Elijah Craig 21 Year
Elijah Craig 21 Year
90 Proof, 21 Years Old
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Single Barrel #20, Barreled on 11.26.1990. I was seven years old!
Very nice, if restrained, nose on this bourbon. It’s a grassy and dry nose with a lot of oak on it, but there is some cool stuff going on in the background–honey, honey suckle, cut straw, light brown sugar and vanilla (but both of these sweeter notes fall pretty flat up against the oak). The rye comes through big time, especially for only being 13% of the mash bill.
The palate of the 21 year is nice. It’s a little dry for me, the long years in the barrel have really subdued the sweeter notes from the wood but kept the more earthy ones. I get a tiny bit of that same strawberry I got on the 18 year, but much more subtle, and I hardly get any caramel or vanilla, which I’d really like to see for balance. This is a medium-light bodied whiskey, as most 90 proof whiskeys are. I prefer a more full bodied whiskey, but this is a nice, delicate one, and I can appreciate that. The finish is medium length, dry, and a little spicy. I really enjoy the rye coming through so much, it keeps the oak from being the only prominent flavor. The wood presence is there for sure, but the char flavor is less char and more light smoke. Like a stack of firewood that just got lit on fire, if you could taste that.
This is a very restrained whiskey. None of the flavors are exploding in your mouth. They just kind of hang out there and then fade away. I guess age in a barrel can do that. I like this whiskey a lot, but I’m not sure I’d buy it again at this price point, and especially not at the prices I’ve seen it go for. Maybe I’m spoiled by all the cool, exploding with flavor, barrel strength, finished in some other barrel, or whatever else bourbons and ryes on the market right now, but this bottle was a little subdued for my taste. Still, I’m glad to have been able to drink this and share this with some friends.
As I said in my Elijah Craig 18 Year review, 18 years seems to be the sweet spot for Heaven Hill for these expressions. I don’t know anything about what warehouse they are pulling their barrels from or anything, and of course we must remember these are single barrel releases, so they can vary from bottle to bottle, but overall the 21 year and (to a greater extent) the 23 year seem like they just spent too long in the rickhouse.
Rating: 8.1 / 10
Bought near Greenvile, SC for $200…though saw it for $140 before and passed it up, and then it was gone :(