I recently picked this one up at the LCBO / Waddington's auction in November 2021. Like every Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, it is twelve years old; this one is Batch B517, which means it's the 2nd batch of that year, released in May 2017. I've tasted this before, at a bar in Chicago; I've also tasted two other batches, both excellent.
The colour is a dark copper. Stunning on the nose with old wet leather, cloves, black cherry and cinnamon. Pungent dried herbs such as parsley and oregano. Very dark chocolate. Over-dry cigar. Espresso. Orange peel. Toasted walnut. A bit minty with water. Extremely robust.
Hot on the palate with cinnamon, vanilla pods, more black cherry and some mint. Very chewy. Mint leaves. A bit of blood orange. Toasted almond. Cocoa powder. Really comes alive with water, dialling up the spice and adding more charred oak and cayenne. Incredibly strong and muscular, but with panache.
The extremely long finish is mouthdrying with chili heat, black pepper, liquorice all-sorts and cherry. This about as good as bourbon gets - leather, fruit, lots of oak and massive spice. Rated #1 whisky of 2017 by Whisky Advocate! Let's see how it stacks up next to the very next batch release...