Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (Batch C917)

The 12-year-old cask-strength powerhouse known as Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is hard to beat. It usually delivers an utterly delicious concentration of classic bourbon aromas and flavors that is almost impossible to pass up at $60 a bottle. The third and last release of 2017, batch C917, is bottled at a respectable 131 proof.

Batch B517 was an outstanding release in what is generally considered a very consistently solid line.

As I previously mentioned, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is the only EC release to carry a 12-year age statement. A couple of years ago, Small Batch’s 12-year age statement was controversially removed.  I’m not an age statement diehard, so the disappearance of that age statement didn’t bug me one bit.  I’m going off on a tangent.  Focus, Bobby.  Focus.

Back to the whiskey at hand.

The nose on Batch C917 features hints of sweet oak, molasses, grilled corn cakes and some spice.  On the palate, big, bold waves of caramels and spice cake almost overwhelm the senses.  Hints of cardamom, vanilla, and dark chocolate pop through mid-palate.  A nice, strong dose of oak, an expected note in the Elijah Craig brand, and leather hit the palate late.  The finish is long and warm, with a bittersweet note reminiscent of caramel-coated dark chocolate lingers.

Heaven Hill has another lively and fantastic bourbon release with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C917.  It does what a great barrel proof whiskey should do – transport you to a Kentucky rickhouse with every sip. I slightly prefer the previous batch B517 over this one.  The differences are minute.  Bad batches of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof simply don’t exist.  Recommended! 8.5/10

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Review: Breckenridge Reserve (New Orleans Bourbon Festival pick)

I can’t believe the New Orleans Bourbon Festival is right around the corner. Last year’s inaugural event proved to be a success. This year the festival’s founders are cranking things up several notches. I’ll have a post on what’s in store for the 2018 outing soon. In the meantime, I wanted to take a look at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival’s selection of Breckenridge Reserve.

Colorado’s Breckenridge Distillery uses a combination of their own distillate alongside high-rye bourbon barrels from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana for their final product. Here’s how the distillery describes their Reserve Blend:

The reserve blend program was created to showcase qualities of our bourbon that discerning connoisseurs can appreciate. It consists of four distinct blends that offer the customer a special invitation to see the beauty of the bourbon aging process and the affects of charring that come out in these expressions. Still soft and luscious, these blends capture a different take on the way bourbon can grow up and present itself at maturity.

The blend was selected by two of the festival’s founders, Barbara and Tracy Napolitano. As of the writing of this post, Dorignac’s Supermarket is the only place you can buy this whiskey at $50 a bottle. I was told it’s coming to select restaurants in the New Orleans area soon.

The nose is a bit aromatic, with lightly toasted rye grain, spice and brown sugar. Some young, sweet corn also makes itself known. The palate is a nice balance of sweet and spicy, with caramel apple, ground cinnamon, corn pudding and a touch of vanilla extract. The finish is spicy, featuring a hint of cinnamon candy and a slight “green” note.

Overall, this particular Breckenridge Reserve has a nice flavor profile. Like I mentioned earlier, I really like the careful balance of sweet and spicy here. The high rye content of the whiskies used really shine through. The caramel apple note was a welcome surprise. A couple of things also stood out. First, the bourbon tastes a little young. Not immature, mind you, but young. There’s probably two year old bourbon in this blend. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth noting. Secondly, I wish the whiskey was bottled at a higher proof. I’m not one of those people who think the only whiskey worth drinking is barrel proof whiskey. I think the 86 proof here leaves a slightly thin mouthfeel. Minor gripes aside, I’ve enjoyed the four or five pours of this bourbon over the last week or so. 7.5/10

Thanks to the New Orleans Bourbon Festival for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Glenmorangie Astar (2017)

Glenmorangie Astar is back on the market after a few years. It is essentially a high proof version of the beautifully delicate Glenmorangie Original. The distillery uses only ex-bourbon casks from specially selected slow-growth, American oak trees from the Ozarks. They are very picky about wood, if you haven’t noticed.

Where Glenmorangie Original carries a ten year age statement, Astar does not. What this whisky lacks in an age statement it than makes up in a fullness of flavor delivered at 52.5% ABV versus Original’s 43% ABV.

The nose features delicate aromas in a slightly robust way, with hints of vanilla bean, light toffee, coconut macaroons, and a sprinkling of nutmeg. The palate is creamy with hints of whipped vanilla creme. Splashes of mild spices, toasted oak, honey and light fruits soon develop. The finish is clean, but warming, driven by spiced vanilla and lightly roasted coffee bean.

This is everything we love about Glenmorangie Original turned up to 10. The higher proof delivers those flavors in a more concentrated way. It doesn’t come across as young, so those with a penchant for dismissing non age statement whiskies should rethink their stance here. Highly recommended! 8.5/10

Thanks to Glenmorangie for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.