Somehow I've fallen off the Elijah Craig barrel proof train - I think it was when every store in the state of Massachusetts started getting single barrel picks. The excitement was there for about a month when the first few trickled in, but then they were absolutely everywhere. There was magic in the 3 release per year strategy, and honestly the blends are typically significantly better than the single barrels. There will always been exception, but the Elijah Craig barrel proof I fell in love with were the 2020 batches.
Now notwithstanding all the high bars hanging around, I feel obligated to give the latest batch a fair shake today. I haven't found the time (nor made it a priority) to get ahead of these batches, but at least take the most relevant batch to a shelf near you for a spin today. Just looking at the glass is getting me a little amped up; I don't normally discuss color, but this pour has a really unique red tinge in the edges of the dark amber liquid. Let's get into it!
Company on Label: Elijah Craig (Heaven Hill)
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Barley
Age: 12 years
Further identification: Batch C922
Nose: On first lifting the glass sweet bread pudding, confectioners sugar, and the rest of a proper patisserie rise to meet the nose deftly. Vanilla married in molasses coats the tight-grained oak cutting board in front of me. Visions come to mind of honey drizzles over a charcuterie board of sharp cheeses (not present in the aromas, just a mental proximity). There's just a hint of something savory lingering in the background. Soft black pepper gently contrasts a silky graham cracker cream pie. A swirl of the glass turns everything bright; white pepper vanilla bean, and funky Spring florals jump out at me. I keep running into a fairly solid wall of well-aged oak, so I'll have a sip to see if we can't find some more at play here.
Returning to the nose I find the barrel influence has been cranked up to 11 and it's old, leathery & delicious in the nose. Aromas of dates and figs battle at times where sweet meets savory. It's both a delicate & robust balance of flavor and finesse. The empty glass smells of honeysuckle, orange marmalade, and pure, silky vanilla perfume. Mmm.
Palate: My first sip is delectable. Buttercream frosting, eggnog and vanilla ice cream dance on the tongue before a burst of creamy cherry hots slides down the chest. I've got to admit - it's love at first sip here. There is a thick mouth coating of dark chocolate mixed with caramel and peanut M&M's that is prevalent everywhere that the liquid passed by. Another sip is heftier but still balanced and approachable. I find milk duds, maraschino cherry ice cream, caramel milk shake and buttery crescent rolls. I'm loving all the dessert flavors that are being stirred up here. A larger sip and swish does elicit some of the latent spice, but it's still all baked-in, not a dominant characteristic. Overall this is a creamy, dreamy, delicious pour. My last sip is a treat again after a sip of water. The buttery bakery tones return incredibly strong & leave me with an impossibly long linger of a Danish pastry with just a touch of raspberry.
Well, the blending team at Heaven Hill have really outdone themselves again. This is very reminiscent of the quality of the 2020 batches I know and love. I'd take this over countless other much rarer, allocated releases. I think this one has rekindled my love for this brand. Elijah baby, we're back. Cheers!