Elijah Craig 12 is a classic, affordable ($25 and below) and easy to find bourbon. It is somewhat unusual, I suppose, in being popular with both bourbon geeks and regular drinkers. It is bottled in small batches by the Heaven Hill distillery in Kentucky and is made, I believe, from a not-particularly high rye mashbill. I have tried and enjoyed it a number of times before but this is my first time paying close attention to it.
Elijah Craig 12 (47%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Maple syrup, caramel, cinnamon. Classic bourbon nose. Little bit of orange peel as well. More vanilla as it sits. Very well balanced. Gets dustier with time. Not very woody. A few drops of water bring the caramel closer to toffee.
Palate: More oak on the palate certainly but it emerges after the caramel, cinnamon and clove and a bit of cola pass through. Not a whole lot of change with time. With water the oak gets pushed back a bit and there’s more of a mocha note now. I just wish there was a little more texture/depth.
Finish: Medium. The spices and the oak linger. With more time I get more rye on the finish.
Comments: I like the nose much more than the palate but this is very nice–better with some water, I think. I wish the companies that own the Scottish distilleries (to say nothing of the Japanese) could give us whisky of this quality at this price. It does seem like there is a much smaller jump in quality from $20 to $80 in bourbon than there is in single malt Scotch–and some might say that bourbon is dodgier at the $80+ end of the market than closer to the $20 end. Granted I’m no bourbon maven, but I could be happy drinking Elijah Craig 12 and Old Weller Antique and not much else. Will things remain this way for long? I really enjoyed the Elijah Craig 18 that I got to try a couple of years ago but that disappeared and was replaced by a 20 yo that cost three times as much.
Rating: 84 points.
Thanks to Bryan F. for the sample.