The first Elijah Craig Barrel Proof release of the year, coded A121, is upon us — and hold on to your hats, folks, as it is one of the best releases in the series to date.
For those unfamiliar, these limited edition releases of Elijah Craig (made with a modest amount of rye in the mashbill) are bottled uncut and unfiltered and always at 12 years old. At just under 62% alcohol, it’s a relative lightweight in the series — but I assure you, pay that no mind.
The nose here instantly transports the drinker to the rickhouse, effusive with woody aromatics and some smoldering, scorched earth — but tempered beautifully with sweetness and fruit. Honey and blackberries meld beautifully with peppermint jelly and a grind of pepper, with all the components in lovely balance.
The palate, despite the “low” alcohol level, is blazing at first blush, so let it temper a bit in glass and find its footing. Boldly spicy notes of red pepper, cinnamon, and cocoa give the attack a Mexican chocolate feel, but it quickly settles into a creamy groove that showcases brown butter and more baking spice. It’s layered with wood but never overbearing, again finding balance with the sweeter, fruitier notes. Water gets you to the finish line more quickly, but it also coaxes out more of a peanut butter character, which seems a little dull considering how delightful the palate is otherwise. The lengthy, seductive finish keeps the pedal down on spice and both red and black fruit — muscling that peanut element out of the way without much trouble.
This is one of those whiskeys that keeps pulling you back for additional sniffs, sips, and (let’s be honest) massive gulps. It’s unquestionably a top expression for the series and definitively worth the asking price.