Friday, November 9, 2018

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon - Release #11

VITALS:
- $70
- 139.8 Proof
- 12 Years
- Release #11
- Kentucky

I do love a good heater, and these old label releases of Elijah Craig certainly do the trick. These are certainly the hottest bourbons I've had, and this one, clocking in at 139.8 proof, might be the highest proof whiskey I've ever had, though I'd have to verify that. It's certainly the highest proof whiskey I've reviewed here.

This particular bottle came from the influx of ECBP that my local liquor store got in a couple years back. My wife seemed to pick me up a bottle every time she went. I figured they were all from the same batch, until some months later I realized that this one bottle was a different proof than all the rest, thus from a different batch. Here I had been holding onto it thinking it was a back-up, and it was a whole new bottle altogether! It kinda made my day.

The nose is, as expected, very hot! After popping the cork for the first time, I made the mistake of sticking my nose right to the mouth of the bottle. That was quite some time ago at this point, though, so rest assured I've recovered since then. After that ethanol burned off, though, some tasty caramel and tangy amaretto notes came through. I also got a distinct malty note that I didn't expect. Towards the end, while it seemed to get sweeter on the nose, it also developed a sort of leather aroma, which weirdly worked.

The flavor is spicy cinnamon up front and spicy cinnamon on the back. In fact, the back end even took on a bit of a black pepper spice. My point is, it was spicy . . . and, of course, hot. The burn from the alcohol seemed to exaggerate the cinnamon and pepper spice.

However, beneath all that spice there was a consistent layer of brown sugar, a bit of sweetness to help tone it down. That amaretto note also came through pretty noticeably, adding a bit of tanginess to the mix.

I think one of my favorite characteristics to come through, though, didn't make an appearance until about the last third of this bottle. I got a distinct dark chocolate flavor that once I noticed I couldn't ignore. I'm not much of a fan of dark chocolate itself, but as a tasting note in my whiskey, I thought it was great! It worked so well with the brown sugar and cinnamon to create this rich and decadent dessert like quality, but with a heavy spice that kept it grounded.

I also loved the texture of this one. It was so buttery and oily that my mouth just remained coated in flavor long after each sip (and that's all it took was a sip). I think that's partly why it took so long for me to work my way through my bottle is that just a little bit would go a long way, and in more ways than one. This was yet another fantastic bottling of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof!

Grade: A

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