Let's spend Sunday with the Reverend, shall we? While I'm recently coming off one of the more modern releases of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, I thought it would be a great idea to throw it back to one of the batches that first got me hooked on the brand. Each of the 2020 batches were quite special in their own way and I remember blinding them six ways from Sunday throughout that interesting year. While I often talked about it with friends and other enthusiasts - I wasn't writing down my thoughts for you, oh well-versed ATW reader just yet. In an effort to retroactively correct that, I will be exploring some of the older batches that I still have bottles of (which is most of them from Elijah Craig).
I'm expecting you know the brand well if you're looking into one of the labels with a little layer of dust on it, so let's dive right into the review.
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 C920 was the 3rd and final release of the 2020 calendar year
Nose: Caramel and molasses burst out of the glass upon raising it to my nose. Aromas of butterscotch, vanilla pudding and classic cream puffs come off in delectable waves. Prevalent but fresh oak permeates this glass, eliciting the feeling of camping in a damp, thriving forest. Confectioners sugar and crème brûlée make my eyes roll back in bliss. Everything comes together beautifully in a cohesive story here. The glass tells the tale of the first introduction of char to oak; creamy vanilla tones can be found in every corner. Before things can reach the precipice of sweet, sugary marshmallow - I find myself impatient to see how this tastes, given how delicious everything on the nose has been thus far. Let's have a taste.
Returning to the nose I find signs of extended aging such as leather and vanilla pipe tobacco. Raspberry tart and sugared plum dance in the senses. It's unbelievable to me that this is 132.8 proof, as there is little evidence of that to the senses. As soft and approachable as a beignet - this embodies how exceptionally well certain barrel proof whiskeys can come across even more approachable than some of their lower proof counterparts. The empty glass smells of potent leather, Hilliards caramel filled chocolate bars, and the funny pages of the Sunday morning newspaper.
Palate: Up front this glass delivers just the right heft, thoroughly flexing each of its proof points to deliver an exquisitely layered experience. As the liquid slides like silk past the taste buds, I find a treasure trove of milk chocolate, vanilla ice cream, white linen and wedding cake. The mouth feel is oily and creamy similar to the remnant coating a large sip of a well-brewed cappuccino will leave. Subsequent sips continue to be quite potent in volume without being damaging or harsh. Strawberry mixes in well to the sweet bakery flavors. I find almond and vanilla bean scone to be the dominant and delicious profile. Every sip is hefty yet balanced and never sloughs off. Plum pudding and walnut pie meet in a welcome reunion of family long missed. Nondescript comfort foods of the Thanksgiving dinner table & dessert line can be found throughout this layered, complex pour. Nilla wafers, black pepper, tiramisu and an infinite simmering effervescence of crushed almonds put this into a category of its own, completely impossible to reproduce. Hints of cherry lean towards an amaretto profile late in the glass. My last sip is like a perfect bite sized dessert treat. Yum. The finish is long and nuanced with coffee bean, plum and buttered croissant.
While my mind's nostalgia may have been pushing me towards giving this one a 5, ultimately it pales in comparison to the greatness of C922. If you put both glasses side by side with each other it is plain to see the contrast. From some of the aforementioned blinds, I remember A120 was my favorite batch of the 2020 releases, and I forecasted B520 to be the approachable fan-favorite. I'd like to get to those some time to soon to see how that feeling has held up. For now I leave you with this! Hope this review helped. Cheers!