Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch 520 is the "cocaine of bourbons" and will leave you picking your jaw up off the ground. Quite possibly the best bourbon I have had this year, this barrel proof firewater goes down as smooth as any significantly less proof bourbon, and with it packs all the flavor you'd expect from a concentrated bourbon.
The nose on this is very good, it doesn't overwhelm the senses surprisingly, as one might expect with such a high proof bourbon. I was just comparing it with Colonel Taylor Small Batch and I find the latter to be far more astringent while being significantly lower in ABV. Notes of oak, vanilla, cherries and cola come through strongly but sweetly. If this isn't enough to make you want to take a sip well then maybe bourbon isn't your drink.
First sip is delightful– spicy, kind of tart, very strong cola flavor and a bit of cherries similar to the nose. Very nice Kentucky hug under the tongue. It does not burn as much as you'd expect going down. I have some homemade bourbon aging on oak right now, and at around 130-135 proof drinking that will have you feeling every square millimeter of your esophagus. I'm truly impressed with how smooth and drinkable this 127 proof bourbon is, I'm a bit dumbfounded. Adding a cube to the glass only opens it up further. Subtle notes of clove and citrus.
The finish is the best thing I've had this year without a doubt. Lingers long, dies out to a sort of spicy, nutty cola flavor– like cherry coke but with tingles! If you're like me and enjoy the burn, give it a good swish around the front of your mouth and enjoy a hug that'll linger for a couple of good minutes.
Overall, my general expectation with barrel proof's is that they'll be super oaky and overpowering– like the Old Grandad 114 I reviewed several months ago. The nuanced, complex flavors in this latest barrel proof pick from Elijah Craig make it amongst the best bang for your buck (~$50 MSRP) out there on the market. I'm highly looking forward to the B920 release expected to hit shelves soon. If it's any bit near as good as this, it's going to occupy a permanent place on my bourbon shelf.