Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof – Batch 11 – 69.7%
Context: Pre-fire Heaven Hill and National Distillers Old Grand-Dad are two of my all-time favorite profiles. I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a touch of some really old pre-fire in these first 12 batches. The pre-fire profile for me is always full of walnut and oil and eucalyptus. Most importantly, the oak rarely slips into varnish or chemical territory. My 2015 hierarchy of bourbon was George T. Stagg, Four Roses SmB LE, William Larue Weller, and this Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. Out of all those, this is the only one I could get my hands on.
The first time taking notes was on April 13th, 2017.
Those notes are in italics. Above those will be the current tasting.
Nose: I know bourbon is not supposed to be smoky, but there's some serious char hanging out here. Maple syrup. Brown sugar. Quality oak - almost some pine back there. Dates. Vanilla. Walnuts. Natural oils. Eucalyptus. Plenty of going on if you're patient and adjust to the near-hazmat proof.
Deep and sweet. Molasses and burnt sugars. Soft spice and wood presence. This is what I hope for when I pour one of these.
Flavor: Salted caramel. Dried sumac berries. Sarsaparilla. Peanut brittle. Walnut. Oak. Finish gets really oak-y and dry with black tea but fortunately still drips in some burnt sugars.
Spicy and sweet. Love the combo. Caramel. Apples. Hot peppers and cola spice. Then the oak and sweet barrel char takes back over.
Palate Structure: Digs sweet before ever expanding waves of oak and spice and baking/candied notes. It's massive and loud. Will totally bend your palate to its will.
Great interplay of sweet and spice. Excellent mouthfeel and finish.
Alcohol Integration: I mean the ABV is on the upper-upper end and there's no mistaking this for a mellow sipper. But it doesn't drop flavor or require water which is a testament to how it manages its proof.
Mid-palate flirts with being “hot” and pushes the heat about as far as I’d like to remain very enjoyable.
You’d Dig This If You Like:
Rum: tropics aged, cask strength, no added sugar
Bourbon: 12+ year, 120+ proof
Score: 9 (Stash Two) I haven't tried the first 4 batches of ECBP, but this was my favorite of the old labels. This batch in particular made me content not getting any 2015 George T. Stagg. After drinking a wider variety of spirits, this isn't as sweet or as spicy as I original thought. But it's certainly as dynamic and intense. The complexity and character is off the charters. Best part is all that oak and none of it slips into one dimensional varnish.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour