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Elijah Craig bourbon is named in honor of (wait for it) Reverend Elijah Craig (shocking, I know), who was a Baptist preacher and entrepreneur in what was Virginia, circa 1789. Kentucky gained statehood in 1792, and it also gained the Virginia county where the Reverend Craig lived and operated his distillery. Heaven Hill credits Rev. Elijah Craig with the invention of "true Kentucky Bourbon". Craig allegedly did this by improving the locally made un-aged corn liquor through barrel-aging in charred oak casks. Now I'm not sure if the story is true or not, but every liquor needs a story, I suppose. This used to be sold with a 12 Year age statement, but the bourbon boom dwindled stocks faster than Heaven Hill could replenish them. I've had mixed opinions on the No Age Statement version of this bourbon. For those who are interested, the mash bill is rumoured to be 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12 % malted barley.
Neat from a Libby Kentucky Boubron Glass
- Nose: wood varnish, vanilla, brown sugar, raisins, a hint of citrus
- Palate: light bodied, oak, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, a touch of cherries
- Finish: on the short side, with some black tea, oak, vanilla, and raisins. There isn't anything wrong with this bourbon per se, but it's not all that exciting to be honest. At the risk of being that guy, Elijah Craig retails for $50 here in Ontario whereas Wild Turkey 101 can be had for $10 less and is a better bourbon to my palate. Wild Turkey has more depth, more complexity, and is a more interesting bourbon in my opinion. Of course, a lot of people would likely disagree. Elijah Craig seems close to what most people might consider a "standard" bourbon profile, with no real funk to speak of. If you're looking for a social bourbon you can sip without thinking or obsessing over, this might be your game. It's also a bourbon that plays nicely with other ingredients in a cocktail. Judging this on aroma, taste and texture alone, Elijah Craig Small Batch deserves a mark that is slightly above average.