Elijah Craig 18 Year
Elijah Craig 18 Year
90 Proof, 18 Years Old
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Single Barrel #4127, Barreled on 9.16.1997. I had just turned fourteen!
So if you read my last two reviews (Elijah Craig 21 Year and Elijah Craig 23 Year), you know that I’ve said these ultra aged, single barrel releases are much more restrained, subtle, delicate (whatever you want to call it) than something like a Buffalo Trace product or even your Elijah Craig 12 Year Small Batch. These very old whiskeys have spent much longer in a barrel than 99% of the whiskeys I drink on a day to day basis, and they are definitely much different than my usual pour.
I was not a fan of the 23 Year, and while I am a fan of the 21 Year, it’s not a whiskey I need to ever buy again. But what about this re-release of the 18 Year Single Barrel? Heaven Hill hasn’t released any of this expression for three years, and in that three years I’ve heard lots, I mean lots of good things about this bourbon. Especially what a hell of a deal it is–$45 for an 18 year single barrel? You gotta be kidding me! Well, just like all things bourbon these days, the price has jumped. In this case it has jumped BIG TIME. The new MSRP is $140, and I’ve already seen it at $150, and I’m sure I’ll see it selling for more than that at some stores. What’s interesting is that while Buffalo Trace has resisted raising the MSRP for their Antique Collection and their Pappy Van Winkle line, Heaven Hill has started trying to price their limited releases to beat the secondary market. For example, they released the 20 year Stitzel-Weller juice, John E. Fitzgerald, as a 375ml bottle for $300–that’s essentially a $600 bottle of bourbon, which makes it the most expensive MSRP for a bourbon I’ve ever seen. But, crazily enough, they didn’t beat the secondary market–the secondary market value on it just went up even more. Those little 375ml bottles sell for up to $800 on the secondary, making that bottle at Pappy 23 prices, if it were a normal sized fifth. So even though they’ve upped MSRP on the Elijah Craig 18 Year, I wouldn’t be too surprised if we saw this going for close to $300 in the coming weeks.
But what about the whiskey itself? Is it any good for real? I’m happy to report that yes, yes, yes, it is fantastic. The nose is much more fun than that of its older brothers. I’m getting stewed cherry and pie crust, a nice amount of charred oak, fresh strawberry, and awesome vanilla and brown sugar that I was missing so much on the 21 Year and 23 Year. It’s not a bold nose, but it’s balanced and beautiful.
The palate is where this pour sings. Strawberry, peppery rye spice, clove, dry vanilla, brown sugar, black tea, all balanced perfectly with hard hitting oak. The finish is medium-long and pretty dry, the body is bigger than its older brothers’. The balance is the key component here. It’s an 18 year old whiskey, it’s obviously oaky as shit, but the sweeter flavors come through big time and mingle with the spicy rye (cutting any cloying quality that could appear), and the whole thing is just beautiful. This is what I have been wanting to drink. Hell yeah.
I really think this expression is the sweet spot. The spot where the sweet/spicy/woody notes have found a perfect balance. So glad I got this bottle! Now, I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to make a wish. I wish upon a star, or a barrel, or a field of corn, or whatever it takes…I wish that Heaven Hill will soon release “Elijah Craig 15 Year Barrel Proof Bourbon.” It should cost $100, but it would probably cost more like $200. Either way, is that so much to ask for?
Rating: 9.4 / 10
Bought in Johnson City, TN for $140, and yes, I’d buy it again.