Store Picks: Elijah Craig Small Batch, Market Square Liquors, Tallahassee, Florida
As a bourbon blogger, one of my favorite things is reviewing private barrel selections. I absolutely love spending time with a good bourbon, trying to analyze the flavor profile and identify all of the complex nuances that develop from barrel to barrel. This is especially true for a bourbon like the Elijah Craig Small Batch, one of my go-to bottles.
For this article, I am going to focus on the nuances of this barrel selection from Market Square Liquors in my home town of Tallahassee, Florida, but to begin let me say a few things about ECSB generally. I typically turn to this bottle because for me it is a lower-proof bourbon (94 proof, 47% abv) that is very easy-drinking and that provides a complex profile that is not too challenging. On the nose I usually find that this bourbon is soft, with some nutty notes, baking spice, and a mild sweetness, but I find that the sweetness doesn’t really transfer onto the palate. Instead you are greeted with a warm, smoky profile with layers of baking spice and oak. The mouthfeel is pleasant and the sip culminates in a medium-long finish with layers of spice and a very subtle sweetness. This bourbon is wonderful neat, but because it is not too complex I think it also works well in cocktails, particularly an old-fashioned.
Pick Information - This single barrel bourbon was selected by the barrel team at Market Square Liquors in Tallahassee, Florida in August 2018. This selection comes from barrel number 5575204 and was aged for 9 years in rick number 15, floor 9, warehouse D. As always, this ECSB comes in at 94 proof (47% abv).
Color – light copper.
Nose – the nose is similar to the traditional ECSB but there are some subtle differences. There is the usual soft sweetness on the nose that reminds me of sweet vanilla bean and dark brown sugar, but there were also some additional sweet notes of fresh ginger. The nose is also filled with plenty of baking spice, particularly cinnamon, nutmeg, and light clove, that blend seamlessly with the soft oak undertones. With time I did find some nutty notes and the sweetness became more pronounced.
Palate – this bourbon left the usual ECSB mouthfeel; it is not too thin but it is also not too oily. There is minimal alcohol burn but this bourbon is spicy right from the start. The baking spice translates onto the palate, but there is a sharp, spicy cinnamon (think red hot candies) that really stands out and dominates the taste. While I am not usually a fan of heavy cinnamon, it is not overpowering here and it blends nicely with the other spice notes. The smoky oak notes also linger throughout the sip.
Finish – the finish is medium long and the spicy cinnamon continues on the finish, creating a somewhat dry but pleasant mouthfeel. As the spiciness slowly starts to fade, I was left with more baking spice (mainly nutmeg and some allspice), vanilla, and toasted oak. Perhaps the most surprising note on the finish was a very subtle peppery sweetness, reminiscent of candied ginger, that rounded out the pour.
Overall –When I have the opportunity to taste a barrel selection, I am looking for uniqueness. I want to taste something that really stands out from a standard release, and that provides a little bit of a challenge. That is exactly what you get with this barrel selection. This bottle has the characteristics of ECSB that I always enjoy, but the additional complexity in the spice notes really presented a fun challenge. As I mentioned, I am not usually a fan of heavy cinnamon but I really enjoyed this flavor in this selection, as it balanced nicely with the other baking spices and general smoky profile. The candied ginger on the finish was also a pleasant surprise.
If you are in the Big Bend area, I highly recommend stopping by Market Square Liquors for this barrel selection. You can browse the HUGE selection of bourbon, including numerous single barrel selections, at Market Square Liquors located at 1415 Timberlane Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32312, or stop by the Lounge next door to the store for the best selection of bourbon in the Big Bend! You can also follow them on Instagram @marketsquareliquor or on Facebook at @MSLiquors.