Elijah Craig is one of Heaven Hill’s flagship brands. It has been around since the 1950s and has always been considered a premium Bourbon. In the 1990s Heaven Hill made the brand a super-premium brand by introducing single barrel versions with extra age to the whiskey. It very quickly became a very popular brand. I have many friends who love the brand. They will search for bottles of Elijah Craig 12yo and 18yo every time they come to Kentucky because it is harder to find in other states.
People who know me know that traditionally I have not cared for those early versions of Elijah Craig. It has always been a good Bourbon and as I said, it is a very popular brand, but I used to find a taste in the finish that reminded me of biting into a rotten peach. However, since the Heaven Hill purchase of the Bernheim Distillery and the use of Bourbon made at that distillery in the brand, I have found less and less of that rotten peach finish. I still get that finish from the bottles with whiskey produced at Bardstown Heaven Hill, so I am sure that the flavor came from the distillation process in Bardstown. I have other friends that have gotten that same flavor from the older bottles while others did not. I assume that it is something genetic in me that brings out the flavor – like people who taste soap when they eat cilantro. Happily, the Elijah Craig small batch is free of any of that rotten peach taste in the finish.
Elijah Craig Small Batch
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Caramel apples with some oak and tobacco. A hint of baking spice in the background.
Taste: Caramel with ripe apples, baking spices and lots of sweet oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and there is more apple fruit and a buttered toffee note reduces the sweet oak. Tasted with a pecan and the baking spices spring forward with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, but the oak is pushed into the background.
Finish: Very dry with lots of oak tannins, but overly bitter and a little fruity sweet. The cranberry sweetens the finish reducing the oak and adding that buttered toffee sweetness. The pecan made the finish very spicy and very dry.
I am pairing this with a Jaimie Garcia Reserva Especial cigar. I find the smoke to be rich tobacco with caramel notes with a little hay and cedar spice. The Bourbon made the caramel note more pronounced and reduced the hay and cedar spice. The smoke made the Bourbon very fruity with apples and nutmeg spice. A very nice pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller