Review: Elijah Craig 18 Single Barrel

The extra-aged Elijah Craig expressions have been popping up all over the shelves around here, and being the Elijah Craig 12 fan that I am, I’ve been impulsing buying them as soon as they are available. I rocked the 23-year-old Elijah about a month ago, and now it’s time for the 18.  Before I could crack the bottle I snagged I was given the opportunity to include it in a trade that involved the 2015 expression of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, which my lovely wife Kate has been searching high and low for. I was able to give her that OFBB for her birthday (guess what review is next) and she was super pumped.

After Kate found out I traded my EC18 for her present, she surprised me with a new bottle of EC18 since she knew I wanted to have it in our collection. I have the best wife ever.

Alright, enough sappy love stuff, let’s drink some old Elijah!

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill Bernheim distillery

Mash Bill: 75% corn/12% rye/13% barley

ABV: 45% (90 proof)

Age: 18 years (barreled on 6-20-97, barrel #4175)

Released: 2015

Price: $99

Color: Vivid amber

Nose: This aroma is bright and funky, much brighter than expected. Tons of blackberry, cloves, honey, and Watermelon Jolly Rancher (no shit, it took a while but I realized the thing I couldn’t nail totally smells like that Jolly Rancher). Bright red fruit barrel funk carries through and is complimented by spicy black pepper and vanilla.

Taste: The oak is MUCH more prevalent on the sip than in the aroma, bringing with it cinnamon, honey, raspberry, and black pepper. There is almost a roasty coffee quality that has a bit of smokiness to it which serves to add complexity to this guy.

Finish: Super dry oak sucks all the moisture out of your mouth almost immediately leaving nothing by roasted coffee, cinnamon, and pepper.

Overall: I drank this one alongside its older brother, and often referenced the review of it to detail the differences, which is always a fun exercise. Both are definitely old, definitely oaky, but have a pretty nice little balance going on with all the bright fruit and honey jazz. If given a blind taste of the two, I think I could tell which was older, but I would never guess they are separated by a full 5 years. Both share that heavy oak backbone, but have nice characters that make them unique, making it a fun little pair to try next to each other. If only they didn’t have that finish that sucks all the moisture out of your soul they would be a real threat to some of the better whiskeys we’ve reviewed.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my official recommendation would be to go for a Elijah Craig Barrel Proof 12 over the 18, unless you just really want to spend all that extra $50 on a fancy bottle for your shelf. If you do, I obviously won’t judge, I did the same thing.

Rating: 4/5


One thought on “Review: Elijah Craig 18 Single Barrel

  1. I found the 18 year EC worth every damn penny at $140 (and that is cheap compared to secondary market). Really very special whiskey and 18 years seems to be about the perfect age for EC, IMO. Welcome back EC 18. We missed ya.

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