The Elijah Craig Barrel Proof should need no introduction, but if you’re just joining us, Batch C920 was bottled in September 2020 at the usual 12 years of age.
This bottling, the final of 3 releases for 2020, has been winning raves, but after multiple rounds of tasting it it just never fully gelled with my palate. The palate offers few surprises: It’s thick with barrel char but layered with dark fruit notes — raisiny and almost pruny at times — with a sweet toffee/butterscotch note coming on strong, evolving into maple syrup as it develops. Some petrol elements and a certain beefiness tend to dominate, though time in glass is a huge help in tempering them.
This is a hot whiskey but just short of scorching, and water is the right call to make things a bit more manageable. The palate is big with char, with a barbeque beef character continuing its dominance, but water helps solidify the sweeter side of the whiskey, with notes of chocolate-covered cherries coalescing in time. Notes of well-browned butter give the bourbon a certain creaminess, but there’s lots of oaky tannin here that eats away at that delicate quality. The finish sees notes of dates and coconut pairing unevenly with an aggressively hot red pepper character and some pipe tobacco notes.
There’s a lot going on here and plenty of enjoyable elements in it, but ultimately I feel like the barrel has been a little too rough with this one, that perhaps it hit its peak a few years back.