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  • Writer's picturePeter Miles

Elijah's Private Barrels.

Elijah Craig: Uncut, VA ABC Pick, Single Barrel, Straight Bourbon. 9 year old.

The brand is named after the Virginian preacher and distiller who supposedly was the first to mature his whiskey in charred oak barrels, back in 1789. He became a Kentucky native three years later when the western counties of Virginia split off and became the State of Kentucky.

The family-owned Heaven Hill distillery was founded post prohibition in 1935 by a group of investors and is also connected with the Beam family who have had a family member as Master Distiller throughout its history. Headquartered in Bardstown, but with its main distillery in Louisville, the company is the 7th largest producer of alcohol in the USA.

The company seems to find it hard to stay out of the headlines with a massive catastrophic fire in 1996 and a major strike that made national headlines in 2021.

An Elijah Craig Barrel Proof won a Double Gold Medal at the 2017 SF World Spirits Competition.

Mash bill: 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley.

Batch Size: Single barrel # 6232786

ABV = 63.2%. Uncut.

Matured: Nine years in charred American oak barrels. Likely Char #3.

Cost: $89/750ml bottle.

Color: Mahogany: 1.6 (Whisky Magazine scale). Distinctly rich brown wood in appearance.

Swirl: Well developed rim with very fine puckering, many thin ‘legs’ forming quickly and flowing down the glass. Quite a show.

Nose: A strong bourbon caramel is noticed first, with wood shavings and hints of milk chocolate. Some nose prickle but not at all severe considering the proof. Clean and strong, but not particularly complex. No finesse or delicacy here.

Taste: Sweet, very rich and chewy, caramel with burnt sugar and chocolate along with some toffee. A little candied fruit, and maybe some orange peel., Minor wood notes emerge in the background. Medium to high viscosity, it coats well. The proof is clearly high but tolerable, providing great warmth with little fire or sharpness. No trace of phenols or other off flavors. A splash of water reveals a drier, woodier balance to the taste profile, without losing out on any of the core flavors. Nice.

Finish: Shorter than expected. Fades away quickly, leaving just a hint of that burnt sugar lingering on the sides of the tongue.

Verdict: If you like classic bourbon, you will not be disappointed. Smooth, rich, and satisfying. Strong, but mellow. You will be reaching for a refill. Dangerously good.

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