Spirits & Liqueurs Bourbon

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Review

This high-proof whiskey has a legacy and layers that make it easy to love.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Image:

Liquor.com / Laura Sant

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon is a balanced, plush whiskey with well-integrated notes of vanilla, caramel, and toast. The spicy, lingering finish promises to keep you coming back for more. 

Fast Facts

Classification: straight bourbon whisky

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Elijah Craig Distillery, Bardstown, Kentucky

Cask type: new white American oak

Released: 1986

Proof: 94

Aged: 8 to 12 years

Mash bill: corn, wheat, rye, malted barley

MSRP: $32

Pros:

  • The soft, round texture of this bourbon remains intact against the heat of alcohol. 
  • Lots of layers of fruit, confectionary notes, spice, and a snappy toastiness keeps its richness in check.

Cons: 

  • Its rich flavor and texture may be perceived as too sweet for certain bourbon lovers, and certainly for Scotch fans. 

Tasting Notes 

Color: Deep, rich chestnut honey hue, due to aging for 8 to 12 years in char #3 new American oak barrels

Nose: Just-ripe banana, ripe apples, butter cookies, vanilla bean 

Palate: For a whiskey that’s 47% ABV, this bourbon manages an impressive balance of flavor and heat straight out of the bottle. It’s round, plush, and sweet on the palate, with well-integrated peppery spice notes. 

Finish: The vanilla and caramel sweetness that starts from the first sip lingers on the finish, with a drying note of toast and spice. 

Our Review

Elijah Craig was a Virginia-born Baptist reverend who preached the word of the bible on the frontier but practiced the art and science of farm distilling, one of many at the time who tried to find further fortune to spin from crops. While it’s not clear if he actually invented the process, Craig is given credit for popularizing the signature American bourbon practice of aging the spirit in charred oak barrels, a step that is now included in the federal laws that govern the making of the popular whiskey. 

The high corn percentage and the likely addition of wheat to the mash bill of Elijah Craig add a plush, soft texture to the Elijah Craig small batch that is nearly confectionary, in the best possible way. Its fruity, perfumed nose is alluring and its caramel and vanilla notes become even more pronounced with just a few drops of water. It’s such an easy sipper. 

Interesting Facts

Not only was Craig a successful preacher and distiller, he was also quite the entrepreneur, founding an entire town in Fayette County, Virginia (now Kentucky), as well as mills that manufactured rope, clothing, and paper. 

The bottom line: For bourbon neophytes ready to venture deeper into the category, Elijah Craig Small Batch is an excellent next step, both for its flavor and texture and for its gentle price point.