Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (ECBP), one of Heaven Hill’s best kept secrets, is not so secret anymore. Okay, so it was never much of a secret. Whiskey enthusiasts and collectors seem to really enjoy ECBP. Released in a couple of small batches every year, ECBP is a full-strength, non-chill filtered version of Elijah Craig 12 year old. This batch, from 2014, is 132.4 proof. Every batch’s proof is slightly different. Like most limited edition bourbons these days, this monster of a whiskey disappears soon after it hits the shelves.
This one is packed with great aromas. I get concentrated caramel, oak, raisin and vanilla. There isn’t as much alcohol vapor upfront as I figured there would be. However, the proof shows its face upon entry. There’s a tingling burn you’d expect in a 132 proof bourbon. Then there is a blast of vanilla, oak, burnt toffee and brown sugar. I tasted some cinnamon and dark chocolate after the initial wave of flavor. ECBP has a bit of an oily mouthfeel. The medium-length finish is sweet (toffee), then becomes a bit dry. Adding a few drops of water brings out more of the oak, but spreads the flavors out just a little.
I’m becoming more and more a fan of barrel proof bourbon. It’s the closest most of us will come to drinking whiskey straight out of the barrel. So far, I haven’t had a bad barrel proof bourbon, and Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is no different. It packs a punch and is full of flavor, but isn’t too rough around the edges. A bottle of ECBP should run about $50. I’ve seen several bottles on shelves around the New Orleans area, so it’s not as hard to find as other limited releases. Highly recommended.