Elijah Craig Barrel Proof launches some of the most consistently good and easiest to find allocated bottles in the bourbon realm. There is really no greater value than $60 for a 12 year age stated, barrel proof Kentucky bourbon.
Lovers of these batches find all of their favorite bourbon notes with the smallest bit of deviation between the batches. To pick a favorite batch out of the lineup is to really have a fine-tuned nose and palate because these tend to heavily favor tannins, caramels, chocolates and nuts.
I decided to take one of the more loved batches of the new bottle design, B518, and compare it against a bottle of B519. These were bottled a year apart from each other and the B519 carries the lowest proof point of any Elijah Craig Barrel Proof’s since the label was first created.
To keep things fair, I sampled them semi-blind to try and make this comparison all about finding the best flavor and scents and deciding a winner. These were both sampled neat and in a glencairn.
Blind Glass #1
Nose: Malted chocolate balls, nougat, caramel vanilla latte, musty oak, raisins, roasted peanuts
Palate: Cherry cordials, toffee, white pepper heat, Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate cookies, fig bars, charred oak and dark chewy caramel.
Finish: Semi-sweet chocolate chips, toffee, cinnamon tea, slightly drying oak, stewed stone fruits, a little bit of pipe tobacco.
Blind Glass #2
Nose: Chocolate Chip muffins, salted peanuts and sweet hazelnuts, cinnamon, caramel fudge and… like a scent of holiday fruitcake?
Palate: Definitely less heat than Glass #1, Portillo’s Chocolate Cake, candy corn, thick brown sugar, Ferrero Rocher Hazlenut Truffles and a little bit of Hawaiian Punch
Finish: Nutty Banana Bread, dark brown sugar, dark chocolate bar, toasted orange peel, black pepper specks, sweet tobacco leaf, mild oak
Glass #1: ECBP B518
Glass #2: ECBP B519
Winner: ECBP B518!
The B518 has always been a great batch and I’m not terribly surprised to see it win this comparison. But the B519 is no slouch either.
A lot of my friends were turned off from the low barrel proof alcohol content, but I eagerly bought my bottle knowing that most times, a lower proof point would make the tasting experience easier to peel back the layers without fighting the heat.
ECBP’s generally have their heat under control anyway thanks to the 12 years that they were in the barrel and B519 definitely took the cake.
But B518 won me over due to a more complex flavors and that extra bit of “oomph” that put it above B519. Still, if you can find either of these, they’re both a fantastic buy for the price and easily one of the best values in bourbon.
One final note that I love to recommend to friends: a favorite treat of mine is to blend equal parts of ECBP and Jack Daniels Barrel Proof together to get a chocolate covered banana or chocolate chip banana bread taste. I think it’s worth your time to sacrifice a few ounces and try this out.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary
6 | Very Good | Better than average
7 | Great | Well above average
8 | Excellent | Exceptional
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close
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