The Elijah Craig review
Company: Heaven Hill
Age: 12 years
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
Price: c. £36
For some the Virginian, Reverend Elijah Craig, was the inventor of bourbon as we know it today. The claim is that he was the first to age the distillation in ‘charred’ oak barrels, thus giving the spirit its now renowned colour and unique taste. The accidental charring of the oak barrels was the consequence of a warehouse fire and now hey presto; people are burning those barrels deliberately! Whether you believe it or not (personally we don't) its a great story.
Distilled in the Heaven Hill Bernheim distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, the Elijah Craig 12-year-old small batch bourbon has been around since 1986. In early 2016 Heaven Hill announced that, due to the domestic and international surge in bourbon popularity, they would now be unable to continue producing this 12-year-old bourbon. It was to be replaced by a small batch no age statement product containing bourbon between the ages of 8 and 12 years.
Another justification for this move was that it would also allow an increase in their barrel proof and single barrel offerings. A social media backlash ensued and bourbon fans fear that many other popular age statement bourbons will also fall by the wayside for the same reasons. Around the same time, a new bottle design was also revealed. Rather than the shorter stumpy original, it would now be a taller, thinner more elegantly designed vessel.
If you shop around the UK, you can still easily find the 12 year age statement bottle (with 2 different label designs) but we’re sure it won’t be too much longer before this will not be the case.
For this review, we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass
What we got – Toasty oak, caramel and creamy, warm baked apple pie, brown sugar sweetness
What they say we should get - Quite thick and full. There is a beautiful sweetness with notes of toasty oak, toffee, spicy stewed fruits, a touch of resin and a lovely crème anglaise character
What we got – An explosion of intense spice which lingers for ages, after settling for a while this changes to creamy taste on the tongue with an extremely oak laded flavour
What they say we should get - Full and sublimely smooth with notes if stewed Bramley apples, malmsey, and a touch of aniseed and a hint of spice
What we got – Medium dry finish. Those spices hang around for quite a while.
What they say we should get - Good length with toasty oak notes and a creamy sweetness
This bottle is probably the oldest in the Gents collection, incredibly tight cork stopper but not too much juice left inside. An interesting comparison we would like to try as soon as we can, is to taste this 12-year bottle alongside the newer no age statement version.
Our tasting notes compare favourably with the experts particularly surrounding the creaminess, oakiness, and sweetness of the bourbon. For our taste buds, the spiciness was much more prevalent than declared by our knowledgeable peers.
The Gents highly recommend this bourbon for the beginner who wishes to the push the boat out a little further and try something one or two rungs up on the pricing ladder. You will not be disappointed. Grab those 12-year-old bottles whilst you still can.
6 out of 10 - Mav
7 out of 10 – Mr. Pie