Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (C922) Review

Scroll down to content
20180116_220726-01


Rising from the ashes of Prohibition and into the midst of the Great Depression in Bardstown, KY, Heaven Hill Distillery has grown to be the largest independent family-owned and operated producers of distilled spirits products in the US, and the second-largest holder of bourbon whiskey inventory in the world. The distillery was set up in 1935 after a small group approached the Shapira family seeking capital investment to set up a distillery using their technical expertise. Following personal financial difficulties among the other members of the founding group, their interests in the “Old Heavenhill Springs” distillery was bought out by the Shapira family making the distillery a fully family-owned enterprise. With renewed purpose the family kept on one of the original investors, James L. Beam as Master Distiller, and hired the best bourbon producing talent they could find in their local Bardstown. Four years later in 1939 they released their first product, a 4 year old Bottled in Bond bourbon under the Old Heaven Hill brand. The brand quickly became one of the top selling bourbons in the State and cemented the distillery’s position as one of the top bourbon producers in Kentucky at the time. The name of the distillery originates from the family name of William Heavenhill who was an early pioneer farmer and owned the original property on which the distillery sat. When originally registering the company a clerical mistake resulted in the name becoming Heaven Hill as opposed to Heavenhill.

On November 7th 1996 a fire that started in one of the barrel ageing warehouses spread by strong winds, destroying almost the entire distillery and numerous ageing warehouses. Overall 90,000 barrels of whisky were lost and for the next 3 years the company was dependent on production capacity in neighbouring distilleries. In 1999 Heaven Hill completed the purchase of the Old Bernheim Distillery from Diageo in Louisville and once the distillery was adapted, the production and distillation end moved to Louisville whilst ageing, bottling, and shipping still occur on the original Bardstown site.

Today the modern iteration of the company, Heaven Hill Brands, has become a diversified supplier of whiskeys, liqueurs, vodkas, rums, and other spirits. They own 62 rickhouses in Central KY and distribute hundreds of brands. Under the Heaven Hill Distillery portfolio, they produce award-winning products such as Henry McKenna, Elijah Craig, Evan William, Larceny, Old Fitzgerald, and Rittenhouse rye to name a few. The distillery also has the largest number of Bottled in Bond whiskies on the market and is the only heritage distiller that features every major category of American whiskey in their 5 distinct mashbills producing traditional bourbon, wheated bourbon, rye whiskey, corn whiskey, and wheat whiskey. Under 7th Master Distiller (and fellow countryman) Conor O’Driscoll the distillery is on course to fill almost 400,000 barrels again this year and with continued investment production capacity is growing every year to meet rising demand.

First introduced in 1986 as the bourbon market was nearing a historic low, the Elijah Craig brand consisted of a 12 y.o. premium bourbon offered by the Heaven Hill Distillery as a statement against the younger, cheaper, and lower quality bourbon offerings that were dominating the bourbon market at the time. Named in honour of the Baptist preacher of the same name, Heaven Hill accredit the first discovery and use of barrel charring in producing bourbon whiskey to Craig. The Elijah Craig brand is comprised of multiple offerings with current releases including the Small Batch, a barrel proof offering, an 18 y.o. offering, a 23 y.o. offering, and a distillery-only Barrel Select offering. Previous bottlings under this brand have also included the popular 12 y.o. age-stated Small Batch, and 20, 21, and 22 y.o. offerings which have since been discontinued. Despite the Small Batch losing its age-statement in 2016, due to demand outstripping supply, the barrel proof offering still retains its 12 y.o. age statement as do the older releases such as the 18 and 23 y.o.

As the first barrel proof offering from Heaven Hill, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof was released in 2013 as an uncut, minimally-filtered, small batch of 12y.o. Elijah Craig bourbon bottled straight from the barrel. Being a limited release product there are three releases each year in and around January, May, and September, with each batch bearing a batch number (since 2017) and a unique proof. This variance in proof between batches gives Elijah Craig fans a unique opportunity to explore the impact of the long ageing and resulting proof in a small batch of approximately 200 barrels. The first letter of the batch number indicates which of that year’s releases the bottle was a part of, starting with “A,” the second digit indicates the month of the year the bottle was released, and the third and fourth digits indicate the year.

Today I’ll be taking a look at the third release of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof for 2022 which was released in September.

Vital Stats:

Name: Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof Bourbon (Batch C922)
Age: 12 years old
Proof:  124.8 Proof (62.4% ABV)
Type: Kentucky straight bourbon
Mashbill: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Producer: Heaven Hill Distillery, KY
Website:  https://elijahcraig.com/barrel-proof
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens complex and packed full of dark caramels, tart fruits, baking spices, charred barrel notes, herbaceousness, and a kick of ethanol. As this dissipates and you nose deeper the caramels gain a butterscotch edge, the fruits combine with this to give notes of red and black fruits stewed in brown sugar caramel, a pronounced almond note emerges, and charred herbaceous spices dance around the edges.

Palate: On the palate, there’s a quick flash of dark caramels quickly turning to tart red and black fruit stewed in brown sugar before near-burnt caramelised almond and charred oak notes also emerge. As you chew on these there’s sudden explosion of barrel spices paired with ethanol heat moving from the mid-palate towards the front of the tongue and inside of the cheeks. Once this fades back there are lingering notes of warm peppery spice, rich cloves, complex fruits, toasted almonds, dark chocolate, and herbaceous oak.

Finish: The finish is a mirror of the palate with lingering tart fruits, baking spices, toasted almonds, herbaceous charred oak, and an ethanol-driven warmth which leads into a long aftertaste of fruits, charred herbaceous oak and almonds.

Overall

This bourbon is excellent and ticks all the right boxes; it’s barrel proof without filtration, aged into double digits, and is packed full of those delicious complex flavours you expect from this calibre of release. True to form you’re also left with nothing but pure enjoyment once you’re 3 sips in with spice and barrel notes, warm sweet fruits, baking spices, and caramels all dancing on the palate.

As I was sipping this I also couldn’t help but notice that C922 is very reminiscent of the Heaven Hill 17 y.o. Heritage Collection bourbon release. Similar to that release, this is packed out with big fruit notes, delicious and complex barrel spice notes, and a certain je ne sais quoi I typically associate with much older bourbons. That’s ’s not to say that this is in a similar age range, however, a lot of the flavours carry through consistently and with all the hype surrounding older limited-release bourbons from other producers this year Heaven Hill may just have quietly responded with something on a similar level. Compared to the precious B522 release, this has a more barrel-forward profile with a touch less fruit and far more spice and chocolate notes. C922 is also a touch fiery but at 124.8 proof this is to be expected!

Elijah Craig’s three annual releases of barrel proof bourbon are little oases of quality barrel proof whiskey in a turbulent ocean of inconsistent and overpriced releases from other producers. This year we have our pick of 3 great releases that are well worth your money if you like barrel proof bourbon that’s aged well and priced even better!

Try or Buy?

If you see it, buy it. With a wide distribution and a recommended price of $60 (£85 in the UK), if you can only get your hands on one bottle of barrel-proof bourbon from 2022 make it this. You could not ask for a better priced 12y.o. bourbon and any barrel-proof whiskey fan not buying this is seriously missing out.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

Like you, I’m a whiskey enthusiast. I don’t earn any money from distilleries, their parent companies, or their subsidiaries for my reviews. If you like what you’ve read and want to support this page then why not buy me a dram?

$5.00
$10.00
$15.00
$5.00
$15.00
$20.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

Buy
Me a Dram!
🥃
Buy
Me a Dram!
🥃
Buy
Me a Dram!
🥃

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: