All things old are new again, as the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof line makes a big change beginning with editing B523, the second release for 2023. Out: the standard 12 year old age statement. In: variable age statements which will likely hover around the 12 year mark, but which will now vary from batch to batch. B523 kicks this off with an 11 year, 5 month old age statement (as always, reflecting the youngest barrel in the batch). As a preview, C923, which ships in September, will feature an age statement of 13 years old or more.
So, let’s get things going with the first 11 year old ECBP offering, which hits the bottle uncut at a solid 62.1% abv.
Coffee and cocoa nib notes hit the nose straight off — aromas unsurprising to find in the Eliajahverse — with elements of tobacco and pepper underneath. Cinnamon builds with time in glass, which helps to cut what eventually reveals itself as a rather savory, somewhat beefy experience (again, an iconic part of this whiskey) by layering in some spice. Unfortunately, things come to a bit of a dead end at that point. Water does help open things up, though; at full proof, the experience is decidedly dull around the edges and overly reliant on gamy notes.
There’s sadly just not much fruit here, either on nose or palate, which is something of a bummer, though to its credit the bourbon does not feel overblown with dusty barrel influence at any time. Stronger notes of spearmint, savory pastry dough, and brown butter all work their way into the experience, a dusting of peppers both black and red remaining something of a constant throughout. As I sampled this bottling, I found it to be a whiskey that continued to benefit from water as I added more and more, though of course eventually things started to get a little thin. You may not want to go as far as I did, but a little tempering helps to tame the heavy beefiniess of the experience while coaxing a bit more of the whiskey’s natural spice notes into the mix. That said, the finish remains a little leathery and green no matter how much you doctor it — never quite coming into focus, particularly when facing off against some of the more dazzling ECBP releases we’ve seen in recent years.
The post Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B523 (May 2023) appeared first on Drinkhacker: The Insider's Guide to Good Drinking.