Whiskey Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C919

By John Dover / December 5, 2019

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.

For this review I was presented with Elijah Craig’s Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. A distinguishing characteristic of the small batch, barrel proof bourbons is the high proof and that they are bottled straight from the barrel. With many bourbons and other liquors, filtering processes or occasionally blending different batches goes into the distilling to smooth out their rough edges. With so much care going into the craft and aging, any rough edges have been honed into character that make this bourbon shine.

There is a heat that is invigorating when taken straight and takes on a comforting quality when diluted with ice or water. The mature flavors need no masking, leaving the taster a delightful array of characteristic notes that complement each other.

As is the case with any Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, in this case batch c919, this is a whiskey that needs to be respected when you consume it. Clocking in at 136.8 proof, it is the highest for this bottling in the last few years. It should be noted as well that “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.”

Elijah Craig Barrel Strength (Batch A119)

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (image via Heaven Hill)

Tasting Notes: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C919

Vital Statistics: The proof level of the batches of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bottlings vary. I sampled batch C919, released in September of 2019. Aged for 12 years, this batch clocked in at 136.8 proof. It ranges from around $60-$90 in price.

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Nose: Maple syrup, vanilla, and caramel round out the flavors that hit my nose. As stated above, be careful not to sniff to enthusiastically. It is a pleasant, but sharp nose.

Palate: My first pass, poured neat, woke me up with its surprising heat. The high proof point of this bourbon lends itself to a bit more heat, so buyer beware. In its rawest form, this whiskey delivers sharp heat with a citrus and maple infused flavor spectrum. It is similar to drinking a chili infused crème brulé topping. There were also the distinctive flavors pulled from the oak as well as the softer, subtle whisper of roasted stone fruits such as cherry and even a bit of prune.

Next, I moved forward with a bit of dilution. The distiller themselves recommend the inclusion of water to soften and aid in bringing out further flavors. I opted for a nice big cube of ice. After a few swirls the chill and the initial release of water sanded down the sharpness and I was able to focus on something other than the heat.

The oak shone forth and the warmth was dialed down bringing forward a lovely butterscotch with hints of fall spices and a twang of black pepper. As the cube melted and mingled with the bourbon, an apple essence joined the party.

The Takeaway


Stimulating the palate and the mind, Elijah Craig has crafted a spicy sipper that will awaken the drinker to the punchier side of the bourbon spectrum with its Barrel Proof distilling. Go in prepared and you will be rewarded with a refined drinking experience lodged firmly in the traditions that make bourbon the drink of choice for so many.

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