Veteran Bourbon Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B522


Heaven Hill Distillery


78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye


12 Years


121 Proof

Purchase Price $65 (2022)

Official Product Website

History – ”The Father of Bourbon”- Reverend Elijah Craig was a Baptist preacher, an educator, and an entrepreneur who built the first paper and wool mills in Georgetown, Kentucky. But for all his industries, it was his gift as a distiller and an innovator that brought him his greatest acclaim.

While we draw inspiration from parts of Elijah Craig’s story, his legacy will forever be stained by his connection to slavery. Like other Kentucky landowners of his generation, Elijah Craig owned slaves. Uncovering the roles of these laborers, how they contributed to the birth of the Bourbon industry and what happened to them and their families is a critical mission of our brand today. Elijah Craig is actively engaged in academic research and other initiatives to not just uncover the past, but to make America today a more just and equitable country.

In 1789, Elijah Craig became the first distiller to age his whiskey in new charred oak barrels. Some claim that an accidental fire charred his barrels and changed the whiskey inside. Others say he stored his whiskey in former sugar barrels and was impressed with how charring improved the flavor.

However it happened, Elijah Craig knew he had discovered something great. He continued to refine the barrel charring process, imparting smooth, rich flavor to the spirit that would become known as Bourbon. 250 years later, he is still known as the Father of Bourbon—and we craft our Bourbon today using the same time-honored methods.

To sip Barrel Proof is to experience Bourbon in its purest form: uncut, straight from the barrel, and without chill filtering. Each bottle is hand labeled with its unique proof and batch number; but the nose, taste, and finish are pure Elijah Craige.

Value – This isn’t a widely available bottle, so some liquor stores may try to gouge you on your purchase. I think for the price of $65 that I paid, it’s plenty fair. You can tell this is a Bourbon that has been perfected over time. It’s packed full smell, body and heat. It’s also been aged for 12 years, so you can expect to pay more for it than something that has no age statement or transparency.

Appearance – Who doesn’t love the shape of the Elijah Craig bottles. They are sleek, smooth, and fit nicely in your hand. They come standard with a beautifully engraved wooden topped cork. This bottle looks great and is filled with a deep/dark copper colored Bourbon.

Nose – Caramel / old charred oak / subtle spices / brown sugar -This aroma is very light and inviting. This is high proof, yet you barely get any hit of ethanol. It’s very warm and wonderful with profound notes of caramel and charred old wood. It has a slight spiciness to it as well, probably from the rye. I also get some brown sugar coming in at the end. It’s almost what you should expect the ideal bourbon to smell like. Overall, it’s just wonderful. 

Palate – Old charred oak / light earthiness / spicy rye / dry – The first sip is a shocker. It’s oily, buttery and based on the wonderful smells you got earlier, you would expect this to knock your socks off, but it doesn’t. The consistency of the Bourbon is spot on, but it’s lacking a lot in flavor. The spicy hints really come out as it’s sitting at a medium to high heat level for roughly 5 seconds. You get some ethanol, but it’s not too overpowering. Any other flavors are really masked by the old oak flavor and spiciness. It’s also worth noting how dry it makes your mouth feel. On a positive note, you can really tell this is 12 years old. The oiliness and old oak flavor is something you won’t find with those younger Bourbon companies. 

Finish –  Lingering / old oak / very dry – The finish has some leftover heat to it and stays with you for a while. It leaves an old oak flavor in your mouth and really makes your mouth dry. It makes it so dry, it drives you to go get a glass of water and chug it kind of dry. The high proof really starts to pack a punch and numbs the tongue and the inside of the mouth. 

Summary – I’m going to upset a lot of people when I say this, but I feel like this Bourbon is kind of a let down. There is a lot of hype around Elijah Craig and they have a die hard fan following. I totally understand. They have a really outstanding product that is the real deal, but this particular batch of barrel proof doesn’t really do it for me. It has a lot of incredible notes in the nose, but other than that, I don’t really think it’s anything special. I know anyone reading this was expecting an outstanding review, but I have to take into account that the flavor isn’t really there. It tastes like a slightly charred old oak barrel. It has a ton of other great qualities to it, but the most important one, it’s lacking. My main mission here is to provide an honest and unbiased review. I love Elijah Craig products, the history, the bottles, the quality, the aging, but when it comes down to flavor, this one didn’t make the cut.

“This is a bourbon that I think is good, but missing some flavor. It smells wonderful, shows its age, but comes up short in complexity of flavors. I’ll definitely buy a different batch number in the future to review. I know they make a fine product, but this particular batch number didn’t quite hold up to its expectations. 

– John McGowan


Uniqueness – 1-10 – 8

Appearance- 1-10 – 9

Nose- 1-20 – 19

Palate- 1-20 – 11

Finish- 1-20 – 11

Value- 1-20 – 15

Reviewed By:

John McGowan on 10/04/2022

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