Friday, July 16, 2021

Elijah Craig 18-Year Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon - 2020

- $150
- 90 Proof
- 18 Years
- Barrel No. 5244
- Kentucky

I've said it before, but I love Elijah Craig 18. There's no question that due to the age, it imparts a certain amount of oakiness into the bourbon. It can be a bit try, sometimes a bit tannic and even a little bitter. But, what I've always loved about Elijah Craig 18 is the way it handles that oak, making it a part of the flavor profile but never allowing it to take over. It's for this reason that this has become one of my favorite whiskeys.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for something sweet, which often leads me to a bourbon, or even a wheated bourbon in particular. Sometimes I'm in the mood for spice, leading me to rye, or smokiness, leading me to my Scotch collection. And, sometimes I'm in the mood for a little bit of oak. That's why I always have at least one bottle of Elijah Craig 18 on hand, to scratch that itch whenever it appears. I don't make my way through these bottles quickly, as I don't get that itch that often, but I certainly do find my way to the bottom of the bottle eventually.

On the nose, I did notice those oak tannins right away. However, it came across sweeter than expected, sweeter than previous bottles I've had. It had a sort of maple syrup and graham cracker quality to it. It reminded me of pecan pie, but toned down on the sweetness.  It also had a bit of cinnamon spice to it, and all of this played really well with the tannins, which really provided more of that pecan nuttiness to the pecan pie than anything.

While the oak was immediately noticeable on the nose, that wasn't necessarily the case on the palate.  In fact, the first thing I noticed when I took my first sip was a delicious milk chocolate note. That was accompanied by a light, nutty bitterness on the tip of my tongue, but that seemed to go away fairly quickly.

In addition to that creamy milk chocolate note, some of the more traditional bourbon notes that I love made their way forward. I got a smooth and rich toffee note, certainly darker and richer than caramel, but with that same softness. It also had a light burnt sugar note that I really enjoyed. 

I even got some fruit notes on the flavor as well, and while I couldn't immediately put my thumb on it, I think I ultimately concluded it was a sort of a candied cherry note that worked perfectly with everything else. In fact, that candied cherry note stuck around on the finish as well, along with some spicy cinnamon and a healthy amount of that milk chocolate that I was getting up front. It was only on the finish that the tannins really re-emerged, but that bitterness seemed to complement everything else.

This is a completely biased review (as they all are, which is why whiskey reviews are stupid). I knew going in I was going to love this, because I've loved every bottle of Elijah Craig 18 I've ever had. Sure, the price is steep, but I'm still grabbing these every chance I get.

Grade: A

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