Binny’s Hand Picked Elijah Craig 18 Year Old

   There’s a brand new batch of Binny’s Hand Picked Elijah Craig 18 Year Old on the way. For those in the know, this is an understated value, a great example of what happenswhen an already solid bourbon sees just short of two decades in wood. Joe M. and I tasted through these samples hoping to find two barrels for single barrel bottling.

   Our reference sample is from a previous Binny’s bottling, and is classic Elijah Craig 18: A complex and dry nose with notes of molasses, touches of eucalyptus, dried cherry and sawdust. EC18 shows its 18 years of wood aging, along with a spicy,herbal character with dried fruit. It’s bottled at 90 proof, important to remember when tasting barrel samples at variable andsometimes bruising barrel proof.

 

3160518 X-Warehouse 2nd Floor, 123.8 proof

   Or first sample, we’ll call it 518, seems way more fresh and youthful than the reference, at least on the nose. There’s more fresh green herb, more eucalyptus. But that changes on the palate. The dry wood is there. The alcohol is up front almost immediately, and behind that is more caramel, citrus, berry fruit, and even more wood. I like this right away.

 

3164313 X-Warehouse 4th Floor, 141.8 proof

   The nose on 313 is pretty much right on target, if more dry, with autumnal notes like dried leaves and dried fruit. On the palate, its crushing alcohol is just too overwhelming to taste anything else of meaning. We add some water. “Just awee bit” Joe explains, saying “you can always add more, but it’s a bitch to pull out.” Water opens it up so it shows roundsweetness and a wonderfully thick texture, but all the nuance is gone. The angels were too greedy.

 

3164680 X-Warehouse 2nd Floor, 119.7 proof

   680 is perhaps the most typical. On the nose, molasses (yes!) and some sawdust and tea leaves. It’s hard on the palate, spicy and woody, with a strong baking spice similar to cinnamon but not quite, and is framed in caramel. I like this one the most for the great molasses character.

 

   Now Joe and I compare notes. My favorite is 680 for its characteristic molasses and baking spice, and 518 in a close second. Joe likes the 518 for its eucalyptus and freshness and balance (correct me if I’m wrong, Joe). My notes here make these two seem like opposites, but they’re really only opposites within the profile of EC18. Both are a good representation of what the 18 is all about. We also agree that the 141.8 proof 313 is interesting, but just outside of the profile we’re looking for.

   Expect both the 680 and 518 to hit Binny’s shelves as single barrel Binny’s Hand Picked bottlings. The turnaround on these purchases is a little unpredictable, but we’re guessing that they’ll arrive in a couple more weeks. As usual, we don’t have control over which bottlings are sent to which stores (a side effect of the three tiered distribution system). So … you know … it can turn into a fun treasure hunt for anybody looking to try a specific Elijah Craig 18, or both.

8 thoughts on “Binny’s Hand Picked Elijah Craig 18 Year Old

  1. I really like your descriptions. They are concise, clear, and not pretentious like most whiskey reviews.It seems like the 4th floor was too high (and hot) for that long of aging. The two you have chosen sound lovely!

  2. Do you have fill and dump dates? is it still in the barrel until you choose it – or is it in some holding tank?

  3. Duff – Thanks, man. Hope you like the whiskey.David – Click on the image of the samples for a better view. There’s a serial number but not the actual barrel number. The date on the labels is when the samples were pulled. We’ll have more info as soon as the bottles arrive. The whiskey stays in the barrel until bottling, so I guess we get another month or so on those 18 years.

  4. Thanks for doing this write-up. I really appreciate a glimpse into the selection process. I know Joe and trust his instincts and palate so I’m sure these both are great. I just got one — at least I assume it is one, as the font saying “Hand Picked by Binny’s” … etc. is different than on prior Binny’s EC 18 bottles. Mine is barrel 3661. I would assume it’s the 518, but if y’all can say which barrel # corresponds to which of the above samples, I’d sure appreciate it.

  5. We don’t really know which bottling is from which sample until we get the actual wood. We do know that this bottling is actually a 21 year old, barrelled on 4/2/1990.

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