Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B518 Review Header

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B518 Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Jeffrey Schwartz10 Comments


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"It is a mouth-filling, deeply satisfying whiskey, amazingly palatable even at full proof, that will delight many drinkers at a great price—virtues we can all agree on."

– Jeffery Lindenmuth, Whisky Advocate
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Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B518


  • DISTILLER: Heaven Hill
  • MASH BILL: 78% Corn | 10% Rye | 12% Malted Barley
  • AGE: 12 Years.
  • YEAR: 2018
  • PROOF: 133.4 (66.7% ABV)
  • MSRP: $59.00

NOSE: Caramel  |   Oak  |   Vanilla

TASTE: Vanilla  |  Pepper  |  Caramel  |  Buttercream Frosting

FINISH: Considering the proof, this had much less burn than anyone would expect.

SHARE WITH: Folks who enjoy an iconic barrel proof Bourbon and aren’t afraid of whiskeys lovingly referred to as hazmat.

WORTH THE PRICE: The normal price in my market is $69.99. I would pay that all day long for this bottle.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Last year B517 won “Whiskey of the Year” by Whisky Advocate. I enjoyed that tremendously, but didn’t think it deserved the title. B518 blows B517 out of the water. This has a unique quality I’ve not experienced in a whiskey before. I bought a bottle was glad I did, and I recommend you do, too.

OVERALL: I’m going to start this off by saying I’m a sucker for Elijah Craig. This doesn’t mean that any of the various expressions get a free pass from me, rather, it means when I see a new incarnation, I get excited and will buy a bottle untasted. When reviewing it, I give it the same unbiased opportunity for Bottle, Bar or Bust as I do with anything else. There have been a couple of unimpressive releases in the barrel proof versions.

The appearance in the glass was a deep, rich brown. That’s very typical of Elijah Craig as a whole, barrel proof or not. Giving it a swirl in the glass left a very thin rim that produced fat, fast legs. But, the rim itself stuck like glue.

Holding the lip of the glass to my chin gave the familiar aromas of caramel and oak. At mouth level oak and vanilla.  Letting it hover just under the nostrils brought vanilla.  When I inhaled through my mouth, it created a vanilla bomb.

The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. It felt heavy. I don’t recall another whiskey carrying this much weight in my mouth. Vanilla and pepper hit the front of the palate hard. The vanilla then caramelized on the mid-palate, which gave way to buttercream frosting. Part of that was butter, but there is texture to go with it.

At 133.4°, you’d expect it to set your mouth afire. That didn’t really happen, although it did make my mouth numb and tingly. But, there’s no real burn.

This may be the best Elijah Craig Barrel Proof release that I’ve tasted yet. If you liked last year’s mid-year release, B518 eclipses that, and the comparison isn’t even close.

Here are a few other Elijah Craig reviews you might be interested in:

Learn more about Jeff’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

About the Author
Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz

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Known throughout Wisconsin (and now the world) as Whiskeyfellow, Jeff was a late-bloomer to the Wonderful World of Whiskey. At the suggestion of his wife, he started with Scotch and was hooked. He was under the impression that he was happy. A friend asked him several times to try Bourbon, and he eventually gave in, only to fall completely in love with it. Those first steps started him on his #DrinkCurious adventure that led him to #RespectTheBottomShelf. Jeff now relishes many types of whiskeys, ranging from the super-affordable to the super-premium and everything in between. Aside from simply sipping and writing about it, Jeff now enjoys spreading the whiskey gospel by hosting educational tasting events. Read Jeff's full profile.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    Like your review of B518 batch. Read it this morning and happen to spot a E.C. B518 bottle at my grocery store’s liqueur department. Grabbed it and tried it as soon as I got home. Your review was close to my experience, though didn’t get the butter cream. Thanks for the suggestion. BTW, cost was $64.94. Cheaper that the Oceans 13 I picked up a month ago, and enjoyed much more!

  2. Avatar

    I am a sucker for the EC products as well. I have a good friend that I share a drink with on a regular basis and we refer to it as “going to see the preacher to get some religion”. Our wives just give us an eye roll when we do this.

    I have found that high proof bourbons can drink like a lower proof if it is well made.

  3. Avatar

    I have tried batch a117,b517,c917 and b518 I have had 2 bottles of the 517 and 917 and this is how I rank them number 1 b517 and not because of all the reviews about it being whiskey of the year,I was all over this before the first review came out.number two would be c917,number three a117 and my number 4 would be the b518 as there is just too much alcohol overpowering it for me to enjoy it,I’ve tried various amount of water and it’s been open for 2 months and it just doesn’t work for me.

  4. Avatar

    Great review Jeff. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on how this compares to the C918. A lot of people are saying the “9” is the best ECBP of 2018. While I understand taste is subjective, most of the time I tend to agree with the ‘experts’ on what’s good and bad. Thanks.

  5. Avatar

    How do you tell which B batch you have? I looked on bottle and label and did not see it. My bottle is from 2016.

  6. Avatar

    Just found a bottle of this at a liquor store that’s small and off the beaten path. Picked it up for $45 talk about a steal!

  7. Avatar

    C918 absolutely, B518 as great, A117 wasn’t as good as B518. B517 haven’t tried-or bought one yet.
    C918 is just Fantastic, so far my absolute favorite. I picked up 6 not to sell ever but to enjoy watching sunsets. I’m down to 4 and can’t find another local.

  8. Avatar

    I realize it’s a little bit late to the party on this one but I just picked up a bottle of the B518 at a local joint tonight. I’ve had 2-3 bottles of the old format ECBP releases (including the Batch #6 “Hazmat” batch (70.1%/140.2 proof) as well as a bottle of the A118 and a pour of the C118.

    I am usually opposed to reviewing a whiskey on the first session but I gotta’ say that the ECBP 0518 is VERY impressive. Granted I iced it with a king cube (extra large ice cube, “set phaser to stun”), then removed it to avoid overdilution. I then carefully added cold water little by little until there was no burn on the nose and not too hot on the palate. Having stated my methodology this is probably my favorite ECBP Batch to date. Way easier to appreciate right out of the gate than the Hazmat batch. Big on the Red Hots/Cinnamon Candy, big on the Cherry flavor (a flavor I do miss in the modern Elijah Craig Small Batch as opposed to the old 12 Year), spicy but elegant notes of antique, varnished wood.

    How good is it really? Well, I suppose that depends on your own personal preferences but it compares favorably with the Old Fitzgerald 11 Year ($115 MSRP, considerably higher in the real world). In fact, if I tasted it blind I might think it was a wheater like Old Fitz. Do I recommend that you buy it if you see it in the wild at anywhere near MSRP? Absolutely!

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