The latest of Elijah Craig’s 12 year old Barrel Proof bourbons was bottled in May 2020 and bears the B520 batch code. At 127.2 proof, it’s got the third-lowest abv of the entire series. How does that change the final analysis? Let’s find out.
The nose is heady with classic rickhouse aromas — dark chocolate and a ton of barrel char, with a lingering, savory, barbecue smoke. I get a hint of perfumy sandalwood at times, but it’s moderated beneath the oak-heavy elements. The palate changes directions a bit, intensely spiced with notes of cloves and nutmeg emerging. Brown butter, dark chocolate, and well-burnt caramel all come to the fore with time in glass.
Though it’s comparatively low in alcohol, water is of benefit here, and it can stand a lot. Butterscotch and hints of red pepper all percolate up, leading to a finish that remains edgy with char and, curiously, finds room for notes of both brown butter and peanut butter. There’s plenty of spice on the back end, but it comes across as gritty and a bit pushy.
All told, it’s a perfectly fine example of Elijah Craig’s Barrel Proof whiskey, but its lack of direction and balance keeps it well off my list of favorites.