Showing posts with label Elijah Craig. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elijah Craig. Show all posts

Friday, September 17, 2021

Elijah Craig Barrel Select Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes




Elijah Craig is a name in Bourbon that carries a long, storied tradition.  First of all, he is credited with being the Father of Bourbon.  At least that's how the legend goes.  The Reverand Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister who was involved in a variety of business enterprises, including distilling. However, truth be told, there is no evidence beyond nostalgia that suggests Elijah Craig actually invented Bourbon. But, he was certainly an early force in the art.



Elijah Craig the brand hit shelves in about 1986.  It started off as a 12-year Bourbon, which was something new for Heaven Hill.  Their goal was to get beyond the less-than-positive opinion of its whiskeys and turn the company around. It then moved into an 18-year, and from there, older expressions.


Laying down my cards on the table, I'm admittedly an Elijah Craig fanboy. I buy Barrel Proofs and Single Barrel store picks as I come across them.  I have more than I probably should.  I've known about the Elijah Craig grenades, which is really called Barrel Select, for a few years.  But, I've never tried a bottle, that is, until a very recent trip to Kentucky.  I had two bottles on my list that I wanted to purchase when I took my trip, this being one of them.


Barrel Select is not Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, but it is entry proof (meaning, it is the same proof as what goes into the barrel before any aging occurs).  It carries no age statement, although it is assumed to be between eight and nine years, and is the typical mash of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley.  It only comes in 200ml bottles that are shaped like a barrel, but fit in the hand like a grenade, hence, the nickname.  It is bottled at 125° and costs about $25.00. The only place to buy them is from the Heaven Hill gift shop. You're only allowed one per person per visit.


Will Barrel Select live up to the Elijah Craig reputation? The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Barrel Select appears as a deep, dark amber. It left a very thin rim on the wall that created fat, wavy legs.  Those legs certainly took their time crawling back to the pool.


Nose:  I didn't even have to bring the glass near me to start picking up the aroma of caramel. Once I brought it to my face, it was that caramel and a small amount of mint. Underneath the mint was cinnamon. When I held the rim just under my nose, aromas of cherry and oak filled my nostrils.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was warm vanilla with cinnamon.


Palate:  The initial sip was thick and coating. It was also packed a wallop of a punch. I've been drinking Elijah Craig Barrel Proof since I've really been into Bourbon, and until you get into the super-heavy proofs, I've not felt this much of a kick as what Barrel Select delivered.  But, once I got past that punch, it was a mouthful of berries at the front.  At mid-palate, it became like thick caramel with cinnamon. On the back, it was clove and oak.


Finish:  And, that clove and oak held on for the finish, which was quick and dropped off without warning. My initial feeling was a disappointment, as Elijah Craig never delivered me that, not even in its rather mellow 18-year expression. Just before I went to take another sip, that clove and oak raced back for another round, sticking around only a little bit longer, almost like a tease.  I did notice, however, that my lips were tingling. And, I noticed cherry that was left behind on my palate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I already admitted I'm an Elijah Craig fanboy. While the finish initially left me disappointed, when it came back again, I found that interesting. When the oak and clove fell off the second time and left the cherry behind, it turned my frown upside down. 


When you consider the price of $25.00, it seems affordable, until, of course, you do the math and realize it is the equivalent of an $87.50 750ml bottle. That becomes expensive for what it is. However (and this may be the fanboy providing justification), it is $25.00 for a very cool experience that would probably last you four pours. And, that's cheaper than going to a bar, in which case you wouldn't find Barrel Select anyway.  As such, my recommendation is to buy the one Bottle you're allowed to the next time you're at the distillery.  Cheers!



My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:
  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Elijah Craig "Good Carma" Single Barrel Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes



If you've followed my reviews for some time, you know that I have some biases. That's right, I'm human. But, I admit them. And, today I'm going to admit another.


I enjoy the hell out of Elijah Craig.


That shouldn't be a surprise. This is something I've stated for a few years now. I stumble upon Elijah Craig store picks and for me, it is almost always a no-brainer. And, I'm going to give you a spoiler - I love the one I'm reviewing today. But, what's important is what makes this store pick worthwhile.


If you're unfamiliar with Elijah Craig (hey, everyone is new to something sometime, right?), it is distilled by Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Kentucky. Heaven Hill uses a mash of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. It is then poured into #3-charred oak barrels.  With average retail of less than $30.00, it is also a very affordable investment. That's the standard release that you'll find on every store shelf.


Then you get into the Single Barrel program (don't be fooled by "Small Batch" on the bottle, they use the same bottle for their Small Batch and their Single Barrel program). In the case of today's review, it is a store pick by Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton, Wisconsin called Good Carma.  Good Carma aged in Rickhouse V on the third floor for 11 years, 11 months, and 11 days. It came out of the barrel at 122.9° and then proofed down to the standard 94°, giving a yield of 228 bottles. Retail is $28.99.


I'd like to thank Niemuth's for providing me a sample of Good Carma in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. With that said, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Good Carma appeared as a very orange amber. While the rim it left was very thin, the legs were fat and wavy.  When they dissipated, droplets stuck to the side like glue.


