Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Note: Product has come from a private collection and as such has some minor scuffing/scratches/handling marks. Actual product pictured.
One of the oldest single barrel Bourbons in the world, with two-thirds of the original production lost to the “angel’s share.” The remainder is reserved for Master Distillers, Parker and Craig Beam to decant off one barrel at a time as an annual release. We received a 30ml sample. Mild shellac dissipates after a minute or two revealing a bouquet of grilled corn and roasted nuts followed by nuances of potpourri, vanilla and clove. It's a terrific Bourbon sniff that retains its freshness with a hint of spearmint. A soft entry builds into a perfectly balanced flavour harmony that's classically Bourbon sweet before a rye-like influence takes hold. The finish is noticeably drier and spicier, but the length is fabulous. Few barrels make it to 18 years in the Bourbon world. This one is up there with some of the best. Tasted in 2012. No barrel number was noted, so the notes are indicative only. 45% Alc./Vol. The bottling now available was barreled in 1989 and drawn from barrel #2117.
Other reviews... Due to inventory shortages, this bottling had been discontinued; in fall 2015, it returned after a three-year hiatus. This is a robust, full-flavored whiskey, scented with oak and toffee. It tastes almost like an Old Fashioned, meaning distinct orange peel and cherry notes intertwined with the vanilla and caramel. The long finish offers vanilla, oak and orange peel. 95 points - winenthusiast.com
...Elijah Craig 18 Year certainly has its fans, but it's never been a bourbon that has lit the world on fire. So much of this is due to its lack of strong identity, both in its flavor profile and marketing. As a single barrel, quality can vary and Heaven Hill doesn't make a big deal about sourcing their best barrels for it. It also isn’t a carefully crafted blend like a Four Roses Limited Edition that can help drive interest to a particular release. Its bottle design had been boring for years and on the wrong side of old fashioned before its current update. This has resulted in a product that has never quite reached the fever pitch with bourbon drinkers that it probably deserves. I’ve had Elijah Craig 18 Year over the years and though I felt it hit a consistent high quality bar, I usually wasn’t generally excited by it. While the product hasn’t drastically changed much, the market has. Bourbon is filled with gimmicks, high proof releases, flashy craft distilleries, and celebrity master distillers. Elijah Craig 18 Year is a product that isn’t any of these things and simply just is. It’s an old faithful when it comes to limited releases with its crowd-pleasing flavors, consistent high quality, impressive age statement, and decent availability for a limited release. It’s easy to be swayed by the new kid on the block, but sometimes it's worth revisiting an old friend. Elijah Craig 18 Year may forgo uniqueness for constancy, but in return delivers an impressive age statement, good value, and drinkability. - breakingbourbon.com
Reverend Elijah Craig was an extraordinary pioneer in the the US State of Kentucky. He opened the state's first classical school and donated land to establish Georgetown College. He built the first fulling mill (for cloth), ropewalk (for hemp), paper mill, lumber and grist mills in the state. And to round it all out, in 1789 founded a distillery. It's here that the whiskey legends begin. Craig is often referred to as “the inventor” or "Father" of Bourbon whiskey as we know it today, by virtue of being the first to store and transport (and in the process mature) corn whiskey in charred oak casks. The Bourbon scholar Charles Kendrick Cowdery has a slightly more reticent take on this history. “Craig was a real person - a major character in early Kentucky history - and he was a distiller… What is lacking is any evidence that Craig's whiskey was unique in its day.” Cowdrey offers an interesting take on how the legend may have gained the status of historical fact. In the face of religious and prohibitionist anti-whiskey ferment, the pro-alcohol lobby found inspiration in Craig “...distillers and their supporters were quick to embrace the notion that bourbon was 'invented' by a respected Baptist preacher!” It was clever propaganda that must have enraged prohibitionists and left others questioning the righteousness of the movement.