Best Bourbon of 2017 (So Far)

I know this post will receive some backlash. But, I’ve decided that’s not a good reason to forgo posting. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch “B” is the best release of 2017. That may be a little premature since fall is when 75% of LE’s hit the shelf. But, I think Batch B may remain at the top after bourbon season 2017. This isn’t a paid or sponsored review. I did receive a sample from them of this release. But, it remains unopened in my cabinet because I found a bottle on my own.
 
Here’s why Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (ECBP) Batch B is the best out today. Because everyone’s taste and budgets are different, the term “best” is subjective. I acknowledge the subjective nature of this post. But, here is why I define ECBP as the best. First, the taste. Skip down a few paragraphs for the review. Second, it’s a 12-year barrel proof bourbon. Yes, Heaven Hill has removed the “12” from the regular EC but it remains on the barrel proof. It’s hard to find double digit age statements on Bourbon labels these days. Unless we’re talking about painfully limited releases. Third, the price. It retails for $60-$75 a bottle. That’s a steal on most retail shelves. Finally, it’s somewhat available. Sure it won’t sit on shelves for long. But, if you search and talk to stores, the odds are you’ll get a bottle. Aside from Four Roses private barrels, no one is close to the dollar-for-dollar quality of ECBP.
2017 ECBP
As mentioned above, Heaven Hill dropped the age statement of Elijah Craig Small Batch. This was after confirming they weren’t. Most consumers took offense to this. It was disappointing to me at the time. I’ve changed my mind slightly. I’m OK with the dropped the age statement. As long as that gives more room for private picks and ECBP inventory. Heaven Hill redesigned their website to provide information that Bourbonr’s actually care about. They provide information on things like mash bills as well as how they make and age their whiskey. Where’d they got that idea :)? They’ve also created a list of all the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases (also a neat concept). They’ve been killing it in 2017 compared to most brands. No brand or distillery is perfect but they continue to listen to the consumer and try to keep them happy. It’s more fun to point out distilleries and brands that screw up. But, it’s important to point out the ones that are doing it right as well.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch “B” Review

The nose is caramel(y) and toffee. There are some fruit and berry notes. It’s well balanced with notes of pepper and tobacco. The taste is where it shines. The sweetness up front leads to orange peel and black tea. There are notes of brown sugar and ginger cookies. It’s lower proof than other ECBP releases. It still leaves with a powerful and lingering finish.
2017-07-21 20.27.03-2
I was 2-3 drinks deep at a tasting when I first cracked this bottle. I thought it was excellent but wanted to revisit on a fresh palate. It only improved from my first tasting. I hate for this to be a hype review for a bottle that has a limited allocation. But, I know a lot of Bourbonr’s will pass on ECBP because they already have prior releases. This is a bottle I wouldn’t pass on. Batch B is a 12-year, barrel proof, $65 and somewhat available. Because of that, I consider it the best release of 2017.

27 comments

    A little confusing as you have 2 different bottles pictured. The bottle in “your” photo is the 124.2 proof batch “B” as you say, but the stock photo also in your review is the 127 proof batch “A”. I’ve tried them both and tend to agree. . .it’s a drinker! Cheers and keep up the bourbon work!

    Ok thanks for the clarification I bought a bottle 3 weeks ago in Connecticut and can’t remember the proof. Right now it’s rolling around in a box in the back of my truck. My answer to Trey Zoeller’s aged at sea mine is interstate aged. My next road trip will should complete the process and I will open it up at the targeted Weber kettle charcoaled steak session

    Btw it’s keeping company with a bottle of the 10yr Rebel Yell Single barrel which I’m led to believe is a nice treat as well…

    ummm, I am going to suggest tinking outside the box, try the 16 year Hochsteder Rye, that is truly fantastic, and has been my favorite for 2017, I consider ECBP nothing special no matter what year it is

    100% agreed, my wife and I have just destroyed a bottle I purchased in early June. We’re just getting into the hobby and trying to taste more deliberately — this one is a keeper.

