Nose - On the first quick whiff you get a light scent of cereal. Taking a long deep breath pulls out a luscious smell of raisins and dried fruit. Subtle hints of allspice dance in the background but this bourbon knows what it’s doing. There are no harsh alcohol smells at all. This is bourbon that’s sat around for a while and when it came out of the barrel, it came out with an air of dignity to it. Elijah Craig 21 Year (EC 21) isn’t the young guy in the room who wants to pummel your nose with a non-stop bombardment of smells. No, this is a bourbon that knows it’s good, and only after spending time with it will you start to appreciate the subtleness it holds.
However, adding 5-6 drops of water to this bourbon instantly brings out additional smells. Lush deep smells of maraschino cherries, vanilla, and a hint of caramel and raisins come rushing at you. I couldn’t stop smelling this bourbon after adding water. I could have sat all night just inhaling that deep intoxicating smell.
Finish - EC 21 hangs around on your taste buds for dear life as this finish just lasts and lasts and lasts. Just when you thought it’s done, it rears right back at you with a lingering woody taste still, but added to it is subtle hints of allspice and nut.
After adding water that finish gets more subtle and less woody. Suddenly subtle tastes of flavors start morphing from one to another. Light ginger, the crispness of a first bite of a fresh snap pea, cotton candy, cinnamon apples, caramel all keep morphing from one to another. In the end though, it comes back to a delicious nonstop lingering dried fruit flavor. You’ll want to take long pauses and play with this bourbon as all of these flavors keep developing.