Called the “Father of Bourbon,” Elijah Craig is one of America’s best-known whiskey brands on the market.
Today, the Elijah Craig brand is owned by Heaven Hill Brands, and the signature small-batch bourbon is distilled and aged at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky.
The bourbon is 94 proof, made with a mash bill of 72% corn, 14% rye, and 14% malted barley, and it is aged for a minimum of eight years in charred oak barrels.
However, there is so much more to the Elijah Craig name than being synonymous with bourbon. The Elijah Craig story is a true American success story, and it is one that everyone should know.
History of Elijah Craig Bourbon
Elijah Craig’s legacy is both inspiring and complicated. On the one hand, he was a man who overcame humble beginnings to become a successful businessman and respected member of his community.
On the other hand, he enslaved people and benefited from their labor. Those who study Craig’s life often struggle to reconcile these two aspects of his story. It is important for those who work for the Elijah Craig brand to remember both parts of their namesake’s legacy.
Elijah Craig’s history is inspiring with his determination and entrepreneurial spirit. Still, it is also essential to recognize that his success was built on the backs of those who were forcibly enslaved.
Elijah Craig was born in Virginia in 1738 and later moved to Kentucky. He was a Baptist minister and a renowned educator, but he is best known for his role in the whiskey industry.
In the early 1800s, Craig began distilling bourbon whiskey. He is credited with aging the whiskey in charred oak barrels, which imparts a unique flavor and color to the finished product. Today, Elijah Craig is one of the most popular bourbon brands on the market.
The company produces several different bourbon expressions, including a 12-year-old single barrel bourbon that is highly sought after by collectors.
Whether you’re a fan of the spirit or not, there’s no denying that Elijah Craig was a pioneer in the American whiskey industry.
Varieties of Elijah Craig
Elijah Craig offers five different expressions: the Signature Small-Batch Bourbon, rye, a toasted barrel whiskey, barrel proof, and an 18-year-old whiskey.
The Signature Small-Batch Bourbon is the flagship product and is made with a blend of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys that are aged for a minimum of 4 years.
The rye is made with 100% rye grain and is aged for at least four years. In contrast, the toasted barrel whiskey is aged in new, charred oak barrels that are then toasted to impart unique flavor notes.
The barrel-proof expression is bottled at cask strength and is not diluted with water. Lastly, 18-year-old whiskey is made with a blend of whiskeys that have been aged for at least 18 years.
Elijah Craig Tasting Notes
Elijah Craig is a whiskey brand that is known for its high quality and unique flavor profile. There are several different expressions of Elijah Craig, each of which offers a different experience.
Signature Small-Batch bourbon
Elijah Craig Signature Small Batch is the flagship bourbon that started it all for the whiskey brand. The Signature small Batch is known for its distinctive warm spice and subtle smoke flavor.
The unique flavor profile results from the bourbon being aged in Level 3 charred oak barrels, which imparts a deep, rich flavor to the bourbon. In addition to its unique flavor, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon is amber in color.
Elijah Craig’s website describes the Small Batch Bourbon’s tasting notes as having a complex aroma on the nose, with notes of vanilla bean, sweet fruit, and fresh mint.
The taste is smooth and warm, with pleasantly woody spice, smoke, and nutmeg accents. The finish is long, sweet, and slightly toasty.
Although it has no official age statement, Elijah Craig Rye is aged at least four years. The distillation process is the same as the Signature Bourbon. However, the mashbill consists of 51% rye grain instead of corn.
The Kentucky straight rye whiskey is a combination of spicy rye grains and sweet corn. Notes of vanilla, honey and baking spices give way to a long, dry finish. The result is a smooth, complex whiskey with a warm amber color.
Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel
This bourbon has been “twice barreled” to add complexity, which only means that after it is fully matured, the bourbon is finished a second time in a new custom-toasted barrel.
The second maturation is where it develops even more of its signature sweet oak flavor.
There are aromas of pekoe tea, new leather, and cinnamon on the nose. The cedar and jasmine notes come through on the palate, while the warm and comforting notes of peach preserves and brown sugar provide a lovely sweetness.
The finish is long and spicy, with a chipotle pepper note that lingers on the palate.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
A barrel-proof whiskey is one that has not had any water added to it to dilute the flavor, which means that it can be incredibly strong. Elijah Craig’s barrel-proof is non-chill filtered, uncut, and straight from the barrel.
Each bottle is hand-labeled with its unique proof and batch number. While traditional methods of aging Bourbon in oak barrels for two years result in an 80-proof spirit, this bourbon runs a higher proof, with each batch ranging from 120 to 140.
The heat of summer and cold of winter cause the liquid to expand and contract in the wood casks, pulling flavor compounds out of the charred oak. The result is a full-bodied Bourbon with strong notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak.
18-Year-Old Single Barrel
Bottled solely from the contents of one expertly chosen barrel, this expression of Elijah Craig is bold, robust, and incredibly complex.
The nose features hints of oak and vanilla, followed by a warm and spicy palate. The finish is long and lingering, with the slightest bit of sweetness. This is a Bourbon that is meant to be savored slowly according to Elijah Craig’s website.
Elijah Craig Price
Elijah Craig is widely available across the U.S. and can be easily purchased from online retailers such as Drizly or even the Elijah Craig website itself.
The brand produces a wide range of expressions, from entry-level bourbons to high-end, limited-edition bottlings.
Elijah Craig is generally considered to be a good value for the price, with most expressions falling in the $30-$60 range. However, some of the higher-end bottles can fetch quite a bit more, with prices ranging up to $200 or more.
Elijah Craig Cocktails
Elijah Craig bourbon is a versatile spirit that can be used in a wide range of cocktails. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing summer drink or a cozy winter warmer, Elijah Craig has a recipe for you.
The classic old-fashioned is a perfect choice for those who prefer a sweeter drink. Simply mix Elijah Craig bourbon with sugar and bitters, then garnish with a cherry or orange peel.
If you’re in the mood for something refreshing, a bourbon lemonade is always a good option. Simply combine Elijah Craig bourbon with fresh lemon juice and sugar to taste.
Or, for a more complicated drink, try a Boulevardier. This iconic cocktail mixes Elijah Craig bourbon with sweet vermouth and Campari, resulting in a complex and well-balanced drink.
Elijah Craig Conclusion
Elijah Craig is one of the most iconic American whiskey brands. The brand has a rich history and is known for its high-quality bourbon.
Elijah Craig is definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to try a new bourbon.