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One night in April I sat down with the first 4 batches of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof to see how they stood up to one another.
This is the third release. It is a 2oz sample graciously provided by @Victor during my visit on March 10. I believe the bottle was opened on November 19 of 2013.
Nose: Sweet brown sugar and maple syrup similar to the 1st release. However, there is more maple, less brown sugar, and less intense over all. Now I am getting a similar sour tone to the 2nd release, only not as strong. This is sitting right between the 1st and 2nd release, but with less intensity and power. This is closer to the 1st then 2nd release if I had to make a call. It is far easier on the nose then the 2nd (if you like that kind of thing).
With water: darker and thicker then the 1st release. It takes water well. The nose actually goes up a bit with water in my book (rare that)
Taste: Thicker then the 1st and 4th release (far better mouth feel). Viscous, sweet brown sugar coating baked apples.
With water: Still decent . . . but not as great.
Finish: Huge wave of sweet brown sugar coated baked apple pie: nutmeg, cinnamon, and other delightful spices. Tons of spices . . . might be the most spice and sharpest bite on any of the batch finishes. This is a nice apple orchard in the fall.
With water: Not as much spice (obviously), but still the spiciest of the night - lovely
Balance, Complexity: Far more balanced then the 4th release and better integrated. I think the balance across the board (nose to finish) is probably the best of the 4 batches. The 1st and 2nd releases each have their own different points of drop off. This guy, while not as impressive in any one category, really delivers a steady delight flavors.
Aesthetic experience: This is a nice bottle . . . but it is a little hard to hold. I like the spout to pour. And I love the barrel proof nature of this beast. I just wish the age were more prominently displayed. A 12 year old Bourbon should say it on the front label!
Conclusion: I am very sad that I missed out on a bottle of this batch. It is probably my second favorite after the 1st release simply because of the complexity and spice . . . and it is an easy drinker.