Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (2014)
My only complaint is that Heaven Hill only releases this occasionally. If this were more readily available, it would be my go-to.
What it is:
Very simply, it’s good ole’ Elijah Craig 12 year old small batch bourbon bottled at the proof it was meant to be bottled at: barrel proof. That’s not to say standard Elijah Craig is lacking in flavor, it’s actually a very good bourbon, and one we reviewed very favorably. But give me a good bourbon strong as the day it was born, without being overly filtered or watered down to proof, and you’ve made me a very happy man. This retails for much lower than I paid. The MSRP is closer to $60 than what I paid at the gift shop, but that’s the cost of buying from the source, I suppose.
So during the recent Modern Thirst Brain Trust Meeting, Matt and I sat down to do a joint review of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. This one has been in the works for a while, and it has been requested by several readers in the comments sections of other reviews and posts. But I’ve been waiting for a good weekend to crack open a bottle of it when Matt can be around to share it. So let’s get to it.
Just like standard Elijah Craig, the bottle is a slightly oval-shaped cordial-ish bottle with an oversize mouth and large natural cork and stopper. The label on this one, however, is dark brown. It’s very attractive.
Deep, dark, luscious brown. This bourbon screams of wood and proof.
Matt: Caramel, Icing, Maple. It almost “smells” deep.
Bill: Caramel, Apple, Coffee Cake, Prunes and Gingerbread. Maple icing and brown sugar with a hint of cocoa.
Matt: Quick caramel on the tip of the tongue gives way to a blast of alcohol heat. This one starts sweet and heats up right away.
Bill: Gingerbread cookie hits the mouth right away with notes of burnt caramel and maple syrup. The heat definitely follows that, overlaid with toasted oak and heavy wood.
Matt: That heat continues, but a sweet spice like cloves permeates the mouth throughout.
Bill: A super long finish, this one just goes on and on. Loads of cinnamon, clove, spices coat the mouth, but this one won’t let you forget that it’s nearly rocket fuel in proof. At the very end, black pepper and a little tingle rounds out the finish.
We were both pretty impressed with this bourbon. It’s almost certainly too strong for most to drink straight. We did try it with some distilled water, and that works very well to tame the heat, but it does kill a little of the spiciness. It brings out a little ripe banana on the tongue as well. Overall, this would do best with a nice splash of water, unless you’re like me and enjoy punishing your taste buds and wringing every morsel of flavor out of every sip. Even then, if I’m drinking this for leisure instead of a review, I’m adding a cube of ice or some water. It’s a big, bold, woody bourbon. My only complaint is that Heaven Hill only releases this occasionally. If this were more readily available, it would be my go-to.
ModernThirst.com score: 91 out of 100 points