As I have mentioned before in a previous post I was able to get a couple bottles of the new Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. After having it sit in my vault for awhile unopened I decided it was time to open it up and see how it fared. But then I thought it would be better to do a side-by-side tasting with what remains of one of my older bottles of ECBP. So here we are two barrel proof bourbons enter the ring and only one wi– well they will both get drank and enjoyed.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch #9
12 years; 67.8%
Color: Deep reddish mahogany
Nose: Vanilla, red hot cinnamon, oak, spice, and cloves.
Taste: Caramel, oak, pepper, spice, and leather. Very earthy.
Finish: Hot! So hot it tickles the nose through the roof of the mouth. The tongue burns from mid-palate forward, the roof of the mouth, the cheeks, and continues to the tip of the tongue where it lingers. The mouth actually feels a bit numb like after a visit with the dentist but unlike the dentist it’s a good feeling, although maybe too intense for some. This leaves a bit of dryness and evaporation on the tongue followed by the aftertaste of leather and pepper.
After adding a somewhere between 10-15 drops of water, the bourbon opened up and calmed down a bit. The burn was still present but less intense and more pleasant. Also noticed some floral and brown sugar notes, making the bourbon more complex.
While it is good without water it is a much more enjoyable experience with a bit of water added. The bourbon opens up and the burn becomes an enjoyable part of the experience instead of the primary part.
After letting my mouth cool down a bit I dove right into the newest batch…
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch #11
12 years; 69.7%
Color: Dark walnut
Nose: Molasses, brown sugar, cloves, oak, and pepper.
Taste: Strong pepper and oak flavor right off the bat with subtle hints of nutmeg and fudge. Substantially more oaky than batch #9.
Finish: Surprisingly, not as hot as batch #9. Instead, it was a long, slow thorough burn that sat on the top of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. There’s less dryness on the tongue instead there’s a bit of a warm tingle on the tongue with a similar aftertaste of leather and pepper.
After adding about 10 drops of water, I noticed that it didn’t tamp down the heat any–which wasn’t too bad to begin with–but it did open up the bourbon with sweet, fruity notes that were reminiscent of caramel apples.
Batch #11 is more balanced, nuanced, and mature. Considering this was the first dram out of a just opened bottle, I expect with a little oxidation that the bourbon will mellow a bit and open up the flavor profile even more. This will likely be a bottle that, as time goes on, will get better and better. I look forward to drinking it.
So there we have it. The first side-by-side tasting, but hopefully not the last. I do have a couple bottles of Stagg, Jr. so I will endeavor to make that my next showdown.