Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, 12-years-old
My interest in bourbon grows!
I think in a lot of o ways Bourbon really is one of the most versatile spirits out there with the exception of something neutral like a Vodka. I only say this because there wouldn’t be any way I would sit and sip Vodka, but it’s great to bump up a Cocktail. Bourbon, you can have neat, rocks or in a cocktail and it can shine in all 3 scenarios. Scotch tends to be too overpowering in a lot of cocktails which is why you don’t see it nearly as often as Bourbon, Rye or Irish Whiskies.
I, of course, am not sharing anything about mixology right now, I’m talking Bourbon for the sake of sipping, and today’s target is Elijah Craig’s 12yo small batch, a surprise bottle for me and one that I’m pretty glad came my way. I call this one an ‘apology bottle’. My folks recently were in the USA and despite their intention to bring me back a bottle of Bourbon, they failed. Details are not important (as I don’t really remember) but in response, they simply gave me a gift card and I headed to the NSLC and bought 3 bottles of Whisky (this one, and two Irish Whiskies I’ll be reviewing soon as well). I bought it sort of on spec, I had heard it was good stuff, the price was reasonable and it was moving out of the Winter, and after the Winter I tend to put a lot of the Single-malt scotches away for a little while.
Heaven Hill Distilleries is located in Kentucky and is the producer of many different brands of spirits. Notably, Evan Williams (which I reviewed a while back) as well as some ryes, rums, vodkas and all that funny business.
For Elijah Craig, the 12-year-old Small Batch for all intents and purposes seems to be their flagship Bourbon. At least it’s their first one, in small batches that carry an Age Statement. I, like many love seeing an age statement. I like to kind of know what I’m paying for. With Bourbon, it’s not so serious I don’t think, and for me, one of the things about this one is that I tend to like a Bourbon a little younger than how I like my Scotch Whiskies. I love a scotch in that 15-year range, my Bourbons, hovering around 8 to 10.
The trend (perhaps only my perception of it) of small batch bourbon continues to really make an impact on me. I know that a lot of folks out there want their drinks to have consistency, and I understand that. The good thing is that there are a lot of very good Bourbons, Ryes, and other Whiskies out on the market, with a good price tag that is not small batch, and you can have that staple in your bar for a company or to keep a nice consistent cocktail going. Small Batch variations to me are far more exciting. Tasting the Evan Williams small batches for the last 3 or 4 years to me was a good education, same with Booker Bourbon’s variations as well. They are good, relatively always and not so vastly superior or different that it makes no turn away from the product. This example here is one that I am going to start following because I think it’s a really nice example of a drinkable, easy to taste and smell Bourbon that you can probably offer to company and it not blow their brains out, even if it is at %47.
The real show on EC 12 is in the nose which is about as strong a nose as I’ve had on a bourbon since Eagle Rare a number of offerings back, and I haven’t had the chance to pick up one of the more recent batches. There is lots of toasted and spiced oak. It’s a sweet nose, mostly of toffee, Rye grain, caramel and a candy apple note, ripe banana. With a little time, cloves, vanilla, crushed almonds and a cola note with vanilla bean, like real vanilla coke.
On the pallet, just around full bodied and rather sweet. Oranges, Grapefruit, Oaky and cereal notes continue Orange pith and Lemon zest. It is moderately spicy with Peppery, nutmeg, and lots of sweet vanilla. Lastly, as it got more time a nice little pinch of menthol. The Finish has a good length to it (medium plus) with cola, mint, spicy cinnamon and all the way through the oak is present but not overpowering.
Overall, a very strong offering of bourbon, it is in some ways, 2 dimensional as I personally would like a little more complexity on the pallet as it develops. It’s a nose heavy bourbon, with a strong finish to it. I like to think the journey of this bourbon is one that starts out very strong, loses its sense of itself but finishes strong. I would also highly recommend this with just a touch of water as it helps to sooth the oak influence, and for me, it really bought those 12 years into balance with the sweetness.
Next week on CWL, we’re going to be heading off to Scotland, the Highlands of Scotland with an outstanding Single Malt from Balblair