One of the best Elijah Craig releases I have ever had – and that is saying a lot ! HIGHLY RECCOMEND ! It may not be the best whiskey I have had this year but it is certainly up there and the price to value ratio compared to everything else out there is astounding.
Notes: In order to spare our regular readers from the same lead-in, please refer to our earlier reviews of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof reviews ( especially the ones just prior to this) for discussions and hyperlinks to all the other Elijah Craig and Heaven Hill products we have reviewed and the company background. There is a lot!
This is the latest release of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof series. It is also the third and final edition for this year (2023), and this is the eleventh year of this series. There has been a great deal of controversy over the age statements and lack thereof recently. This has since been cleared up as Heaven Hill has reversed itself and is now stating the ages again ( in this case, 13 years and seven months). Please note that this number is the youngest barrel in the blend, and the ages and proportions change to meet the profile they are blending in each release.
Appearance: Clear, Dark Gold with a red shift to it, showing off a well-aged and mature bourbon. Bourbon usually goes from yellow gold to Amber to finally reddish as it ages, and it is a rare thing to see one this color these days, and even rarer for it to be affordable to mere mortals. Very even and light coat on the glass when swirling with almost no legs forming, it slowly glides back down on itself into the glass again. A very integrated bourbon. Rarely do you see something like that.
First Impression: Wonderful deep scents of oak barrel, Virginia and Turkish tobacco, saddle leather, pecans, clover honey, corn, marzipan ( or gelignite), almonds, figs, dates, and barley. It is very harmonious and rich as a chocolate cake. I’d proudly wear this as a cologne. Very well integrated with the high proof only hinted at in the background.
Taste: Subtle and delicious, sweetish touch on initial entry with a grain oiliness to it and then a rapidly ( but not unpleasantly ) drying on the tongue with all the oak, grain, and dried fruit flavors in a well-coordinated low of taste till it leaves you with a long fade of cereal grains and just a touch of sweetness Seductively smooth and Oh so lovely.
Drinks: A little water opens the whiskey up beautifully, almost like shedding its clothes to reveal the existence of God and beauty. Use some warm ( but not hot) filtered or decent, slightly minerally water if you can, and use a Riedel, Glencairn, NEAT or similar worthy tasting glass. Makes beautiful classic whiskey cocktails – any that call for either bourbon or rye. We tried a number of them, and they were all outstanding. You may or may not want to adjust slightly for proof, but you really don’t need to from a flavor and subtlety standpoint- it is that seductively smooth. Just be careful about overall consumption as you may not care, but significant others, friends, and certainly law enforcement may feel differently.
Bottle: Elongated Horseshoe-shaped flask-type bottle somewhat taller and leaner looking than the older versions of Elijah Craig. The helpful notation below BARREL PROOF notation on the label “UNCUT, STRAIGHT FROM THE BARREL WITHOUT CHILL FILTRATION.”
Other: Pairs nicely with a Fuente Hemingway Series, Maduro wrapper. Would suggest a short story, at least a longer one if you have the endurance for both the alcohol and the tobacco, up to a a Hemingway Untold Story Maduro – but make sure you have the time and maybe a wingman if you are going that deep.
Past Releases: This Year (2023) B523 (11 Years,5 Months). Last Year (2022) The last release before this was the Elijah Craig Batch 922 at 124.8. The one prior to this was the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B522 at 121 proof. Prior to that, this year was the first release of 2022, Batch A122 weighing in at 120.8 (60.4 %). The earlier versions we reviewed in more or less chronological order are the Barrel Proof Versions at 124.2 released in January of 2017, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof 127 Proof Lot B517 in May of 2017, and another further release, Batch No. C917 in September 2017, 131.4 Proof Batch C918 in September 2018, 135.2 Proof Batch A119 in January of 2019, 127.2 Proof Batch No.B520, Batch No. A120 136.6 Proof Version was released in early 2020, and the 132.8 Proof C 920 was Released in September 2020. The next bottle and first bottle for 2021 was the A121 at 123.6 proof. The following bottles of 2021 were batch B521, which represented the second release for 2021, released in May and came in at 118.2 proof, and the third and last release of 2021 was Batch C921 of September 0f 2021 at 120.2 proof.
The range of proof from high to low is 136.6 proof (68.3 %) to 118.2 proof (59.1),
For an explanation of Barrel Proof, please look in our classification section. The Barrel Proof series is the latest and follows on from other previous premium releases of 20-Year-Old, the 21-Year-Old, and 23-Year-Old Elijah Craig versions. This barrel-proof series has between 3 and 4 releases a year at different proofs due to the variations of the batches. The Elijah Craig Barrel Proof series will also vary in color and taste within a certain (company and brand profile) degree so that each one will be different up to that point. Barrels falling outside that profile will probably end up in larger blends or, in extreme cases, sold off to be used somewhere else under a different name.
The Batch letter is the code for which release it is for the year (A, B, C, and D are batches 1,2,3,4 for the year, the First digit is the month (1-January, 5 – May, 9- September), the second two numbers denote the year ( in this case 2022).
Final Thoughts: Easily one of the best buys for the money in recent history for a whiskey in a price-to-value delivered.
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