Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A124 Review

Batch A124 is the 34th release of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof series which made its first appearance in March of 2013. It is also the second lowest proof of the past all releases, clocking in at 119.0 proof. The only batch with a lower proof was batch batch B521. Beginning with batch B523 (May 2023), the brand dropped the standard 12-year age statement. Batch A124 is 10 years, 9 months old. If you have an ECBP, pour yourself a dram and walk through this Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A124 review.

Series: Annual Barrel Proof series, batch 1 of 3
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 10 years, 9 months
Proof: 119.0
Batch Designation: Small Batch
Proof Designation: Barrel Proof
Filtered Status: Non-Chill Filtered
Mash bill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye
Distillery: Elijah Craig Distillery Co. (Heaven Hill)
Company: Heaven Hill
Bottled By: Elijah Craig Distillery
Distilled/Aging Location: Bardstown, Kentucky
Release Date: January 2024
MSRP: $75
Aftermarket $: $99 – $199
Availability: Relatively Available

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A124 Review
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A124 Review

My tasting reviews are unique in that I include the notes of several well-known whiskey critics. The hope is that this format will help me and others to explore and expand their tasting experience. After you have taken your own tasting notes, read the reviews and see if there is a flavor note that others discerned that now you can detect as well.

I Strongly Recommend that your crack this bottle and let it breath for at least 24 hours before tasting! This bottle is a perfect example of how a bourbon exposed to the air can improve it’s tasting experience. It totally sucked, in my opinion, as a fresh crack…hated it!

Legs

The legs took 15 seconds for the beads to form on the crown, about 32 seconds for the legs to start falling, and about 45 seconds for several of the legs to stream down to the pour.

Nose
  1. Fresh Crack: Caramel, dark vanilla, caramel corn, sweet oak, toasted oak, hint of peanuts, molasses, dark fruits, luxardo cherry, dark coffee.
  2. Caramel, honey, fennel, a floral note, toasted barrel, luxardo cherry, some dark fruits but not as many dark notes compared to the fresh crack (I liked the fresh crack nose better)
Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and an outlier introduction of rye spice. Orange, citrus, orange peel. I get a lot of herbal & rye characteristics. Also, a crushed red pepper note, a nice toasted oak note, a little barrel char. A little lighter and brighter than what we have been used to from Elijah Craig.

Whiskey in SV: The familiar ECBP aromas of sweet caramel, vanilla and oak are certainly present, but it tends more towards toasted nuts than the confectionary & fruity notes.

Drums & Drams: Chili spice, toasty brown sugar, peanut brittle, but not many dark notes. It smells sugary sweet. The nose is on the lighter side. There is also a lot of orange, and a toasted brown sugar that is almost burnt. It smells fine, but it doesn’t smell like the normal ECBP. It smells middle of the road.

Palate
  1. Fresh Crack: Spicy, hot, cinnamon, cloves white pepper, spicy barrel, barrel char, caramel, smoky, sour apple, unripe banana, astringent, unbalanced.
    This is the worst ECBP I’ve ever had (out of 10). It is unbalanced with a strange sourness or muskiness. Lacking sweetness and dark notes, lacking good oak. Mostly just spicy and hot. Flavors are fighting, chaotic, unbalanced.
  2. Caramel, anise, cinnamon, white pepper, hint of peanut shells, hint of pecan pie sweetness, leather, dark fruits.
    The days of being opened has made a big improvement in opening up the sweetness and down-playing the spicy bite. It still has a back-of-the-palate hint of astringent burnt orange peel that is mildly unpleasant. That horrible sourness or muskiness is massively toned down but is still barely there and lingers as a very faint memory.
Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: (Very interesting! He took his first sip, cut the video, and came back saying that this was his second sip because he doesn’t like to review based upon first sip out of a bottle.) This drinks hot, it has a lot of spice, that herbal, rye spice quality. The rye spice plays a big roll. I get that black peppercorn, red pepper flakes. The spice hits immediately, but on the mid-palate you get your caramels, vanillas, brown sugars, toasted oak, and a little hint of that citrus note, that orange peel coming through.

Whiskey in SV: On the palate it arrives with lots of sweetness and baking spices, and its nicely mouth coating. But very quickly an astringent bitter note along with an artificial acetone note interferes with an enjoyable experience. The oaky notes dominate the length of the experience.

Drums & Drams: Very sweet and very spicy. Cotton candy, on the mid-palate, and grass (his face goes sour!). That first sip was not that great. At the front of the palate it begins with a great spiciness, the Heaven Hill caramel, a little bit of nuttiness, a little oak & leather. As the taste develops in your mouth, it falls apart, it gets worse and worse. That’s not favorite ECBP, it’s towards the bottom if not the bottom. This is a hard pass for me.

Finish
  1. The finish is moderately long with an astringent sweetness and mild spiciness.
  2. Caramel, spicy oak, leather, an astringent burnt orange peel flavor, a little bitter.
Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: It has a lingering finish from all that spice, it does come off as being hotter than 119 proof. A little bit of toffee and tobacco.

Whiskey in SV: The finish is mostly some tartness from the oak influence.

Drums & Drams: Grass, freshly cut grass, and a ton of it. It also has a sticky sweet viscosity to it that feels like you pour a sugar packet into my whiskey.

Mouthfeel

It has a light, smooth mouthfeel, but not what I would call viscous or rich.

The Burn

2 out of 5. This means that the burn from the alcohol is quite a bit hotter than what I would expect it to be for a 119 proof bourbon. The spiciness of the flavors accentuate the alcohol and give it more of a bite than other whiskeys of similar proof.

Tasting Summary

Elijah Craig A124 is the worst batch out of 10 that I have tasted. The 9 others that I’ve tasted have ranged from good to really good…it is one of my favorite daily drinker bourbons. And to be clear, I don’t think it has anything to do with the lower age or proof. There are plenty of good whiskeys out there in the 10 year 100 – 120 proof category, so I’m not against it just because of the lower age and proof.

Also, A124 ABSOLUTELY needs to be cracked and allowed to breath for at least a day before tasting! (in my opinion). I hated it as a fresh crack.

Going back to it after about 4 days of being open, I wouldn’t say that I like it, but it’s not as bad. The spicy hotness calmed down, the strange sour/musky notes dissipated, and the sweetness came forward to almost balance the spiciness and heat (really…why is it so hot at just 119 proof?! That’s a bad sign in and of itself.)

I suggest trying this in a bar or as a sample from a friend…it’s not worth having on the shelf. However, if you like bourbons that are dominated by chili pepper and sweetness, this might be right up your alley.

My Tasting Notes

A blank version of this tasting notes wheel is available in both a color and a black & white version in the member’s area. I have included two different tasting note sheets on this review because the tasting changed soooo much after a week of being opened.

Fresh Crack Notes

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A124 review Tasting Notes - Fresh Crack notes

2nd Tasting – Several Days Later

Elijah Craig A124 Tasting Notes after 7 days open

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Greg Blakley
1 day ago

Thanks for the review on this. Had a chance to buy one today and held off based on this and a Facebook post you made. Keep up the good work!

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