Let's start with the petty stuff. The wax used on this bottle is annoying. It is hard almost plastic like and difficult to remove. Beneath this wax is... a screw top. Really?? Don't get me wrong, I am good with screw tops, but then lose the wax.
The rich dark honey brown color is beautiful. The nose has a definite alcohol part, but not anything more than you expect from something of this proof. There is hints of something sweet, as well as vanilla and just a hint a caramel.
Mouth feel is a little thin, but the taste isn't. Black pepper, clove and just a hint of wintergreen mint is what you notice first before it settles in with some corn flavors mixed with rye and finally a very strong wood flavor comes on and the wood ultimately dominates your senses.
Finish is long with more rye taste and more woody flavor, almost pulp like and just a bit of sweetness and mint. Not at all hot, as a matter fact it was surprisingly soft for something of this proof.
A dash of water doesn't hurt and actually helps bring out some more flavor. However, add too much water, or add ice and you lose most everything but the taste of wood and alcohol.
Overall, it is a good pour, but there is just a little something keeps me from saying great.
There seems to be a LOT of variation in this brand. The bottle I had was rather corny and hot showing little of its age. Not bad, but certainly not worth the $35 I paid for it.
I think I amleaning towards agreeing with you in it not being worth the price. There is just something there that bugs me, and I can't quite puy my finger on it. On one hand, there is definitely a lot of wood in the taste, but it doesn't taste as "old" as I would expect it. In that regard it almost reminds me of Devil's Cut.
Then there is that toothpaste-ish mintiness to it. It was that minty taste that turned me off to Heaven Hill, but the wood flavors help in this case keep it more subdued and in the background. So it makes seem almost like am Evan Williams version of Devil's Cut. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing... But not for $35 a bottle.
As I ponder the possibility that this is a Heaven Hill distillate, I must ask for those that may have had both... How does the Pure Kentucky XO compare with Elijah Craig 12 Year old? Is it just a higher proof expression of the same whiskey?
I have to agree with most on this thread. This bourbon just isn't for me. It is too woody and has too much spice for my pallet especially since I'm a wheater fan. This bourbon has now been moved to the kitchen cabinet to be used to cook with. JayMonster I would say hands down that the EC 12 is better than the PK XO.