Elijah Craig (bourbon)
Various bottlings of the Elijah Craig brand
|Country of origin||United States|
|Alcohol by volume||Varies with release|
|Proof (US)||Varies with release|
|Variants||Single Barrel Select, Small Batch, 12 Year Old Small Batch, 12 Year Barrel Proof, 18 Year Old Single Barrel, 20 Year Old Single Barrel, 21 Year Old Single Barrel, Elijah Craig 22 Year Old Single Barrel, 23 Year Old Single Barrel, 125 proof Elijah Craig (Distillery Only release)|
Elijah Craig whiskey is offered in both small batch and single barrel bottlings. The small batch variation (94 U.S. proof, 47% ABV) is also available in glass 375 mL and 1.75 L bottles. The Barrel Select expression is only available in 200 mL bottles. The company is headquartered in Bardstown, Kentucky, and its distillery (called the Heaven Hill Bernheim distillery) is in Louisville, Kentucky.
The bourbon brand is named in honor of Reverend Elijah Craig (1738/1743 – May 18, 1808), who was a Baptist preacher, educator, and entrepreneur in Fayette County, Virginia, which became Scott County, Kentucky, following Kentucky statehood in 1792. In approximately 1789, Craig founded a distillery there. The Heaven Hill company dubiously credits him with the invention of "true Kentucky Bourbon" by improving the locally made distillate from an un-aged corn liquor through barrel-aging in charred oak casks, "a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste." The Heaven Hill company uses this claim, calling Elijah Craig "The Father of Bourbon" in its advertising of their product. Elijah Craig is most widely known by association with this brand of bourbon.
The Elijah Craig label is currently offered worldwide in four variations. A fifth expression, called Elijah Craig Barrel Select, is only available at the distillery gift shop.
- Elijah Craig Small Batch (94 proof)
- Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Small Batch Barrel Proof (around 125–140 proof, varies with batch)
- Elijah Craig 18 Year Old Single Barrel (90 proof)
- Elijah Craig 23 Year Old Single Barrel (90 proof)
- Elijah Craig Barrel Select (125 proof)
- Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Small Batch
- Elijah Craig 20 Year Old Single Barrel (90 proof)
- Elijah Craig 21 Year Old Single Barrel (90 proof)
- Elijah Craig 22 Year Old Single Barrel (90 proof)
The 18, 20, 21, 22, and 23 year old Elijah Craig variants may be[clarification needed] sold in a hard canister with a leather bag.
Elijah Craig Small Batch
The Small Batch bottling of Elijah Craig was originally released in 1986 with a 12 year age statement. In early 2016, Heaven Hill announced that it would drop the age statement from the Small Batch label and switch to a composite of 8- and 12-year-old bourbon to extend their stocks. The new labeling of Elijah Craig Small Batch debuted shortly thereafter without an age statement. The company also increased the maximum number of barrels dumped per batch for the Small Batch expression from 100 to 200 barrels.
On September 29, 2016, Heaven Hill announced a redesign of the Elijah Craig Small Batch and Small Batch Barrel Proof offerings.
Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof
Since 2013, there have been three releases of Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof annually for a total of 22 releases as of January 2020. Starting with release #13 and the redesign of the Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof and Small Batch labels, batch numbers were included on the Barrel Proof label to specify the batch release order, month, and year.
|Release No.||Release Date||Proof||% ABV|
|13 (A117)||Jan 2017||127||63.5|
|14 (B517)||May 2017||124.2||62.1|
|15 (C917)||Sep 2017||131||65.5|
|16 (A118)||Jan 2018||130.6||65.3|
|17 (B518)||May 2018||133.4||66.7|
|18 (C917)||Sep 2018||131.4||65.7|
|19 (A119)||Jan 2019||135.2||67.6|
|20 (B519)||May 2019||133.4||66.7|
|21 (C919)||Sep 2019||136.8||68.4|
|22 (A120)||Jan 2020||136.6||68.3|
|23 (B520)||May 2020||127.2||63.6|
Elijah Craig Single Barrel
A single barrel variant of Elijah Craig is currently available in 18- and 23-year old bottlings. Heaven Hill has offered a single barrel version of Elijah Craig carrying 20, 21, and 22 year old age statements as well.
In May 2012, it was announced that the Elijah Craig 18 Year Old Single Barrel bottling would be suspended due to limited barrel stocks near this age. Heaven Hill announced that several extra-aged releases would be released annually to augment the lack of an 18-year-old offering. Shortly thereafter, 1,300 bottles of Elijah Craig 20 Year Old Single Barrel were released. In 2013, Elijah Craig 21 Year Old Single Barrel replaced the 20 year old offering. and in 2014, Elijah Craig 23 Year Old Single Barrel replaced the 21 year old. This release continues to be offered annually. In 2015, Elijah Craig 18 Year Old Single Barrel was offered again and continues to be released annually as well.
Awards and reviews
In the San Francisco World Spirits Competition of 2010, the 18-year-old Elijah Craig Single Barrel Bourbon was awarded "Best Bourbon" and received a "Double Gold Medal" rating. In previous years, it had received a "Double Gold Medal" rating in 2008, a "Gold Medal" rating in 2004, and four "Silver" ratings in other years (2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007).
In 2011, Elijah Craig 20 Year Old Single Barrel (Barrel #3735) was named by Whisky Advocate magazine as "American Whiskey of the Year".
In 2017, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B517 (release 14, 124.2 proof, 62.1% ABV) was named by Whisky Advocate as "Whisky of the Year". Reviewer Jeffery Lindenmuth described the whiskey as "delivering a massive mouthful of incredibly robust flavors that drape leathery oak over a gooey caramel core, sprinkled with baking spice, while candied nuts and tobacco leaf notes appear on a drying finish dusted with cocoa."
- Cowdery, Charles K. (July 1996). "How Bourbon Whiskey Really Got Its Famous Name". The Bourbon Country Reader. 3 (1). Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
- "Home Page". Elijah Craig bourbon official website. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
- Kleber, John E., ed. (1992). The Kentucky encyclopedia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-8131-1772-0.
- "Elijah Craig – History". Elijah Craig bourbon official website. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
- "Our Bourbons". Elijah Craig bourbon official website. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
- Minnick, Fred (January 20, 2016). "Elijah Craig Small Batch Drops 12-yr Age Statement". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
- "Elijah Craig Small Batch Age Change (press release)". Heaven Hill Distilleries official website. January 22, 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
- "See How it's Made". Elijah Craig bourbon official website. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
- "Heaven Hill Distillery, One of the Nation's Foremost American Whiskey Producers, Announces A Major Redesign of Flagship Elijah Craig Small Batch (press release)". Heaven Hill Distilleries official website. September 29, 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
- Straub, Bill (May 11, 2017). "Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Guide to releases and batches". Modern Thirst. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
- "Heaven Hill Distilleries to Introduce Elijah Craig 20-Year-Old Single Barrel Bottling (press release)". Heaven Hill Distilleries official website. May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "Heaven Hill Distilleries to Release New Elijah Craig 21-Year-Old Single Barrel Bottling (press release)". Heaven Hill Distilleries official website. August 7, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "Heaven Hill Distilleries Set to Release Elijah Craig 23-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon to Select Markets Nationally (press release)". Heaven Hill Distilleries official website. August 19, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "Whisky Advocate's 18th Annual Awards". Whisky Advocate. March 23, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Lindenmuth, Jeffery. "Top 20 Whiskies of 2017". Whisky Advocate. Retrieved May 25, 2018.