Summer 2022 is pretty much behind us. In the whiskeys world, that means the whiskey drops are about to start hitting at a nearly non-stop pace. One of the biggest signs that the fall whiskey season is here are two releases from Heaven Hill Distillery out in Bardstown, Kentucky — the final 2022 releases of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and Larceny Barrel Proof.
Every year, Heaven Hill releases three barrel-proof interactions of both their Larceny and Elijah Craig whiskeys. The first ones arrive in late winter, then another set comes in early spring. Finally, the last duo tends to arrive just as summer closes and the spiders start spinning their webs. The whiskeys are the ultimate sign that it’s time to dust off the rake and pour some strong whiskey.
Below, I’ll review each barrel-proof edition so you can decide which one you’re going to stock up on as the leaves start piling up. For the most part, these will be a little harder to find but not impossible. And while these run around $69 MSRP, you will find a few markups here and there — but these bottles rarely go over $100-$120 on the aftermarket. In short, we’re talking about great whiskey that you can both find (with a little effort), afford, and enjoy right now.
Okay, let’s dive into what’s actually in these bottles.
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Larceny Barrel Proof Batch no. C922
Average Price: $102
This is the last (of three) Larceny Barrel Proof releases of 2022. The juice is a classic wheated bourbon — 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley. This bourbon was aged for six to eight years before small-batch vatting and bottling as-is, creating 2022’s highest ABV release from the brand.
This pour opens with a hint of soft leather next to raisins, sour grapes, a dash of apple fritter with plenty of cinnamon, and a mild sense of dried red currants. The palate hits with an ABV buzz (kind of like the numbness you get from wasabi without the taste at all) before soft vanilla creaminess calms everything down toward berry jams with cinnamon and clove next to a light buttermilk biscuit with a hint of dry sweetgrass lurking under it all. The end softly lands on a dried prune/date/raisin finish with a twinge of tartness and a light sense of cedar-laced tobacco just touched with cardamon and vanilla.
This is a solid pour with a hell of a kick. It’ll clear your sinuses. But it’s so much more than that. There’s a real depth of flavor under that heat that’s classic and rewarding.
My recommendation, pour this over a rock or two to cool it down and let those deeper flavors bloom. Or mix this into your next Manhattan and enjoy a spicy and creamy ride.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch no. C922
Average Price: $120
The last Elijah Craigh of 2022 is also the highest-proof release this year. The whiskey is made from a very low rye bourbon mash bill of 78 percent corn, ten percent rye, and 12 percent malted barley. That juice then ages for at least 12 years before the barrels are vatted in very small batches and bottled without proofing or filtration.
The nose opens with a deep leatheriness with a bright line of green hatch chilis next to a warm sense of dry powdered dark chocolate and dried sour cherries with an underlying dry earthiness and this tiny whisper of sourdough starter. The palate opens with a hint of peach before kicking in some serious ABV buzziness and heat and then quickly rollercoastering down toward cinnamon and clove-laced dark chocolate, dark caramel, apple chips soaked in root beer, and a hint of clove and orange. The end has a mild sense of dry sweetgrass and plenty of heat that gives way to an echo of that cinnamon and dark chocolate with a smidge of smoldering cacao husks and cinnamon bark.
This is so interesting. I was not expecting dark chocolate, chili, and cinnamon to be such a driving force. This is night-and-day from the classic vibes of this year’s first Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, which was a stone-cold classic bourbon. This is dirty and earthy, spicy and dark, deep and kind of haunting — a great and unique whiskey.
Which to Buy?
I really thought I’d be recommending you chase down that Larceny. I just didn’t think the good folks at Elijah Craig could beat the A122 Barrel Proof from January. And I do really like the Larceny. It’s so much fruitier and woodier with a nice balance of heat and flavor. But it feels a tad hotter and I definitely was thinking about rocks and cocktails while sipping it.
With the new Elijah Craig, I wasn’t thinking about anything but finding more nuance and depth in that glass in my hand. I can see folks not digging this at all thanks to the dark earthy notes and spiced chocolate vibe — it’s not your average bourbon. But, wow, this stuff is a delightful departure from the norm that takes you on a journey and really tastes like something special.
So, if you’re spending $70 to $90 on one of these Barrel Proof bourbons this fall, I have to say, go with the Elijah Craig. It’s too unique and delicious not to try.