Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon needs no introduction. Always bottled at 12 years old (at minimum) and barrel proof, the typical sweet dessert style of bourbon that regular small batch Elijah Craig bourbon is, it only amplifies the flavor as well as combines a healthy dose of tannins due to its age.
Batch A119 is the label designation that means that this was batched and bottled in January of 2019. Coming in at 135.2 proof, let’s see how this monster fares. I sampled it neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: Deep, rich caramel. In fact, the caramel doesn’t just stand alone because I’m finding chocolate and peanuts on the nose as well for the perfect Snickers Candy Bar scent. There’s also a touch of fruit with some stewed cherries. Oak is out in a big way as well, with a touch of musty funk.
Palate: The Snicker’s bar on the nose has transformed into a PayDay candy Bar with rich caramel and peanuts. There’s plenty of soft cinnamon spice and the cherries have turned more tart than sweet. The chocolate is strangely absent from the palate, but the oak remains and is pleasant and not bitter at all.
The mouthfeel seems somewhat thinner than normal, but this could be because of the higher proof than ECBP has been batched at in the past 2 years.
Finish: The oak becomes more powerful after each sip is done and leather tannins also come in to coat your tongue.
These two notes really dominate the finish that sees not as much sweetness as the nose and palate had. There is some caramel, but it tastes like it was left on the burner a little bit too long. But the heat is subdued a bit with a nice menthol cooling effect at the end.
Heaven Hill probably saw the proof continue to rise as they dumped each barrel and were very excited it got this high. We normally think of ECBP as high proof anyway, but I think that the higher the proof goes, the more it thins out.
There is still lots of flavor, but I couldn’t help but think that if the proof was a tad bit lower, that mouthfeel would improve and perhaps more sweetness would carry over on the finish.
This is all speculation of course, and I would never kick this bottle out of bed, but here’s to hoping that a little more air time will only increase the flavor spectrum of this otherwise great dram.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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