Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old bourbon returns after a three year hiatus. It’s one of Heaven Hill’s few ultra-aged bourbons, along with the older Elijah Craig 23-Year-Old bourbon. The reason for it’s earlier hiatus was lack of aged whiskey stock, which is no surprise given the current boom that bourbon and other American whiskies are enjoying. As before, Elijah Craig 18 yo is a single barrel release with an SRP of about $120. My bottle is from barrel 4150. It’s contents were barreled on 9/24/97, which means I was a senior in high school when this was put away to mature. Geez, I’m feel old.
The entire lineup of Elijah Craig seems to make oak a major component of it’s aroma and flavor profile. The bottles of Elijah Craig 12-year-old, 21-year-old and Barrel Proof I own have a nice dose of oak, but masterfully kept in check. I’ve been awaiting this release since I saw the labels and boxes labeled Elijah Craig 18 during a behind-the-scenes tour of Heaven Hill this past spring.
The nose on EC18 starts sweet with creamy caramel, followed by toasted oak, roasted corn and a touch of leather. The entry on the palate is spicy. A caramel sweetness soon develops, but is tempered by slightly drying oak. Past that I get corn pudding, nuts, and sweet mint leaves. The sweet corn note carries over into the long bittersweet finish, turning dry after a few moments.
I’ve wanted to try Elijah Craig 18-year-old for a long time, and was disappointed to see it disappear from the market. Now that it’s back, and I’ve spent a little time with a bottle, I can say it’s quite elegant. The oak is kept in balance with the whiskey’s sweet caramel, corn and spice notes. Heaven Hill has done a superb job at selecting single barrels worthy of the Elijah Craig 18-year-old label. Outstanding whiskey.