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This is a review of Elijah Craig 18 year old rye mashbill bourbon, single barrel # 2726, barreled 9-14-90. Elijah Craig is a brand distilled at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Elijah Craig was an actual historical preacher/distiller who has some mythos associated with his reputation, such as the invention of the use of charring of barrels for bourbon whiskey aging. In addition to the 18 year old single barrel expression there is also an Elijah Craig 12 year old bourbon.
Heaven Hill is a large family-owned independent distiller with many associated bourbon brands, including Evan Williams, Henry T. McKenna, Fighting Cock, Old Fitzgerald, and Parker's Heritage Collection. Heaven Hill ryes include the Rittenhouse line and Pikesville Supreme. Heaven Hill also sources whiskey to a large number of independent bottlers, who bottle product under their own brand labels.
Nose: Pleasant fragrant sweet maple, honey, rosewater,carnations, vanilla, and a little caramel. This is a delicious nose, and is quite similar to the nose of many of the best Willett Single Barrel bourbons.
Taste: Sweet, sharp, crisp well-defined sweet maple and oak. This is high-pitched and pleasant, not dull and heavy as long oak-aging can often be. Strong rye spice flavours develop and reveal themselves after about 4-6 seconds. The taste is piquant and well-defined, like a good cognac.
Finish: the flavours stay strong and long with all elements remaining until the end.
Balance: the balance between grain flavours and wood flavours, and also between sweet flavours and tart sour flavours, is excellent. I have had this bottle open for about 2 years, mainly because I like it so much that I don't want to see the end of it. In that time I have seen very little migration or shift in its flavours, compared to many other whiskies, and especially compared to many other bourbons, which often shift flavours quite a lot with an open bottle. The full desirable flavours from this whiskey were available from the first opening of the bottle. This is a single barrel product, so there will be variability between its flavours and that of the bottles of other individual barrels named Elijah Craig 18 yo. In 2005-2006 there was a lot of on-line chatter about some early bad bottles in this series. That was a long time ago and I have not encountered that problem with recent reports from others who have tried this whiskey. I would highly recommend this whiskey to anyone. It is one of the most elegant and refined bourbons I have encountered, and is also very good value for its usual price point.