View Full Version : Evan Williams and The Charcoal Filter

05-29-2005, 14:58
Back in the '90s, when there was the first big Evan Williams 7 year old push in California of which I know, I could have sworn its hook was the...similarities... in bottle, black label, and lettering styles to a certain Tennessee whiskey. But the kicker, according to my often faulty memory, was that the marketing shouted to the rafters that it was charcoal filtered, mellowed, or whatever.

Years go by, and I don't see any mention of charcoal filtering, and Evan Williams Black Label has become the value leader in its class. I conclude I must have just been mistaken. Especially since I seem to remember reading on this forum that it is precisely the extra ingredients (ie essence of charcoal) added in the Lincoln County Process that disqualifies the 2 Tennessee whiskies from being labeled as bourbon.

But I just saw a photo of an EW 12 year (meant for the Japanese market, I believe) that conspicuously proclaims "Every ounce charcoal filtered" and "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey."

Can anyone shed light on what is/was the relationship of EW and The Charcoal Filter?


05-29-2005, 16:33
The green-label Jim Beam Choice (now 5yo, once 8yo) also still carries the "Charcoal Filtered" reference. And, just as the relationship between the labels of EW 7yo and Jack Daniel's Black is casually reminiscent, so is the JB green and the JD green. I doubt if either was coincidence, at least not originally.

05-29-2005, 16:53
I believe (and please correct me if I'm way off) the diffence is between "activated charcoal" and the "sugar-maple charcoal" used in the Lincoln County Process.

Activated charcoal is nearly pure carbon, created by heating wood to something like 5000 degrees in an oxygen rich environment. Many if not most bourbon is filtered through this to prevent "chill haze" (a purely cosmetic effect). Bookers & Stagg are a couple of the rare unfiltered bourbons. Activated charcoal is also common in water filters (like the Brita I have on my kitchen faucet).

The sugar-maple charcoal used by JD is more like the charcoal used on your barbeque (just not with additives like Kingsford has to make the coals white...). The wood was only heated to a few hundred degrees for this charcoal, leaving some minerals in with the carbon. The white dog is slooooooooooowly filtered through 10-foot tall containers of this stuff to give the whiskey its "sooty" taste. JDs website said it takes 10 days for the whiskey to work its way through.

There's probably more stuff that a chemistry expert could tell you, but this is my basic understanding. YMMV


05-29-2005, 17:13
The green-label Jim Beam Choice

so is the JB green and the JD green

The resemblance would cause anyone to make that assumption, however I saw a thing at the Getz that may rule that out. There was a 'Carls Choice" and I'm given to think it started out all well and fine on it's own, without the tip of the hat to JD Green. David Beam is probably one of the few people left who would know. Also when one takes Cowdery's observation that no brand has been fiddled with more than Jim Beam Black, one starts thinking in terms of happy coincidences rather than a grand scheme. I do think the Charcoal Filter was on the Carls Choice Label.

05-29-2005, 17:13
Good Job Matt http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif You are correct http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I have a bottle of a current bottle of Evan Williams, Black year, 1.75...printed on the side...Charcoal Filtered http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Another example, that could further Charcoal filtered definition? The barrels being dumped...Look in those troughs after a lineup of just emptied barrels. The troughs are full of charcoal from inside the barrels. Massive amounts fill those troughs and they are not emptied until the end of the day. Bourbon being filtered thru charcoal all the time...

Bettye Jo

05-29-2005, 17:43
Filtering through charcoal to filter out ... charcoal. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif


05-29-2005, 21:15
Filtering through charcoal to filter out ... charcoal.

Nahhhhhhhh...it's more like charcoal filtered, thru charcoal and thur a activated charcoal filter...and then thru a filter before it gets to the processing tank...and then chill filtered...and then filtered before the bottling tank and then filtered to the "sock filter" before you get to the holding tank on the filler and then filtered before ya get to the manifold in the filler...

Ya know, filtered http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif...

05-30-2005, 04:20
I guess the process is continuous until final packaging, and except for Booker's and Blanton Barrel Strength and one or two others no doubt all bourbons go through this process. I think the reason is to avoid the flock problem (cloudiness at colder temperatures) but also to ensure consumers see no sediment of any kind. I think too the charcoal filtering was used as a marketing tool, maybe more in the 1950's and 60's when many brands advertised charcoal filtering. Personally I feel a light or no filtering is best, just as keeping to a higher proof seems to ensure a richer taste. But the market has certain requirements and I understand that. Also, as has been said before on the board, the activated charcoal filtering is quite different to the Tennessee method of draining whiskey through a stack of burned maple wood, that is a more fundamental way to treat whiskey and was an early rectification technique. Activated charcoal and the other processing filtrations are more a final polishing, a "detailing", to borrow a term from the car industry.


05-30-2005, 09:10
The label on the green Beam's Choice goes as far to state, "The distinctive flavor and mellow character are a result of Jim Beam's exclusive charcoal filtering after aging."

"CHARCOAL FILTERED" also appears on Beam's Black Label 8 yr.