Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Heaven Hill. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
I love barrel proof whiskey. When given the opportunity to test drive this new release from Heaven Hill of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, I was pretty excited. Heaven Hill is one of the larger producers of whiskeys, with other notable brands being Henry Mckenna, Rittenhouse, Larceny, Old Fitzgerald and, of course, the Parker’s Heritage series. Family owned and operated, you will find Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, along with their Bourbon Heritage Center, bottling facility, and most of their warehouses.
Heaven Hill releases multiple batches per year of Barrel Proof. This particular iteration is A119, and it is bottled at a mouth watering 135.2 proof. The distillery follows rather interesting coding system in how they label these bottlings. The first letter of the batch number indicates which of that year’s releases the bottle was a part of starting with “A”, while the second digit is a number that determines the month of the year the bottle was released. The third and fourth digits indicate the year.
Barrel strength bourbons have become a growing and popular element in the world of bourbons. Not cut with any water, you know that you are going to experience the whiskey as you would straight from the barrel itself. That said, you get a whole lot more flavor from the get-go. One of the most famous go-tos for high proof is George T. Stagg, now with more competition in the likes of Booker’s, William Larue Weller and Four Roses. Bourbons such as these are often coveted by enthusiasts, due to notoriety and bang for your buck.
Appearance: Dark Amber, similar to maple syrup, the good stuff.
Nose: Caramel, toasted oak, boozy.
Palate: Big baking spice up front, followed by notes of caramel/vanilla. The finish lingers on the palate, showcasing all of the flavors.
As far as barrel strength bourbons go, this one is a gem. All of the classic bourbon flavors one tends to look for, amplified by high proof. If you're reading this, I would guess that you are already a fan. But if you are not familiar with this one, please do give it a try. On its own it doesn't taste like barrel proof, especially with those 12 years of aging to help mellow out the spirit. Personally, one ice cube tends to do the trick nicely!