In 2013 Heaven Hill introduced Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, an allocated cask strength bourbon that varies in proof by batch and is released three times per year: January, May, and September. Up until 2023, bourbons used in each batch were a minimum of 12 years old. In mid-2023, Heaven Hill announced that they would be removing the standard age statement, and future batches would include an age statement that would vary per release and no longer require a 12 year minimum.
The first release following this announcement introduced exactly what fans feared: an 11 year, 5 month age statement, chopping 7 months off the brand’s previous 12 year minimum age. Some expressed concerns for what was to come…would this be the beginning of a slide in age (and possibly quality) for this decade old fan-favorite brand? Others felt hopeful. After all, the quality of the release was on par with many before it. It even showcased some qualities not typical of the brand; a new creative direction, maybe?
Then 2023’s third and final Elijah Craig Barrel Proof was announced. Batch C923. “C” represents the third batch release of the year, “9” represents the month of September, and “23” represents the year. It carries the highest age statement ever for the brand, a fact that was hinted at earlier, clocking in at a whopping 13 years, 7 months.
But as any experienced whiskey drinker knows, higher age does not necessarily mean higher quality. Nevertheless, a $70 for a 13+ year barrel proof Elijah Craig from Heaven Hill sent waves of FOMO throughout the whiskey space. But fans knew the real test was still to come.
That real test, of course, is how it tastes. Maybe a bit serendipitous, but for a moment, all of Elijah Craig’s age statement woes from over the years were forgotten. Batch C923 hit everything right. The whiskey is love at first whiff as a mix of fruit, thick heavy caramel, and charred oak combine to near-flawless effect. Flavors of dark red raspberry, black cherry, sweet barrel char, pungent spice, brown sugar, molasses, and even hints of hazelnut and coffee bean fold into the mix as the sip progresses towards its coda. It’s a deliberate whiskey, managing to maintain its no-nonsense straightforward nature while still offering abundant complexity. At 133 proof, it’s bold, but its big flavor eclipses any harshness you might get at this proof. Simply put, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C923 is an amazing bourbon.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C923 isn’t just a remarkable bourbon, it’s a reminder of what Heaven Hill is capable of. It harkens back to days past when even the highest quality bourbon was more readily attainable, and reminds us that is still true today. A return to the form of some of the initial batches released in the brand’s earlier years, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C923 delivers on America’s unspoken promise to not only create exceptional bourbon, but just as importantly to make it accessible and affordable.