Lo and behold, just as I'm thinking about getting more bourbon notes on to my rebooted blog Day 4 of the Whisky Advent Calendar delivers unto me an Elijah Craig, Small Batch 12 Year Old. I have a bottle of this in my own collection so I might have to explore batch differences a little later.
If, like me, you're more familiar with Scotch naming (it's the distillery front and center and then a brand name or age statement) and wonder how brand names connect to distilleries in the US I found the image below incredibly helpful (click on it to bigify):
So, as you can see, Elijah Craig hails from the Heaven Hill distillery in Kentucky and is a bourbon whiskey made according to their rye mash bill. By law, American bourbon must be made from a mash bill that's at least 51% corn. In this case, we're dealing with 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. While providing some flavor the malted barley is used for its diastatic power (its enzymatic activity is such that it can do much of the heavy lifting in converting starch to fermentable sugars).
Behind window #4: Elijah Craig, Small Batch 12 Year Old, 47% alc., £27/$41 (<$30 in the US)
C: Deep bronze
N: Big burst of corn sweetness with beautiful woody vanilla and just a hint of herbaceous dill (from the rye) around the edges
P:Good texture, rye spice leads the way with sweeter corn behind that, more dill presence than on the nose followed by aniseed, vanilla, leather, and wood resin
F: Long and spicy with lingering sweetness for balance, some pepper, dark cherry and abundant vanilla
In conclusion: With bourbon, what you get on the nose tends to be what you get on the palate and into the finish. Which is fine. Sometimes, however, you go on a bit of a journey with different notes rising and falling as you move through the layers. Here, the big burst of corn on the nose subsides on the palate allowing that hint of rye on the nose to come to the fore on the palate. A damn fine whiskey!
If you'd like to read a damn fine book that cuts to the chase about bourbon I highly recommend Fred Minnick's Bourbon Curious that was published this year. (I'm hoping to get a review on the blog sometime in the not-too-distant future.)
Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.