I’m a big fan of the classic, affordable, readily-available, always-solid Elijah Craig Small Batch. Now, in addition to other recent brand extensions, in September Heaven Hill is releasing Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Heaven Hill collaborated with Independent Stave Company to develop custom toasted barrels—after air-drying the new American White Oak staves for 18 months, the exclusive barrels are first toasted with increasing temperature as time passes, which releases the dark sugar flavors in the wood, and then the barrels receive a level one flash char.
Mature Elijah Craig (78% corn, 12 malted barley, and 10% rye aged in barrels with a #3 char level) is then re-barreled into the custom toasted barrels for an undisclosed period of additional aging.
Some people think that use of this “finishing barrel” restricts the use of the legal term “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey,” but because it’s a first-use charred oak container, it’s still 100% “Straight” and “Bourbon.”
Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Tasting Notes
|Bourbon:||Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey|
|Distillery:||Heaven Hill, Bardstown, Kentucky (distilled in Louisville and aged in Bardstown)|
|ABV:||47% (94 proof)|
Darker than Elijah Craig Small Batch (as expected), but not tremendously darker, and with a slight glint of red.
The aromas are phenomenal and robust. Caramel, brown sugar, s’mores, oak, and leather.
Not sugary sweet like a s’more, but it has those components—graham cracker, chocolate, and browned campfire marshmallow. The sweetness is balanced with black pepper, oak, and leather.
The finish has a bit more spice but it melts into warming sweetness.
I tasted Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel side-by-side with Elijah Craig Small Batch and a 10-year old Elijah Craig private selection aged in Deatsville; what a fantastic, affordable lineup! The comparison shows how the Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel uses the second barrel to create a new experience with a familiar, sturdy backbone. It’s sweeter—but rich sweetness—less oaky, and definitely more complex. Elijah Craig Small Batch is one of my go-to bourbons, and now I’ll also always have a bottle of Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel open as well. It’s a strong buy.
Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me samples for this review,
without any strings attached.