Thanks to /u/nofansky for the sample via /r/ScotchSwap on reddit.
Everyone who’s ever taken an interest in bourbon has tried, or should try Heaven Hill Distillery’s Elijah Craig Small Batch. It’s fairly well aged for a bourbon and has quite a unique and complex yet mellow profile, making it a firm favourite of many a whiskey drinker.
But this is not that whiskey. This is the amped up version bottled at barrel proof (cask strength in other words). While the standard Small Batch was recently rebranded and had the age statement removed (it used to state that it was 12 years old, this was removed and it’s not a mix of 8-12 year old whiskies), this expression is, as far as I understand, going to remain 12 years old.
While we do have a decent range of bourbons here in Israel, it’s usually only the standard expressions with only a rare few full strength expressions available, so my experience with this stuff is a little limited. That said I love the ones I have tried (minus Wild Turkey 101 :p) and I really love Elijah Craig so been looking to try this one for some time now.
This isn’t just any full strength bourbon though. This puppy clocks in at a whopping 69.4% ABV which is quite insane.
Aged 12 years. 69.4% ABV. Bottled at cask strength.
Nose: Immediate hit of oak along with some orange sponge cake. Macadamias. Black cherry pudding. Marzipan. Marmalade. With water the sweeter notes open up, a really lovely, creamy note, like a creme brulee along with some apricot jam. After some time some notes of whole cinnamon bark turn up.
Palate: Wood. Marmalade and burning. Even with tiny sips, at 69.4% ABV this one needs some water. Dry wood. Citrus peels. Woody tannins. Bitter vanilla & cacao. Transitions into some sweet candied lemon and orange notes right at the end.
Finish: Long. Oranges. Unbuttered toast. Bitter wood. Hints of peach and amaretto flair up now and then and a lingering woodspice note.
Would I buy this: Yes
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
This is a different beast entirely from the standard Elijah Craig. It has the same profile but everything is cranked up to maximum intensity, maybe with a few extra dark notes to it. Some really lovely complexity and with a little water it opens up like a charm. Lovely.