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Nearly every American whiskey distillery has a barrel-proof expression in its lineup these days. Some skirt the upper limits of palatability with scorchingly-high hazmat ABVs, while others offer a more civilized sipping experience. Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig Barrel Proof differs depending on the batch, and the latest release is on the lower end of the spectrum—which happens to be a very good thing.
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Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A124 (meaning the first batch released in January of 2024), is markedly different from the last batch, C923. That bourbon was the oldest to date at nearly 14 years old (the brand recently dropped its 12-year age statement in favor of releasing bourbons at different ages), and bottled at a very high 133 proof. That bourbon was still quite good, but that’s a pretty hot sipper that could use some water or a large ice cube to cool it down. The new ECBP, however, is 10 years and nine months old and bottled at 119 proof, putting this more along the lines of Wild Turkey Rare Breed than one of A. Smith Bowman’s recent tongue-blazing cask-strength bourbons.
Like all Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases, A124 is uncut and non-chill filtered. And this new one is very good. The nose is relatively soft with notes of vanilla and butter. Then the palate opens with oak and grain, and evolves from there into classic bourbon notes of caramel, brown sugar, baked apple, cinnamon, and molasses, with just a touch of anise on the finish. Remember, the lower proof of this release is not because the whiskey has been diluted before bottling, it’s just the result of how the barrels breathed while aging (or how thirsty the angels were for their share) based on temperature and humidity in the warehouses—and as any distiller will tell you, a little bit of whiskey magic was involved as well.
You can find Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A124 (SRP $75) available to purchase now from websites like ReserveBar, but check the details to be sure which batch you are getting. As always you should drink your whiskey any way you like, but this is one barrel-proofer that you might just want to sip neat.
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