Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A119 and B519 represent Elijah Craig Barrel Proof’s first two releases for 2019, thus the “A” and “B” designations. A119 was released in January and B519 in May.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof has proven to be a benchmark in the bourbon value category. In fact, we frequently refer to it in our reviews when assessing a bottle’s particular value. This is because it checks several boxes: well-aged (12 years), barrel proof, and under $60 retail. In the current bourbon market, that is hard to come by.
But value aside, the quality alone is worth mentioning. We have reviewed past Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases, each with good results. When the 2019 bottles started hitting local shelves (usually months after the bottles’ monthly code moniker), the expectation was that these would be no exception.
So, is there anything new to report on the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof front? There is! For the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B519, it contains the lowest proof of any release to date – 122.2. In fact, it is only the second time that the proof has dipped into the 120s. Though still obviously high relative to other bourbons, this lower proof is intriguing for what flavors could be unlocked.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A119 (12 years old, 135.2 proof)
Nose: Quite hot, even with several minutes of open air. Underneath the heat there is a rich caramel and dark chocolate mixture, with a hint of some red chilies. 3.5/5
Palate: The heat from the high proof is nearly overpowering. But there is also rich toffee and oak, though tannic, along with some cherry vanilla coke. 3.5/5
Finish: The heat does not let up in the finish, which leaves a long, lingering sting. A bit sweeter than the palate, the toffee and vanilla flavors come through most prominently. 3.5/5
Overall: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is always good. This continues that trend, though without offering anything to push it towards a notable release. Still a very good pour. 3.5/5
Value: At $69 locally (though now almost always under the counter), this is a terrific value. 4/5
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B519 (12 years old, 122.2 proof)
Nose: Sugar coated nuts initially; underneath are some fruit and citrus notes; some barrel char; the nose is not terribly complex but the mixture is pleasant and not as stinging as past releases. 4/5
Palate: The fruit and nut mixture is at the forefront, with some caramel and maple syrup bringing a more sweet than spicy character. The spice start to round out the back end of the palate, most notably with ground cinnamon. 4/5
Finish: Gets dry quickly, with strong oak and dark chocolate. A bit bitter, with some of the fruit from the nose and palate in the far background. 3/5
Overall: This is an example of a batch that doesn’t reach that next level, but still delivers a flavorful and balanced experience. 4/5
Value: Again, getting a 12-year barrel proof bourbon from a reputable brand with a limited distribution for $69, is becoming nearly unheard of. 4/5
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