Bourbon Reviews

Elijah Craig 12


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Elijah Craig was a Baptist reverend who lived out most of his days in the 18th century. Born in Virginia at some point between 1738 and 1743, Rev. Craig moved to Kentucky in 1781 in search of religious freedom. Some historians credit him with the invention of Bourbon, and being the first person to use charred barrels for storing his liquor; whether he was the first or not, he certainly was one of the early players in the field.

Having never actually had Elijah Craig bourbon before, I was at a local bar for a game of poker the other night and whilst trying to decide what to drink I spotted a near-empty bottle of Elijah Craig 12 year old on the bottom shelf. This bar is the type of place where the bottle surface is lit from underneath, which leads to the bottles being warmed up by the heat from the light bulbs below. While this is generally an undesired side effect and a sign of a poorly designed bar (such snobbery!), it really did Elijah Craig a favor – at least in my opinion.

When I got my drink, which was the very end it of the bottle and as such unusually warm, the nose was as thick and full as the air of a tropical rain forest; except full of vanilla, caramel, oak and some very ripe and gentle fruit. Absolutely extraordinary, and one of the best noses I’ve found on a bourbon to date. The palate was very similar, thick and creamy (rather than syrupy), with an earthy start followed by malty sweetness, again caramel and vanilla, oak and a touch of spice. The finish is fairly long, with more vanilla and a touch of aniseed.

As my drink lost some of its initial warmth from being stood in the cold plastic drinks holder on the cheap poker table, it seemed also to lose some of its initial thickness and the nose and palate both seemed to subside slightly; it was still absolutely lovely, of course, but I would definitely recommend drinking this whiskey warmer than you usually would.

So then, my $3.60 for a single measure was certainly well spent. With a 24oz bottle going for around $40 and containing 28 single UK measures, you can bring the per-glass price tag down to about $120 – I ordered a bottle 10 minutes ago and I’m going to keep it warm and snug, right above the boiler.

Color: Melted sugar.

Nose: Thick and warming, vanilla, caramel, oak, very ripe fruit.

Palate: Thick and creaming, earthy, malty sweetness, caramel, vanilla, oak, touch of spice.

Want to buy this whiskey? Available in: USA & World (click)UK & Europe (click)

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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1 Comment

  1. Jamie

    November 20, 2010 at 5:37 am

    I bought E12 and Bookers previously (both seemed lighter then expected.). Both did not have the LEATHERY, Tobacco/Cigar/or Ash like palate and the chewy fatty butter cremey .
    We do not have Benchmark in Australia shops if this helps so anyone recommand any affordable whiskies (any type) that do as I’m going broke on purchase that did not suit me. I’m referring to MOUTH FEEL not just the NOSE ok.

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