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The Elijah Craig Barrel Proof review

The Elijah Craig Barrel Proof review

Company: Heaven Hill
Vol: 70.1%
Age: 12 years
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley
Price: £95


Elijah Craig’s bourbons are probably the most famous products from the Heaven Hill distillery. The story of the Reverend Elijah Craig and what he brought to whiskey making is also equally as famous. The short unabridged version can be read in one of our very early reviews of the Elijah Craig Small Batch - in the days when the 12 year old age statement still adorned the bottle.

The man himself - maybe - well at least according to Wikipedia

The man himself - maybe - well at least according to Wikipedia

Other Elijah Craig products, alongside, the now no age statement Small Batch and this reviewed Barrel Proof offering, are two Single Barrel age stated bourbons, one 18 years of age and one at an extraordinary 23 years of age.

The Barrel Proof version is released 3 times a year since 2013. For the whiskey geek out there (it takes one to know one) each release has a batch number on the bottle label. For this review (photo above is from the September 2016 release), our sample is from 2014 and the batch is C914 (C being the 3rd release of the year, 9 being the ninth month, September and 14 for the year 2014). The proof values also change with each release, this one happens to be the highest proof ever released to date at a whopping 140.2.

The thought process behind this particular Barrel Proof small batch 12 year old release, and no doubt many other barrel proof bourbons, is to just for a short time, indulge yourself, step into the shoes of a master distiller and to at first-hand experience the whiskey in its purest uncut form, without chill filtering and straight from the barrel. Sounds good right?

The Review:

For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass as usual.


What we got – Maple syrup, caramel, mint and toffee apple sweetness. Considering the ABV is over 70% the nose is so inviting and the proof is very well disguised

What they say we should get - Caramel with toasted oak, fruit notes of apple and orange


What we got – Wow, very very warm and dry with multitude of rich flavours. Absolutely tons of dark caramel chocolate with coffee beans and butterscotch

What they say we should get - Rich vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch along with spices of black pepper & cinnamon at the back of the palate


What we got – A slow burning lengthy finish with a pleasant bitterness. Warming feelings right through to the end

What they say we should get -  Nicely layered showcasing all flavours, fades slowly then lingers as it cools


Our expert tasting notes above are directly taken from the Elijah Craig website where they have attempted to summarise the generalised expected tasting profiles from all of the Barrel Proofs. Each batch release will of course vary slightly in the detail.

This is quite simply a stunning example of Barrel Proof bourbon. It is a powerhouse of aromas and is bursting with flavours. Writing up tasting notes is easy when the descriptors jump out at you with such force the moment it hits your glass.

We don’t often talk about the colour of the whiskey in our reviews but this is so gorgeously dark and inviting to taste. Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible once described this as being the darkest bourbon he has ever seen commercially available. He also said it is bourbon for bourbon lovers with hairy chests, male or female…

If like us, you read reviews to pick up on recommendations from other whiskey fanatics, then the Gents implore you to seek out this bourbon immediately. Without any doubt it goes straight into the Top 10 of The Bourbon Gents League Table and should be placed near the very top of everyone’s wish list. You can’t take it with you, so you might as well spend the cash that you have now. You can thank the Gents later. Enjoy.


8 out of 10 - Mav

9 out of 10 – Mr. Pie

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