Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Elijah Craig Distillery Co. (Heaven Hill)
Distillery: Elijah Craig Distillery Co. (Heaven Hill)
Release Date: January 2023
Age: 12 Years
Mashbill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye
Color: Dark Bronze
MSRP: $70 (2022)
Rich caramel | Sweet charred oak | Cherrywood | Vanilla | Fudge | Mix of light mint & pine | Superb intensity
Thick caramel | Tannic charred oak | Blackberry | Plum | Vanilla
Chili spice | Cinnamon | Tannic oak | Nutmeg | Lingering astringent leather note
Rough around the edges, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon Batch A123 fights against its tannic side with dark fruit and fiery spice.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon Batch A123 kicks off the 11th year for the brand with A123 being its 31st batch. This batch is notable for its proof, as it hits the highest proof the brand has seen since 2020’s 132.8 proof Batch C920. Also worth noting is Heaven Hill increased the MSRP of the bourbon by $10 this year.
The nose kicks off things beautifully with an aroma filled with rich caramel and sweet charred oak against cherrywood and vanilla. These scents come together with pitch perfect intensity and start the sip off in high gear. The palate continues the potent caramel note that’s delivered by a thick mouthfeel. Tannic charred oak quickly becomes known and is undeniable in its assertiveness. This is the start of a tannic note that runs throughout the rest of the sip. At this point, the most unique aspect of the bourbon occurs with blackberry and plum giving the whiskey some much needed diversity. It's this dark fruit sweetness that is the true highlight of the sip, however, it’s fleeting. As the finish starts, a chili spice note develops adding a strong contrast to the palate. The spiciness folds into the finish’s cinnamon and tannic oak components giving way to its lingering nutmeg and astringent leather aftertaste.
As much of a roller coaster ride this first batch of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof sounds, it tastes rather straightforward in application. Heavy caramel and charred oak notes are found throughout with all too fleeting moments of dark fruit. Its tannic note is hard to ignore and is a bit of a shocking inclusion for this brand. It acts as more of an additional layer of character for the bourbon rather than an overpowering flaw. Some who are tannic sensitive will definitely take issue with it, but for others, it's less of a dealbreaker and more of an oddity. The bourbon maintains Heaven Hill’s level of quality, but in the end struggles to match the high level effectiveness recent barrel proof bourbons have hit in the marketplace.