August 17, 2016

Bourbon of the Year - Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Perhaps it's odd to declare a bourbon of the year for 2016 right BEFORE bourbon season starts. But the fact is that we're not going to get any limited release bourbon this year. That game ended last year when retails stores started charging secondary market prices for allocated bourbon. Now all the shops we used to stalk come October are charging $700 for George T. Stagg, $1,400 for Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year, and even Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (which we've bought every year since '06) was unattainable. Sad times.

The good news is that there's a much cheaper bourbon that rivals all these guys in the taste department. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof has been hiding in plain sight all these years. And what a sight it is, just look at that marvelous color!!

Now remember for malt whisky you can't always go by color because they often add caramel coloring (unless your malt specifically says "uncoloured" then assume it's been tampered with). But when a bottle says "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey" on it, you know that it's the genuine article. The regulations for "Straight Bourbon" specify no added coloring. All that delicious black coffee darkness comes from hot summers in a charred oak barrel. The fact that ECBP is not watered down to your typical 90 proof allows it to retain its incredible darkness.  But still, it has to be more than that. Perhaps they use extra char on the barrels for these batches?  In any case it's just magical looking isn't it?  #nofilters

Ok can we be totally honest here?  This stuff hit the stores a few weeks ago, but we had to wait to release this post. What were we waiting for? We'll admit it, we were hitting up all our local spots and clearing the shelves. Sorry. But chances are next year people will catch on and this stuff will be selling for $200/bottle.  Right now you can still find it for the original MSRP of around $60. And seriously... Duh.

The latest release, Batch #11, comes in at a testicular circumference-lengthening 69.7% alcohol by volume. Yup, put on your drinking hat and get ready for some one hundred thirty nine point four proof saucy sauce. Just 0.3% more and this stuff would be officially designated "hazmat".  (Yes, for whiskey nerds out there batch #6 did cross the hazmat barrier and it was awesome).  We were also able to find Batch #10 on the shelves which was a paltry 128.8 proof.  P-shaw.  

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Holy thick dripping vanilla, char, leather, tobacco, baking spices, molasses, dark chocolate, bbq. It's all there. What an incredible nose.

Palate: It's alive, man. This is not a beginner's whiskey, but if you are in the game like we are it's just everything you want it to be. Chewy-thick mouthfeel, massive spirit warmth and intensity, incredible sweetness and richness, and very well integrated between all these elements.  I'd drink this stuff all night.

Finish: Just a sublime warm finish. Not as long as a peaty malt, but plenty long for a bourbon. Resting mostly in the vanilla and tree bark department with a rising chest warmth from the insanely high percentage of alcohol you just ingested.  


Well there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that this is an incredible whiskey, absolutely everything we look for in a bourbon drinker's bourbon - cask strength, super full flavored, smooth at outrageous proof - it's got it all. The bad news is that as soon as we drop this post, you'll never see this bottle for $60 again. Not tooting our own horn here, but it's been known to happen. So gobble these up and let the hunger games begin.



  1. Great post, as always. Any idea where one might find a bottle in NYC? I have checked some of the usual suspects and come up empty.

  2. I don't know about NYC, it seems to clear the shelves pretty quickly here, however I can tell you at least two locations no more then 10 miles across the bridge in the nations finest state NJ where it is currently on the shelf.

  3. Golden Rule on Hudson has it

  4. looks like 1 left...

  5. Great bourbon! I had found a bottle when it came out for 45 at my local. Its already gone. I was hitting up some stores in Illinois looking for some Private Barrel and on the way home I stopped by a few old stand by stores that usually get in decent stuff. Last store I went to I found 3 x ECBP 139.4 proof sitting on the shelf behind the EC12 priced at 24.99. Asked the owner the price and he had no clue. Told him I paid 45 for my last bottle, he sold them to me for 34.99 per. I took 2 and left 1 on the shelf. Cheers

  6. not exactly sure how you can call this the bourbon of the year without trying any of the fall releases. Just because bourbon is reaching scotch prices, doesn't mean those bottles aren't better than ECBP.

    You likely won't have the scotch of the year for $60, I'm not sure why that's still the expectation with bourbon.

  7. I'm late to the party, but I have to concur. ECBP is both amazingly tasty and an amazing value. I sipped this side by-side with three other comparably high proof bourbons (all from BT, it just so happens) and this is neck and neck with BTs top of the line GTS, and lately better- because GTS has become less than the apex of the bourbon mountain it used to be. I ought to kick myself, since for the last couple of years I have been giving purchase of ECBP a pass when I saw it on the shelf- I just didn't love EC12 that much, and couldn't quite justify the cost (runs anywhere from $65- 100 in my neighborhood). However, am repeatedly impressed going back to the bottle now, by how sweet, rich, and surprisingly smooth the ECBP can drink for something that's approaching hazmat grade booze.