Hyper-aged bourbon is a polarizing subject. One could say the same of whiskey in general, but when it comes to the $150 Elijah Craig 18, it’s generally love it or hate it. Sadly, once secondary market values are factored in, the divide seems moot. Oh well. Time to weigh in!
Pour: Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel
Age: 18 years
Nose: fragrant oak, cedar, spiced apple
Taste: woody vanilla bean, savory caramel, antique leather
Finish: moderate length w/ charred oak, tobacco, earthy spice
Overall: Granted, it’s a single-barrel expression, so there will be variance, but damn if this Elijah Craig 18 isn’t tasty. It’s an oak bomb, however, and far from subtle. But in this case there’s just enough sweetness to balance out the woodiness.
Rating: Oaky dokie.
Elijah Craig is one of the few bourbons I can think of that immediately improved after its age statement was dropped. Some may disagree, but that’s the way I see it. I was never a fan of the 12-year iteration – a rather woody, mildly tannic pour. As for its successor …
Pour: Elijah Craig Small Batch
Age: at least 4 years (reportedly 8-12 years)
Nose: vanilla, honey-butter, orange peel
Taste: salted caramel, sweet oak, butter toffee
Finish: moderate length – buttered cornbread, peppery spice
Overall: Remarkably solid. I’m sure I’ve recommended other bottles as “starter bourbons,” but I’m beginning to think Elijah Craig is best suited for the task. Not that it should encompass a single role. It’s just damn good mellow whiskey for $27.
Rating: Butter than ever.
My experience with toasted-oak whiskey is rather limited, but generally speaking I’m not the biggest fan. I am, however, a fan of staying open minded. So, when I saw Elijah Craig’s latest special release, a straight bourbon touting a toasted-barrel finish, I rolled the dice.
Pour: Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon
Age: at least 4 years
Color: rosy copper
Nose: French toast, densely sweet oak, ripe plum
Taste: roasted marshmallow, brown sugar, caramel chews
Finish: moderate length – vanilla bean, tobacco, black licorice
Overall: Look, I’ll admit, this bourbon isn’t for everyone. But, for those seeking a uniquely sweet and dessert-like whiskey without a cloying or artificial quality, Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon is right up your alley. For $50, I’m satisfied.
Rating: Sweet success.
They say it’s one of the best values on the market today. They’re not wrong. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is a full-barrel-strength, 12-year Kentucky bourbon behemoth typically found for $70 (often less). Impressive? Damn right. But how does it taste? Funny you should ask …
Pour: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C920
Age: 12 years
Color: dense rosy copper
Nose: rich molasses, vanilla bean, heavily steeped black tea
Taste: burnt brown sugar, sweet charred oak, peppery toffee
Finish: chocolate caramel corn, thick honey-maple, tobacco, sassafras
Overall: Wow. While I’m not as well-versed with ECBP as others, I’ve had my share. Batch C920 is no slouch. No ma’am, no sir. Notable maturity, intense complexity (doesn’t hurt to add water), and balanced in spite of it all. Y’all still chasing Geo. T. Stagg?