...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Elijah Craig 12 year old Small Batch, 12 on back label

This final edition of Elijah Craig 12 year old was Sample D in the recent Taste Off. It just missed landing in last place by two points, though I ranked it 3rd during my own blind tasting.

I picked up this bottle just before leaving Long Beach. As you'll notice, the 12 year old age statement has vanished from the front label. Where did it go? The back label.

This was not Heaven Hill's finest hour. I've written about this before, but to recap: When the company moved the age statement off the front label, bourbon fans expressed worry that this portended the end of the age statement. Heaven Hill's brand ambassador denied it with an unwise dose of condescending sarcasm. Then the age statement was pulled seven months later.

As per the previous reviews this week, I tasted this bourbon blindly, then did another tasting when I knew what was in my glass. I've listed both sets of notes below.

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Brand: Elijah Craig
Region: Bardstown, Kentucky
Distillery: DSP-KY-1
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: minimum 12 years
Bottled: around 2015
Alcohol by Volume: 47%

When I didn't know what I was drinking

The nose is nutty, salty and woody. There's also some coca cola syrup, mint and a whiff of smoke. More vanilla and wood spice with time. “Twigs in the rain.” I was clearly starting to feel the bourbon at this point.

The palate is sweet and fruity, with limes, oranges and black cherries. Caramel, smoked nuts and just a little bit of woody bitterness.

The sweet and tart finish is full of oranges and tannins.

When I DID know what I was drinking

The nose is all over the place. To wit: paste, honey, lemon, oak, sugar, ground mustard seed and burnt peanuts.

The palate is mostly made up of dried grass clippings. Then there’s tart citrus, earth, an odd sweetness and a hint of eggs.

Grass clippings and tannins in the finish. Tart and not that sweet.

Unlike the previous Elijah Craigs, something definitely happened to this whiskey in the two weeks between the tastings. It was much better when I tried it blind. The palate was very strange during the retry. Even so, it's curious that I gave this edition such a high score in my review three years ago. It's another good bourbon, and I'd be happy to buy a bottle of the stuff I tried blindly, but a number of the other Heaven Hill brands (such as HH BIB, Evan Williams, Henry McKenna) often match or top this edition's quality in their own more recent versions.

Availability - Secondary market, or in some random corner liquor stores
Rating - 82 (from my blind tasting experience only)