Bourbon Breakdown: Elijah Craig Bourbon

September 25, 2021

Heaven Hill is an independent, family-owned company founded in 1935. Over the years, the company has either created or acquired numerous whiskey brands as well as other spirit styles like tequila, vodka and rum. But among its American whiskey brands, Elijah Craig is one of its premium and super-premium bourbon brands. Furthermore, it’s highly regarded in the whiskey community and unlike so many bourbon brands today, widely available. So it’s a good idea to get to know this brand while it’s relatively affordable.

Like many Kentucky bourbon brands, Elijah Craig is named after a real person. Reverend Elijah Craig (~1740-1808) was a Baptist preacher, an entrepreneur and an educator. Moreover, he was also a distiller and according to Heaven Hill, he was the first to age his bourbon in charred, new barrels in 1789. In fact, that date is imprinted on Elijah Craig bottles to mark the occasion. Of course now, charred new oak barrels are required for the bourbon category.

The Elijah Craig Bourbon brand was first introduced in 1986 under the leadership of the late Parker Beam as master distiller. The Small Batch bottling was the first release, but today there are several bottlings under the Elijah Craig portfolio including a rye which first appeared in January 2020. But as this is a bourbon breakdown article, we’ll be sticking with the Elijah Craig bourbon marques.

Below you’ll find a brief description of each bottling along with our expert tasting note and our Distiller Community Ratings. This should help you sort out the next Elijah Craig bourbon to add to your home bar.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

For this small batch bourbon, 200 barrels are used for each batch.

What to Know:

The bourbon is aged in level 3 charred, new American oak barrels for 8-12 years. It’s bottled at 94 proof.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Caramel, apples, green herbs and toasted breakfast flakes; enjoyable as a daily, go-to bourbon.

Avg US Price: $30
ABV: 47%
Community Rating: 3.69 out of 5 stars (5,421 Ratings)

Elijah Craig Bourbon: Elijah Craig Small Batch BourbonElijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon /Photo Credit: Heaven Hill

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon

Barrel Proof Bourbon is released three times a year and since 2017, each of the batches gets assigned a letter — A,B, or C — followed by the month of the year and the last two digits of the year released. E.g. B518 is the second batch of 2018 released in May.

What to Know:

While the Small Batch Bourbon lost its age statement in 2016, the barrel-proof bourbon has been aged at least 12 years. Each batch will yield a different barrel proof, but expect the proof to be around 130. Also, each batch is unfiltered.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Cocoa, caramel apples, roasted peanuts and leather; a big pillowy hug of bourbon.

Avg US Price: $102
ABV: ~ 65%
Community Rating: 4.13 out of 5 stars (93 Ratings)*

*Tasting note and ratings for Batch B521.

Elijah Craig Bourbon: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof BourbonElijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon /Photo Credit: Heaven Hill

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon

This recent addition to the Elijah Craig portfolio begins with fully-mature Elijah Craig Small Batch. Then the bourbon goes into a secondary toasted barrel to finish aging.

What to Know:

These secondary barrels were crafted in partnership with Independent Stave Company. They were made with 18-month air-dried staves which were toasted (moderate toast) then flash charred. Both the initial and finishing barrels were made from new American oak. It’s bottled at 94 proof.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Brown sugar, apples, oak, char smoke and mouthfuls of Cinnamon Red Hots.

Avg US Price: $139
ABV: 47%
Community Rating: 3.92 out of 5 stars (505 Ratings)

Elijah Craig Bourbon: Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel BourbonElijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon

Elijah Craig 18 Year Bourbon

The bourbon for this bottling comes from single barrels so expect flavor to vary from different barrels.

What to Know:

Aged for 18 years, this is bottled at 90 proof.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Oak jumps out of the glass with vanilla fudge, honey and orchard fruits following; a slow sipper with a long finish.

Avg US Price: $343
ABV: 45%
Community Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Elijah Craig Bourbon: Elijah Craig 18 Year BourbonElijah Craig 18 Year Bourbon /Photo Credit: Heaven Hill

Ready to do your own Elijah Craig Bourbon comparisons?

With Distiller, you’ll always know what’s in the bottle before you spend a cent. Rate, Review, and Discover spirits. Head on over to Distiller, or download the app for iOS and Android today!

Want to enjoy Distiller ad-free? Join Distiller Pro today to support the Distiller platform and keep ads off of your screen.

You may also like...