I recently got a sample of Heaven Hill’s latest Elijah Craig Barrel Proof batch A120 and meant to blind it against my favorite recent batch B519 but realized that I had killed that bottle a while back without saving a sample or reviewing it. So I dug around and found an old B517(another batch I really enjoyed) and used that instead. The blind tasting video is on Instagram here. After that I sat down to write more detailed tasting notes.
Age: 12 years
Abv: 136.6 proof
Nose: Nose hair singeing heat with clear ethanol then subtler caramel and oak notes.
Taste: Hot with rye spice, cinnamon, caramel and oak notes.
Finish: Medium length hot finish with some cinnamon notes.
5 - a whiskey with notable strengths but also held back by some flaws
Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money
Age: 12 years
Abv: 124.2 proof
Nose: Slightly harsh with a bit of ethanol but with nicer vanilla and oak notes too.
Taste: Bold with rich oak, nuts, caramel and spices. Great mouthfeel.
Finish: Long and warm with baking spices, vanilla and subtler oak notes.
8 - an excellent bottle I’d like to have at home
Great - A great deal, I’d buy it again
The A120 was just too hot for me to really enjoy neat and while it was good on a rock the tasting notes would have been even more generic than these were. This review also made me realize I’ve also gotten to the point where I am not impressed if something is good on the rock anymore, especially if it is more than ~$30 since something WT101 is delicious on ice and I can buy that whenever I want and for something higher proof, age stated and nuttier then Knob Creek Single Barrel fits the bill without any of the hassle of getting an ECBP while saving a few bucks too.
C919 and A120 have cemented ECBP as a try before you buy for me and thankfully finding it at a bar around here or getting a sample is pretty easy. I’ll continue to love the more drinkable batches and let the heat monsters stay on the shelf for someone else who will appreciate them.
TL;DR: B517 > A120. A120 was too hot neat; it was quite good on a rock though.