Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
One of the hottest new bourbons of the year is Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. This is a barrel proof version of the popular Elijah Craig 12 year old that was released earlier this year, but has been nearly impossible to find. This stuff came and went in a blink of an eye. I'm told that the allocations are less than those for Pappy Van Winkle, so it will be tough to track down. The suggested retail price is $40, but I don't know if that's what it's actually been going for.
So far, there have been two releases, the first came out at 134.2 proof (67.1% abv) and a second issued at 137 proof (68.5% abv). I sampled both of them below.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (first release), 12 years old, 67.1% abv
This has a huge, wonderful aroma of polished wood. The palate is candy-sweet with some nice pine and oak notes. The finish is rich and sweet. Water brings out caramel on the nose and some tobacco and spice on the palate.
It's been a long time since a new bourbon release really blew me away, but this one did. It's got huge wood notes balanced with candy sweetness, and with water, complex, spicy notes emerge. Tasting blind, I would have guessed that this was far older than its 12 years. A big win for Heaven Hill.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (second release), 12 yo, 68.5% abv
The nose on this release is more medicinal than the first. The palate is woody, piney, with some acidic notes. The finish leaves a lot of candy on the nose. This one also does well with water; in fact, it needs water more than the first release. Water again brings some spice, but also some candy corn sweetness that settles in for the finish.
This is very good but doesn't quite reach the heights of the first release. I would recommend both of these, particularly if they are anywhere near the suggested retail price, but if you have a choice, go for the initial 134.2 proof release.