Barrel strength whiskey is something I always look forward to tasting. Even though many are batched together (versus a single barrel release), it’s like tasting straight from the barrel. No dilution is taking place before bottling. The robust quality from these bottlings is something you don’t get from a standard whiskey release.
One of my favorites is Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (ECBP) from Heaven Hill Distillery. This 12-year-old batched bourbon is offered several times a year. Starting with this first batch of 2017, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is introducing batch numbers (sort of like Booker’s has been doing the past couple of years). It was a fantastic idea for Booker’s, and I’m sure ECBP will experience some success from it.
The batch code breaks down like this: The first letter signifies the release batch of the year, while the numbers indicate the month and year of release. So, A117 = the first batch of the year, released in January 2017. The new batch numbering system will make it easier to track down which batch is which.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof batch A117 comes in at 127 proof. While not the strongest batch I’ve seen by any stretch, 127 is still a high proof. Let’s get to the tasting notes.
Dark brown sugar and molasses burst out of the glass, alongside touches of anise, vanilla and oak. On the palate, this oily whiskey features hints of caramel corn, vanilla, tobacco leaf, and oak spices. A splash of water brings out more oak. The long finish warms the chest (perfect for winter), leaving behind lingering spiced caramel and slightly drying oak.
To this day, I haven’t run across a bad batch of ECBP. I’m happy to report the streak continues. Batch A117 might be a bit lower in proof than previous batches, but it’s just as complex and full of flavor as anything that’s come before it. Nicely done. 8.5/10
Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.