Distillery: Heaven Hill
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley
Aged: 12 years
From the Heaven Hill website:
“The signature Bourbon bearing the name of Rev. Elijah Craig, a Bourbon pioneer who is credited with being the first distiller to age his whiskey in charred oak barrels. Long before the term Small Batch even existed, our Master Distillers were hand-selecting just the right number of barrels to make Elijah Craig. This expertise and attention to detail give Elijah Craig Small Batch the right balance of rich flavor and full body. Each small batch carries a signature warm spice and subtle smoke flavor. A combination that belongs in any Bourbon fan’s regular rotation.“
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon in my humble opinion is one of the best bourbons under $30 (pricing may vary depending on where you live), and the single barrel selections are generally great as well. As a result, I occasionally purchase single barrel offerings (I’ve seen these range from 8-12 years) to see if I get lucky and find any particularly special ones.
That said, in my third Elijah Craig Single Barrel bourbon review I have Elijah Craig 12 Year Single Barrel Barry’s Honey Barrel, picked by Barry Broudy for Broudy’s Liquors in the St. Augustine, FL area. I think this was released around November 2020, so it’s long gone at this point. Apart from Broudy’s often having cool barrel picks at his stores, I was attracted to the 12 year age statement, on the older end for these picks and the same age as the nationally released small batches from before 2016. I’m going to find out if this particular pick takes Elijah Craig to new levels in this Elijah Craig 12 Year Single Barrel Bourbon Broudy’s Honey Barrel review.
Heaven Hill Lineup of Reviews
Oh boy Barry’s Honey Barrel smells good. It’s roasted oak-forward with caramel, dried citrus peel, dried ginger root, a little dry and grassy nuttiness, a slightly drier gala apple, a drop of vanilla buttercream, and a few slivers of dried berries. If you couldn’t tell from all the mentions of “dry”, this definitely smells 12 years old and kind of reminds me of Lux Row 12 Year Double Barrel, which is 5-6x the price. This Elijah Craig 12 Year Single Barrel bourbon smells so good, I just wish the added water didn’t take away so much richness and clarity that is probably in here.
With swirling I smell a lot of roasted, but not heavily burnt, wood up front with caramel, dried citrus, sliced ginger, toasted vanilla, orange extract, dark cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, roasted cocoa, green grape, and lime. It has a roasted smores vibe and overall leans darker and roasty in personality, but still has a bunch of mashed up underlying fruit that I can’t quick pick out as well as I’d like. There also are moments where I’m reminded of the effervescent lime quality from the bourbon new make, which is a nice trait and unique to Heaven Hill’s New Make. This Elijah Craig 12 Year Single Barrel is so enjoyable and mature, I just wish it wasn’t so watered-down but that’s not Barry’s fault at all.
At first, I taste a burst of caramel, vanilla, citrus, peach, oak, cinnamon, and licorice. It’s oak-forward, but not overpowering or too dry as I’ve found in some other 12+ year old bourbons. I don’t know if it’s me or the bourbon, but the heat kicks a tad more than I expected, pushing it closer to 50%. The flavors can be a little shy, so it’s tough to pull out all the notes at first.
“Chewing” opens it up more, bringing out caramel, a little dry nuttiness, vanilla, baked apples with cinnamon and clove, and a few spritzes of fresh orange and lime that give off this tingly carbonated sensation in my tongue – like an orange seltzer or less sweet Sprite. I’ve found that same citrus note in the Heaven Hill Trybox Bourbon New Make, which I like a lot, and I’m glad that it’s still here after 12 years in oak. Even at 12 years old, this Elijah Craig Single Barrel is not so intensely dark and oaky, but it’s still fairly oak and roasted-forward in a pleasant manner. I wish the flavors were a little more rich and varied, but a lot of it has to do with the general nature of these Elijah Craig barrel picks being diluted to 47% ABV. Regardless, this is a more mature take on Elijah Craig Single Barrel bourbon and one I’d happily buy again and again.
The finish has this blend of roasted vanilla, candied ginger, licorice, white sugar, and roasted that’s very mature and pleasant. “Chewing” leaves a tingly carbonation-like sensation with caramel, apple, oak tannins, vanilla, mint, and lime. That bright, tropical, and carbonated citrus effervescence that’s more lime than orange also carries over and adds to Barry’s Honey Barrel’s liveliness.
This Elijah Craig 12 Year Single Barrel Broudy’s Pick smells and tastes mature as a 12 year bourbon should, and is yet another successful Elijah Craig barrel pick. In some ways, it reminds me of Lux Row 12 Year Double Barrel Bourbon (likely sourced from Heaven Hill) with a similar refined roasted oak-forwardness that isn’t as overly burnt or overpowering, as well as a bright, sweet, and carbonated citrus-like seltzer (I also find this seltzer note in the new make). The main issue, if you can call it that, is that the added water dulls everything, which is unfortunate but expected. Thankfully, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof 12 Year and upcoming Elijah Craig Single Barrel Barrel Proof bourbons take care of that.
Elijah Craig 12 Year Single Barrel Barry’s Honey Barrel Bourbon, at $30, is a high quality and modestly priced bourbon, making it an outrageous value. Bourbon pricing is frequently maddening, so whiskeys like this are an oasis in that insanity. The bad news for most people is that these could only be found in the St. Augustine, FL area and are certainly gone now. The good news is that your local retailer(s) may have their own Elijah Craig Single Barrels, so I recommend going out to find them.
I also think Elijah Craig barrel picks make solid Blanton’s substitutes, so check my writeup on that topic.