Elijah Craig – Barrel Proof – 12 Year Old – Batch No. C918 – Straight Bourbon Whiskey | 65.7% (131.4 Proof)
Color/Appearance: Deep ruby, barrel char tea. This is the look most barrel aged spirits yearn to have, however wrong that is. First bottle with the new design for me. I like the shorter more practical older bottle shape but this is a good bottle with its large flask like style. For some reason it doesn’t say it on the front, but on the side there is a label that mentions that it is twelve years old. Which is nice considering they took the age statement off of the regular strength release.
Palate: Wowzers. A very strong entry. The nose gave no indication of the force of the palate. This works well for me though. A rich and full spectrum of classic bourbon notes. Round. Spicy chocolate caramels. The last sip of a strong cup of tea that has a lot of honey in it. That peanut note from the nose shows up here too, but other nuts join it making it taste, how do you say, nutty. It has this warm comforting mouthfeel and yet its so bold and powerful. Maybe a bit too much heat, but with so many great flavors flooding my mouth it seems like the Kentucky Hug I deserve. Water can loosen the grip and adding a bit very slowly works nicely.
Finish: Bold spices, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper. Deeply cooked sugars. Like an alcohol infused red hot melted into a puddle in your mouth. There is some deep oak here with well seasoned old timbers giving their all. Sometimes Elijah Craig can run a bit too woody, but this batch never seems to cross that line.
Overall: For some reason my notes say, “Duh, It’s Bourbon!” So I guess I will write that here. High proof barrel strength bourbon is like spicy food, it hurts a bit, but once you love it other food tastes bland in comparison. Heaven Hill to me seems to have fewer fruity notes and is more centered on the core bourbon characteristics. Which is one of the many things I appreciate about this particular expression too. It doesn’t step outside the classic bourbon box to try to wow you with strange notes, it just sits right smack in the middle of what a good bourbon should be and I like that. I was drinking some the other day side by side with that Russell’s Reserve I recently reviewed and, though each was different, I could not decide which I liked more. So I guess that means they earn the same score.