Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is a 12 year old, Cask Strength / Barrel Proof, Non-Chill Filtered expression of Elijah Craig 12 – one of Heaven Hill’s 2 flagship bourbons. Made from a Mashbill of 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% barley like its younger cousin Evan Williams, this bourbon packs a punch in both the proof and flavor departments. The first ECBP was first released in the fall of 2013 and has been a quarterly release for them ever since and is often hard to find because of their popularity.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #1 (67.1% / 134.2 proof)
Nose: Wood, dark sweets, dark fruit, spice and dusty grain
Palate: Dark fruit, dark sweets, grain, astringency, lemon zest, oak and grain.
Finish: Oak, herbal, dark fruit, s’mores.
Overall: B (83-86) Definitely on the higher end of the B range. It has a nice bourbon character to it, but even with water it feels a bit muted. Like it’s holding back just a wee bit.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #2 (68.2% / 137 proof)
Nose: Cherry heavy dark fruit, butterscotch heavy dark sweets, oak and a touch herbal.
Palate: Dark fruit, peanuts, toasted grains, wood, butterscotch and a touch of astringency.
Finish: Oak, butterscotch and mint that fades out to a light herbal character.
Overall: B+ (87-89) This one was excellent. Release #2 was rich, full and had a nice depth to it across the senses. If it opened up a bit more with water then it would have scored an A-. My second favorite of the lineup.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #3 (66.6% / 133.2 proof)
Nose: Oak, toffee, dark sweets, lemon custard, vanilla and dark fruit.
Palate: Oak, spice, root beer popsicle, pepper, a touch of grapy / raisiny dark fruit and astringency.
Finish: Oak, herbal, toffee, spice and peanut.
Overall: B- (80-82) A bit muted across the senses and adding water brought out some astringent burnt notes. Not enough to kill it, but enough to knock it from a B to a B-.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #4 (66.2% / 132.4 proof)
Nose: Oak, cherry heavy dark fruit, spice, watery dark sweets, a touch of imitation vanilla and some pie crust.
Palate: Oak, cherry heavy dark fruit, spice, watery dark sweets, a touch of imitation vanilla and some pie crust.
Finish: Oak, watery dark fruit and a bit of vanilla.
Overall: C+ (77-79) Watery and oaky at the same time with an overall character that was a bit boring to be honest. Water didn’t open it up, just flattened it out even more.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #5 (66.2% / 134.8 proof)
Nose: Caramel, watery oak, dark fruit and spice.
Palate: Oak, corn, watery caramel, spice and peanuts.
Finish: Oak, peanuts, musty corn and vanilla.
Overall: B- (80-82) Water releases a bit of a cough syrup quality and overall it’s a tad boring. Not bad though and still worth trying.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #6 (70.1% / 140.2 proof)
Nose: Spice, oak, currant heavy dark fruit, complex dark sweets, spice and a touch herbal.
Palate: Oak, toasted corn, spice, complex dark fruit, caramel heavy dark sweets, and spice.
Finish: Oak, roasted peanuts, corn and spice.
Overall: A- (90-92) This was unanimously everyone’s favorite and it’s easy to see why. It’s complex, multi-faceted and deep. Water worked magic on this one and opened it up greatly.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #7 (64% / 128 proof)
Nose: Dark fruit, dark sweets, toasted grain, oily nuts and spice.
Palate: Dark fruit, dark sweets, toasted grain, oily nuts, spice and a bit of cocoa.
Finish: Oak, dark fruit, corn and cocoa.
Overall: B+ (87-89) My 3rd favorite of the night. It showed a slightly different character and water brought out some nice toasty notes that I really enjoyed.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #8 (69.9% / 139.8 proof)
Nose: Dark fruit, toffee, banana, grains, melon and a nutty character.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, biscuits, oak, spice and cherry heavy dark fruit.
Finish: Caramel, oak and spice.
Overall: B (83-86) Initially I felt a bit put off by it with the weird notes clashing a bit, but after adding some water it evened out and ended up enjoying it.
My overall feeling on the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Releases so far is that the nose is almost always a bit closed off at first, but a bit of water opens it right up. I definitely recommend trying these with a splash of water not just to help open them up, but to also cut the heat from the alcohol a bit. My final verdict on the releases, so far, would be that they’re all worth a try, so long as the price is right, except for release #4. That one I’d be weary of unless you get a REALLY good price on it.