Elijah Craig B518 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


This article was originally published on September 24, 2018, at Bourbon & Banter. 


  • 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 regular 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 and 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; instead, when I see a new incarnation, I get excited and 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, whether barrel-proof or not. Giving it a swirl in the glass left a fragile 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 was texture to go with it.


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


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







My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.