Giving each whiskey (and whisky) I try a final grade, but only after reaching the bottom of the bottle. After all, just one drink is never enough!
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon 2017 Batch No. B517
- 124.2 Proof
- 12 Years
- Region: Kentucky
Disclaimer: I love Elijah Craig Barrel Proof! This is the one bourbon that my wife know to grab when she sees it in a store. In fact, she stocked me up on some of the private releases, to the point that I've still got partial bottles sitting bot at home and at my office. So, please understand my bias going into this review.
Though I did not come across the first release in 2017, I certainly jumped all over the second release once I found it, and I opened it up right away. This one comes in at a lower proof than many past offerings, but it is still a robust 128 proof. That being said, the nose was much softer than expected. It was full of pleasant vanilla and caramel mixed with a baked apple smell that reminds me of the kind of smells you associate with Thanksgiving. Immediately I was excited to take that first sip.
The initial sip was sweeter than expected but with a light burn. It was very caramel and molasses forward, lending a sort of heaviness to that sweetness, the kind that coats the mouth and sticks around for a while.
There was also a bit of dryness to it, typical of longer-aged witnesses, but again, even that seemed to be quickly overpowered by the molasses flavor that seemed to dominate. That, however, was just fine by me, as though I do enjoy a light oakiness, more than that is too much for me, so this was kind of just the right amount.
The finish was probably my favorite part, though, as that caramel and molasses flavor that seemed to dominate the palate gave way to a heavy influence of vanilla on the back end that stuck around forever! You'd think this was a vanilla bomb from start to finish with as much as the vanilla dominated the finish, but that's not the case. It just seemed to completely change from front to back, all within the same sip.
In later pours, that heavy molasses flavor seemed to lighten up a bit (which is good—it was way to serious!), allowing more traditional flavors to come through, and the palate was more balanced with notes of vanilla and toffee, and even a bit of root beer coming through. The finish, nonetheless, remained vanilla heavy.
It's interesting how this bourbon changed. Though it was interesting to start, it was never bad, because even though the caramel and molasses seemed to dominate at first, it worked because it held back those dry oak notes, and then gave way to the long vanilla finish. It then opened up and turned into an absolutely delicious, complex and yet well-balanced bourbon, and I thoroughly enjoyed what it became.
And now I get to track down the third release this year!
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