There’s a sense of static in the air these past few weeks of quarantine. Not of any sense of normal but certainly of familiarity. A sense of sameness and of the world outside the familiar walls drifting away. But also there’s that electrical charge like anything can and could happen at any moment.
It is a way to help keep my sanity. Beyond it being something from the Great Before that I enjoyed it’s also been an avenue for self reflection and rumination.
It’s mental travel.
Placing myself in the place, time, and person that I was when this bottle joined the collection. No spirit allows me to check in with myself and chart my trajectory more than Elijah Craig.
Elijah Craig 12 Year Bourbon was my first true Bourbon love. I’m not going to say that it “got me into whiskey” but it certainly helped expand my understanding of what good Bourbon could be. When I started buying barrels for my program Elijah Craig was the first barrel I bought. And I kept buying barrels. Even after the aged statement was dropped. It is a benchmark Bourbon and the numerous barrels arriving over the years have given me an excuse to examine the years as they pass.
But as time goes on and the age has changed and after so many barrel selections I forgot what old school Elijah tasted like. Was it inflated in my mind? Was the memory of who I was when I discovered it altering the actual liquid? Am I drinking nostalgia flavored whiskey?
So how fortunate was I to discover a bottle of standard issue Elijah Craig 12 Year Old from 2012 hiding in my closet. This bottle is from when my career shifted from being a bartender to a Bar Manager and when so many of my early influences and opinions crystallized. Here is a liquid opportunity to examine the past.
NOSE: Caramel, Oak, Apricot, Tilled Soil
PALETE: Toffee, Vanilla, Baked Apples, Baking Spices, Earthy and Deep
FINISH: Long, clean, spicy with a hint of white pepper. Drying to a lingering woodyness
This dram is deep and powerful. It is what I have idolized for years. While the NAS Elijah Craig is a very good Bourbon this old 12 Year has a maturity, for lack of a better word, that its descendant does not.
And while the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases are still 12 Years old the much higher proof gives an edge that here is softer and more nuanced.
This is a dram for deep thoughts and late night conversations. It’s also a perfect example that things don’t stay static forever. Eventually all things change.