Saturday, January 30, 2021

Elijah Craig Small Batch Single Barrel Hand Selected for Illinois Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $30
- 94 Proof
- Barrel No. 6191649
- Warehouse: X
- Kentucky

Without fail, whenever I'm at a grocery store, any grocery store, I make it a point to do a quick scan of their whiskey selection. I make trips to my local Jewel at least twice a week if not more, and pretty much every time the whiskey selection remains the same. However, one time I notice that the Buffalo Trace that was there had a gold sticker on it, and sure enough it was a Jewel-Osco single barrel pick. And so, I learned, you just never know.

This time, I was doing a quick run to Meier for a few things, and as I made my obligatory turn down the liquor aisle, I saw a display of Elijah Craig. Nothing out of the ordinary, for sure. But, when I looked at the bottles on each shelf of this display, about half of them were labeled "Single Barrel Selected By: Hand Selected for Illinois."  Now, I have no idea what this actually means. It doesn't say it was selected by Meier. Perhaps by the distributor?  I really have no idea, and admittedly, I have done no research on the issue whatsoever. My research consisted entirely of product testing.

The nose had all the traditional characteristics you'd expect to find from Elijah Craig. I got toffee and a bit of vanilla. It had just a light touch of anise spice and even some dark chocolate notes. It also had some woody notes, kind of a light blend of walnut, oak and char. While it all blended well, the nose was fairly thin and somewhat hard to detect.

The flavor was perhaps even more traditional than the nose. I got heavy doses of caramel and vanilla. In fact, it was almost hard to pull other flavors out. While it was on the sweeter side, it was a bit more subdued than it might initially sound. 

That sweetness, luckily, was balanced by some of those other flavors that, while not prominent, were there enough to do the trick. I got a bit of orange peel that added not only some bright citrus notes to the whiskey, but also a touch of bitterness to help counter some of that sweetness.  I also got a touch of the oak and char that I got on the nose to again add another light component to sort of counter the sweetness.

The finish was very much like an old fashioned for me. It had the caramel notes of the bourbon along with the orange bitters. In this way the sweetness of the bourbon really worked. There was that light touch of char on the finish as well, adding another, almost light smoky layer to the finish.

All in all, this was a decent bottle, and I don't know that it's significantly better than standard Elijah Craig.  That said, it was fun to find the random single barrel selection in a place where I wouldn't have expected it, and I'll continue to make those obligatory detours down the liquor aisle of my grocery store, just in case . . .

Grade: B

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