Nose:  Things started off with brown sugar and vanilla. From there, I found cherries and cinnamon. At the end, it was oak and dried, sweet fruit.  When I inhaled through my lips, caramel-coated cherries flowed across my palate.


Palate:  Here's where things get interesting. The mouthfeel was thick and heavy. At the front, it was a total caramel bomb. There was nothing else to contend with. No matter how many sips I took, I could not get past the caramel.  But, once it hit mid-palate, I tasted a combination of hazelnut, vanilla, and sweet corn.  Then, at the back, toasted oak and brown sugar.


Finish:   Medium in length, I was left wishing it would go longer. It was a blend of toasted oak, white pepper, and caramel. 


Bottle, Bar or Bust:  My rating is no surprise since I let the cat out of the bag early.  But, Good Carma is dangerous. It goes down way too easy. On one of the warmest, most humid days of the year so far, it could be enjoyed on the back deck without causing any discomfort. There was no real warmth to speak of. This is the kind of Bourbon that doesn't even require effort to get a Bottle rating from me.  Grab it, you can thank me later.  Cheers!




My Simple, Easy To Understand Rating System:
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

"Sweet Carmella" Elijah Craig Single Barrel Review & Tasting Notes


Reasons exist why you should get excited over Elijah Craig store picks. First and foremost, they're super affordable. Second of all, they are fairly easy to pick. I've done several of these and the number of samples that I didn't care for I could count on one hand. Third of all (did I mention this?), they're easy on the wallet.


So, if you can just go just about anywhere and get an Elijah Craig store pick, can you just choose anything and be fine? There are absolutely some that are superior to others, and as I pointed out, I've had some samples that wouldn't pass my strict standards.


Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton, WI recently selected a pick for their store, and they provided me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. In full disclosure, I have been involved in picking barrels for Niemuth's, but this one is not one of those. I do thank them for their generosity.


Barrel number 5189718, called Sweet Carmella, rested in Heaven Hill's Warehouse N on the second floor for just over 13 years before it was deemed mature. If you consider entry proof for Heaven Hill is 125°, when I tell you that Sweet Carmella was dumped at 137.5°, it gives you an idea as to how much the angels stole. This is up at the higher end of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases! Niemuth's is charging $28.99 for a bottle.


Before you turn off the review and hop in the car, you should know that Barrel Proof is not an option for store picks of Elijah Craig. Every store pick is bottled at 94°, the same as the Small Batch version. And, when you see the bottle and see the embossed words Small Batch in the glass, don't think you've been ripped off. Every store pick is a single barrel but is bottled in their standard small batch bottle.


And, anyway, don't you want to know if Sweet Carmella is any good before you head on over to the store? Remember, I said there do exist barrels that I don't care for.  Time to #DrinkCurious and find out.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Sweet Carmella presents as a brilliant amber. It left a thinner rim that made fat legs. Those legs raced their way back down to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Typical of Elijah Craig, caramel and oak were heavy on the nose. But, floral rye is much less so, and that followed the obvious.  It closed up with an also atypical aroma of butterscotch. When I inhaled through my mouth, vanilla and oak rolled over my palate.


Palate:  At first sip, Sweet Carmella offered a creamy, coating mouthfeel. Up at the front was vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel. Mid-palate was another different quality for Elijah Craig. I tasted berry, with the caramel hanging on for good measure. Then, on the back, it was a complementary blend of black pepper, oak, and vanilla. 


Finish:  While the requisite Elijah Craig oaky finish was there, it was married to a definitive sweet quality. Spicy clove and barrel char left the mouth and throat something to think about before falling off after what seemed to be an eternity.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Now that the tasting notes are done, is it worth a drive over to Niemuth's?  This would not be a sample I would have rejected and, in fact, can envision myself being quite satisfied with myself were I at the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club that day. There is a lot going on and I'm always interested in a different twist out of Elijah Craig. Sweet Carmella does that on all three fronts: the nose, the palate, and in the finish. There aren't a ton of 13-year Elijah Craigs available, and when you realize it is only $28.99, this becomes a no-brainer Bottle. Hop in the car and start driving. Cheers!




My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Woodinville Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


One of my favorite things about sipping whiskey is discovering something new and unheard of. Oh, it doesn't mean it will always be good, but it is exciting nonetheless. Some folks really enjoy drinking the same thing time after time, and I don't blame them, that's their thing. For me, the whole #DrinkCurious lifestyle is all about exploration into the unknown.


Woodinville Straight Bourbon is distilled in-house at the Woodinville Whiskey Distilling Co. in Woodinville, Washington (that's a lot of Woodinvilles!). The whiskey is then transferred to rickhouses on the other side of the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington where they are left to age. The barrels are created from wood seasoned in the open air for 18 months. The barrels are then slow toasted and are subject to a heavy charring. 


The Bourbon itself is distilled from a mash of 72% corn, 22% rye, and 6% malted barley. It is bottled at 90°, and while it doesn't carry an age statement, Woodinville suggests it is aged over five years.  Suggested retail is $55 for a 750ml.


Before I get started on the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Woodinville Distilling Co. for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-holds-barred, honest review.


