watery. 

In Conclusion 

In today’s bourbon face-off, this round goes to… well, it’s a toss-up, really. 

Both Evan Williams and Jim Beam are at the top of the budget bourbon whiskey game for good reason — it’s because they are extremely accessible and will live up to your expectations and preferred drinking style.

Both are great entry whiskeys with friendly flavor profiles, especially if you’re a beginner looking to get your footing in the spirit. They are also inexpensive to boot, making them a good deal. 

Having said that, they’re not the ultimate best, especially in the face of well-aged quality whiskey.

But what’s great about both brands is that they’re not trying to be something they’re not — they just want to be great bottles that taste good, no questions asked. 

References: 

  1. https://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties/prohibition 
  2. https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/news/2017/07/why-alcohol-content-is-measured-in-proof 

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