Elijah Craig

Review: Elijah Craig Single Barrel for Kensington Wine Market (2019) by Jason Hambrey

Elijah+Craig+KWM+Single+Barrel.jpg
ABV
47%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
75% Corn; 13% Rye; 12% Malt
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

One of many single cask selections that Kensington Wine Market in Calgary does, but mostly Scotch – only a couple of bourbons are chosen. Barrel 5214622, warehouse F, floor 3, barrel 17 F.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Barrel 5214622

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Soft for an Elijah Criag, not quite as oaky as many. Sweet honey, roasted hazlenuts and pistachios and other mixed nuts, corn oil, tobacco, leather, maple, and even something a bit floral – like potpourri! Old musty oak too – I love that smell in a bourbon. A sweet, oaky palate which is fairly complex – with nuts, spices, and some orange all working well together. The finish is full of oaky caramel, honey – and a bit of earthiness too which is a very nice touch. Quite a nice finish – rich, complex, with decent length.

Oddly, lots of oak here but not very tannic. I’m a bit surprised; it makes it seem a bit lighter than it is.

I rate it very similarly, but I think I actually slightly prefer the official bottlings of Elijah Craig, as I do like the bigger oakiness in Elijah Craig – but I think this would appeal to those who like softer, less oaky bourbons. This showcases a different side of Elijah Craig stock.

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. In bourbons alone, it’s a bit below par.


Review: Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~65%
Aging
12 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
75% Corn; 13% Rye; 12% Malt
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

A (magnificent) cask strength version of the standard Elijah Craig...


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 12th Release; 64.0%

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Lots of oak on the nose – not surprising for a 12 year old bourbon. Very rich - lots of vanilla, furniture polish, apple, caramel, maple, and a slight bit of rocky mineral character. Very woody, and dry too. Also some sweet floral character – it sweetens with added water, but comes out more as a dried flower note on the nose. The nose itself is dry, but brings to mind a number of dry things – like potpourri. Dried orange, roasted macadamia nuts. Very enjoyable!

The palate has apple, oak char, and tannins creeping up – almost too much, but they’re not over the edge. Well balanced, and a good set of flavours. Loads of oak on the finish. A fabulous delivery, oily in feel (and lightly on the palate) – but restrained so it’s not overwhelming at 64%. Lots of tingly tannins on the finish, and some black tea.

Kentucky sure has some nice distilleries. Terrific stuff.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $112)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 5th Release (67.2%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nice and rich dark colour. I’ve been tasting a Blanton’s straight from the barrel beside this one and it definitely pales in comparison. Nutty, oaky, and full of spice. Light fruit, gooseberry, spices, cacao, smoky wood char. The corn is just brilliant! Oak is supreme on the finish. It is a bit hot, but not very – it has an incredible feel and the balance at cask strength is terrific – sweet, oaky, spicy, and rich. The palate is oaky and rich, packed with fruit ranging from strawberries to apples – dried, jam, and fresh. The corn has just a terrific showing in this – it is wonderfully embraced by the spice, fruit, and oak. What a palate!  Beautiful oak on the finish, which is a touch creamy too. Praline and hazelnut cream too. A terrific Elijah Craig.

Immensely enjoyable. I think bookers lovers might find this quite appealing – but it is richer and rounder – for good effect. But, yes, quite oaky too, but not overdone.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: High (based on $113)


Review: Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
47%
Aging
12 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
75% Corn; 13% Rye; 12% Barley
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

This whiskey is distilled at Heaven Hill, named after Rev. Elijah Craig who, according to Heaven Hill, became the first to age his whiskey in charred oak barrels. A lot of the whiskies at Heaven Hill are frankly good value, and the whiskies are often well aged – in an age where whiskey is booming so much that everyone is pulling out younger product because of demand. Also, much of the product comes at quite reasonably price too. Part of the reason they do this is because they produce so much other product (vodka, tequila, cream liquers, rums….), so they don’t need their whiskey to make all their money.

It goes into the barrel at 62.5% before aging. This says that it is a true “small batch” bourbon, which is a bit strange given the availability of the bourbon – it isn’t that “small” (of course many substantial producers do this). However, I believe about 40-50 barrels go into a batch, so they’re not dumping everything into the batch. But that’s still over 6000 bottles per batch assuming 5% loss of product through evaporation per year….


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code" N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

Nose: For a 12 year old bourbon, I expected more oak, especially with the dark color of the product. A lot of corn comes through the nose, along with hints of rye, coconut, and buttery vanilla. There are a few light fruits of a berry character, along with plums, apricot, cherry, some oak spiciness, and some of the earthy and nutty notes of pumpkin. The actual smell of the oak is present, but it certainly doesn’t dominate – and it carries a bit of a rich, earthy feel which remind me of the older El Dorado rums, if you’ve ever tasted those. Also, it still has a nice creaminess and elegance to it.

Taste: A lot of oak on the palate compared to the nose. Light, seemingly fresh dried and charred oak, brown sugar, stewed plums, and a bit of earthiness which I find a bit characteristic of Heaven Hill – and love. It has a nice spicy thread to it as well which I quite enjoy – and there’s a nice cinnamon bite to it at the end which is quite fantastic.

Finish: Some tobacco, oak, cherries, oaky and mossy earthiness, a bit of orange, and even a few herbal influences and some yeast. It’s quite interesting because of the mix of the creaminess, oak, fruit, and spice – especially because the creamy element is something I notice more on the finish than anywhere else. The tingly spice element is quite nice – and I find cloves are beautifully present. The feel and volume is quite nice…there’s a bit of bitterness which detracts a bit, unfortunately.

I really like the way that oak does its work at Heaven Hill. It gives what I find to be really nice earthy undertones in its oaky influence, and I find these very enjoyable. It’s almost mystical how location affects aging – you could put the same barrel of whisky at Heaven Hill, and another at Buffalo Trace – and you’d get very different whiskies. Having visited many of the distilleries in Kentucky twice, it’s also interesting to have the smells and tastes of the whiskies actually remind you of the warehouses themselves that you visited. This is very good value and I highly recommend.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High (based on $48)