In my Glencairn glass, the appearance is a dark caramel. It left a thin rim that led to fat legs. Those legs slowly dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Aromas of cinnamon and vanilla initially permeated my nostrils. Underneath those were toasted wood and berries. When I inhaled through my lips, I picked up crème brūlée.


The mouthfeel was thick, oily and coating. The front of my palate picked up cherry and caramel. There was also quite a bit of heavy oak.  Mid-palate, it was very dark chocolate. That all yielded to black pepper and a return of the oak. 


All of that resulted in a long, steady, peppery finish that brought back memories of the long-gone Elijah Craig 12


Bottle, Bar or Bust:  There are a few factors going on here in my rating. I enjoyed the mix of cherries and dark chocolate on the palate and the finish that brought back good memories. When that's compounded with the suggested retail, which falls nicely into the rest of the craft whiskey category, there's really no downside and easily snatches up a Bottle rating. If you visit their website at woodinvillewhiskey.com, you can discover if distribution is near you.


Cheers!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Elijah Craig Single Barrel - BWP Pierce's Express Market Pick Review & Tasting Notes



One of the great joys of the Wonderful World of Whiskey is the invitation to do a private barrel pick. It is not only a lot of fun but a great honor.  And, if you're very serious about picking barrels, you have to go in prepared to reject all the samples if they won't be something you're proud to have your name associated with.


My goal when picking a barrel is to find something unusual. Some stores or bars like "safe" picks, where they know it will taste just like the standard release.  I typically reject those.  After all, if it isn't something special, why bother going through the trouble?


Last fall I was invited to pick a barrel of Elijah Craig for BWP - Pierce's Express Market in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The goal was to have this selected and in the store by Christmas. As it turned out, BWP received the barrel just a couple weeks ago. BWP has this single barrel Bourbon listed at $29.99 and it carries no age statement.


The Elijah Craig private barrel program is always 94°. Personally, I wish they'd offer a barrel proof option, but that's not going to happen. Saying that, one of the things I appreciate about the Elijah Craig private barrel program is its affordability. There are a lot of barrel picks that get pricey. Not so with Elijah Craig.


The good news is it has been so long ago since I picked this, I don't completely remember what was picked. That's not quite going into this blind, but it is enough to where any notes I had then are long forgotten, so this is almost a new Bourbon to me. Time to #DrinkCurious...


In my Glencairn, the appearance was typical Elijah Craig's deep amber. It left the thinnest rim on the glass. The rim hung on for several moments before it created thick droplets that just would not release back to the pool of liquid sunshine.  This was a surprise because when I tasted the samples, it was with plastic cups.


After letting the glass rest for about ten minutes, thick fruit permeated the air around me. As I nosed the glass, it started as berry heavy. Underneath that berry was aromas of vanilla and oak.  When I inhaled through my lips, fresh cream rolled all over my palate.


The initial mouthfeel was like the rim:  incredibly thin.  A subsequent sip was much less so, and the more I sipped the creamier it became.  It could have been a factor of the tingling on my hard palate, but I distinctly remember the same experience with the initial sample. Vanilla was up front, followed by red fruit and black pepper at mid-palate. The fruit gave way to oak, but the black pepper remained. There was, interestingly enough, really nothing on the back.


The very long finish consisted of the charred oak you'd normally expect from Elijah Craig. But, added to that was clove that hung on to the front, eventually yielding to a sweet caramel before melting away. I chose the word melting purposefully because that's the best description available.


Finally, this one drinks heavier than the advertised 94°. It doesn't "burn" but it definitely grabs the attention of your hard palate.


Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Let's get real here. I picked this, obviously, I'm biased.  Remember my goal:  I always want to find something unusual or unique. The BWP - Pierce's Express Market pick fits that description. I am honored to have been a part of this pick and this absolutely rates as a Bottle.  If you're in Wisconsin, make the drive to Baraboo. You'll be happy.


Cheers!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Elijah Craig B518 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 


I'm going to start this off by saying I'm a sucker for Elijah Craig. This doesn't mean that any of the various expressions get a free pass from me, rather, it means when I see a new incarnation, I get excited and will buy a bottle untasted. When reviewing it, I give it the same unbiased opportunity for BottleBar, or Bust as I do with anything else. There have been a couple of unimpressive releases in the barrel-proof versions...


You can read this review in its entirety at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Remember When Nobody was Going to Drink Elijah Craig Again?

 


Do you ever feel worn out? Run down? Past your prime? Have you ever longed for your younger days? Does getting older suck, or is it a great experience?

Taking a quick trip back in time, specifically January 2016, the big news in Bourbon was that Heaven Hill dropped the age statement on Elijah Craig Small Batch. The announcement stated they changing it from a 12-year to a No Age Statement (NAS) blend of barrels that aged anywhere from eight to a dozen years.

The reaction on social media and in whiskey groups was immediate and, to say the least, vitriolic. To be fair, a portion of it was anger over the feeling of being misled. Folks were told since 2014 that the age statement would not be dropped, and then, the rumor turned into reality. The mudslinging was lobbed at everyone, but Bernie Lubbers was the biggest target by far...

You can read the rest of this article over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!