Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (B520)

Recently, Heaven Hill released their latest batch of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (ECBP). Batch B520 is the second batch of 2020, and I’ve got to say it’s a bruiser of a whiskey. Bottled at 63.6% abv, 12-year-old ECBP B520 is running on all cylinders. I’ve stated before that Heaven Hill does a masterful job of keeping the quality high for each batch.

Notes of dark chocolate, cherries, sweet oak, and slightly burnt caramel hint at the whiskey’s advanced age. Dark caramel and some spice kick things off on the palate. Spice cake meet tobacco leaf on the mid-palate with vanilla bean and some ripe red fruit, while mild oak tannins add a touch of astringency. The slightly hot finish is long, which is expected.

The more I taste Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, the more I think it’s a great value (approximately $60) to the consumer looking for not only a high proof offering, but an older one at that. Elijah Craig’s always leaned to a slightly oak-forward flavor profile (like Beam’s Knob Creek), but it has managed to keep a beautiful balance from batch to batch. That’s what you call quality distilling, aging, and blending. Highly recommended.

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

Review: Ardbeg Wee Beastie

The modern Ardbeg 10-year-old expression has been the standard for all other releases from the distillery. It might just be the most perfect expression of Ardbeg’s distillery profile. Uigeadail, Corryvreckan, An Oa, and the venerable 10-year-old are now joined by Wee Beastie as part of Ardbeg’s core range.

Wee Beastie is a 5-year-old whisky matured in ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. Bottled at 47.4% abv, Wee Beastie might be young, but it’s definitely a bit feisty.

Upon pouring it into a Glencairn glass, that big brooding Ardbeg character wifts into the air. Ardbeg’s painting with broad strokes here. Big notes of citrus peel, freshly ground peppercorns, smoke, SMOKE, and seaweed dominate. The initially sweet, weighty palate quickly turns savory, showcasing hints of tar and smoked salmon. Herbs and dark roasted coffee beans add some complexity. The finish is long, with lingering notes of Mexican hot chocolate, campfire smoke, and lemon peel.

Wee Beastie is an interesting whisky. It balances the vibrancy of a young whisky with the cohesiveness of flavors its older 10-year-old sibling is known for. Ardbeg Distillery Manager Mickey Heads said Wee Beastie is “as close to the still as possible.” Of all of Ardbeg’s recent releases, that’s definitely true. A monster of a dram indeed. Recommended!

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

Review: Fistful of Bourbon

William Grant & Sons, the family owned company best known in the whisky world for its acclaimed Glenfiddich and Balvenie brands, has introduced its first bourbon to market – Fistful of Bourbon. The 90 proof bourbon is blended by William Grant & Sons’ Master Blender Brian Kinsman and blender Kelsey McKechnie.

Using their 100+ years of blending experience, William Grant & Sons have launched an affordable (SRP $24.99) straight bourbon. They’re keeping a tight lip on where the bourbon is being sourced, but most likely it comes from several distilleries in different states as there is no state of distillation on the label. Although we know they only used straight bourbon that was aged at least 2 years for this blend.

Lots of pressure to deliver a great first bourbon release. How’d they do?

Pretty good, in fact.

The nose carries hints of toffee, spice, ripe red fruit, and fresh herbs. The palate follows closely with hints of buttered toffee candy, cinnamon apples, and a touch of oak tannin. The medium finish carries that caramel-like sweetness and richness and infuses it with anise.

Like I said – not too shabby. The $25 bourbon is well-rounded in aroma and flavor, hitting most points of the flavor wheel. Sure you can make out individual notes, but they work in harmony. Kudos for making this a 90 proofer instead of an 80 proof whisky. The extra proof makes adds to the body of the whisky.

All in all, Fistful of Bourbon is a fantastic new hit from well-established whisky makers. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Thanks to William Grant & Sons for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.