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. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof has been released three times a year since 2013. Each release varies in proof from 120 to 140. On each bottle is an A, B, or C to indicate which release it was in the year. After the letter comes a number. This is the month, and the last two numbers in the batch number are the year. That means this bottling, batch A121, is the first release of 2021, and came out in January.
When tasting a barrel proof bourbon you are tasting it as the master distiller would taste it. It’s uncut with water and without chill filtration. The proof varies by batch since a new selection of barrels is used every time.
A barrel proof bourbon is usually bold and showcases the charred oak flavors more than a bourbon cut with water. It’s always suggested to try your whiskey at room temperature neat, just to sample the flavors. Then, add a drop or more of water if you’d like a more mellow experience. The more water you add, the more mellow the experience. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “bourbon and branch.” This is a nod to the southern tradition of adding water to a whiskey. The water, or “branches” of water that feed the whiskey in the first place are ideal, preferably as close to the source as possible.
Heaven Hill is the maker of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and many other names you’ve probably heard of. The Elijah Craig brand currently has five different whiskies in the lineup. If Elijah Craig Barrel Proof isn’t your thing, then perhaps you would like another. Or, conversely, if you like it then there are more options to try on your next stop at the liquor store.
Vital Stats: 123.6 proof. Bottled at cask strength without chill filtration. 12 years old. Distilled and bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky. $79.
Appearance: Burnished copper. Very fast moving legs.
Nose: Light, with crisp apple, apricot, caramel, grass, and hot honey. It has a sweet yet hot nose, and a lot of acidity.
Palate: Cinnamon, orange, cardamom, hay, leather, and honey with a little pepper, oak and brown sugar. Adding a touch of water also brought out more herbal notes like mint and eucalyptus. It sounds weird but it’s like a creme brûlée with eucalyptus.
I felt the taste of this bourbon was better than the nose. It’s a slow sipping whiskey that melts across your tongue like a warm hug and leaves your tongue tingly. A little water opened this up in a big way. It’s pleasant with and without water, but almost too strong for a full pour without water. The finish is very smooth.
User Review3.36 (44 votes)
Melissa D. Jones is a traveler, blogger, photographer, storyteller, foodie, whiskey lover and creative entrepreneur. Living for adventure and new experiences she's photographed her way around all 50 states and 47 countries (still counting!) and wrote her travel knowledge into a book. When she's not traveling you can find her...