    Anyone here have an opportunity to try a pour of Elmer T Lee Single Barrel or EH Taylor Four Grain? Word is they are both great also

    I boughta bottle and when i got and compared it to other ecbp i had. Went back and bought another bottle! Good stuff

    Both of the new bottle style ECBPs are homeruns! And I’m not even a fan of the NAS EC! But, if going NAS on the EC means more BP offerings like these first two, I forgive Heaven Hill for ruining one of my favorite bourbons. I literally said, “wow” when I tasted each of them.

    Found 4 bottles on the shelf prices $40.95 at Freemans in OKC, it doesn’t happen often but sometimes being in Oklahoma is pretty cool!

    Elmer T. Lee is fantastic. Great bang for the buck. Should be allocated. Haven’t tried E.H.Taylor Four Grain… but would like to get my hands on one.

    I have to agree.

    I was lucky enough to get 4 bottles this time around and it’s the best ECBP I’ve had in recent memory.

    Unlike other limited release bourbons, this one doesn’t break the bank and isn’t TOO hard to find.

    If you see a bottle, grab one. Paid $59.99 here in GA.

    My favorite thing about this whiskey is it goes very well with ice during these scorching summer evenings where I am without losing character.

    I dropped in at Heaven Hill on drive back to Montreal from Memphis in June. They have a very entertaining un-tour with 5 tastings that included William HeavenHill 5t Edition 14 yr old – 115proof . (Be sure to book ahead.)

    At their boutique I purchased ECBP B for $75. (Note: you have to ask for it. They do not display it.)
    For 124 proof it is surprisingly not harsh. I’m a fan.

    Got one last night at Total Wine for $54.95 based on this write up by Blake. I have been an big fan of ECBP since Batch 2, and this one is the best one since then! Thanks for the heads up. Great bourbon and a great value.

    Thank you Blake and thank you HH for continuing this line and not raising prices. Raising my glass to you. Happy Friday fwllow Bourbr’s!

    Elmer T. is one great pour, and well priced. The 4 grain Taylor is on the shelf, unopened….might be the night for it….may have to make room on the shelf for Elijah…if I’m lucky enough…..thanks

    Picked up 3 bottles of batch B a few months ago, my local liquor store owner ordered for me per my request. Have always enjoyed ECBP’s, barrel proof, good age and great price point (trifecta)!!! With my beloved GTS getting more and more unreasonable (and not as good as previous years, ie: 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014) the ECBP and 4 Roses barrel proofs are go to’s!!

    Relieved my local store today of the two bottles they had of the ECBP; $49.99 each (before tax). Thank you, Blake. (Also keep up the good work with the “Bourbon Pursuit” podcast, big fan here.)

    Went out today and based on your notes picked up a bottle of ECBP. Opened and poured tonight. A true bourbon on the pallet. Some others may come out this year, but they will have to go some. Even with a splash of water this one makes you pay attention. Thanks for the heads up. Your honest reviews are always welcome.

    They have several bottles of the new bottle style ecbp and old bottle style at the store by me in NY but the want $100 plus tax. Worth it?

    I have spent a small fortune educating myself on the topic of BOURBON.
    I have been through many bottles. Some very expensive, some not so.
    I have narrowed down my absolute favorites to a few select bourbons that don’t break the bank.
    I have been drinking ECBP for the past 18 months and found it to be an amazing bang for the buck. I
    Liked the 139..4 proof but is a liver killer and let’s face it..ya can’t liver without your liver.
    This new 124.2 expression is almost unbelievable. I’m picking it up here and there for around $60. a bottle.
    I’m buying as much as I can find.
    This is the best balanced, finest blend of sweet wood, and all those other bourbon descriptives (I won’t bore you) without all the fumey alcohol getting in the way. It is one of the finest bourbons that I have come across. This will be selling for $200. a bottle next year so buy now.
    When you can find Willett 107, is another great bottle. And surprisingly, Old Forrester 1920 is also a great sip at 115 proof.

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