Bourbon Review

Bourbon Review: Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel is made by finishing a mature Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon a new, custom toasted barrel. The process of toasting the barrel caramelizes the wood sugars, which gives the bourbon a richer, sweeter flavor. The first release of Elijah Craig toasted barrel came in 2020 as an allocated release.

Elijah Craig bourbon is named after Reverend Elijah Craig, a Baptist preacher, educator, and entrepreneur who lived in Kentucky in the late 18th century. Craig was the first distiller to age his whiskey in new charred oak barrels. The practice is now a standard in the bourbon industry.

Craig’s distillery was located in Georgetown, Kentucky, which was then a small town on the banks of the Kentucky River. The distillery was destroyed by fire in 1798, but Craig rebuilt it and continued to produce bourbon until his death in 1808.

The Elijah Craig brand was revived in the 1980s by Heaven Hill Distilleries, which purchased the rights to the name from the heirs of Elijah Craig. The first Elijah Craig bourbon was released in 1986, and it quickly became one of the most popular bourbons on the market.

Bourbon Review: Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel
47% (94 Poof)
Age: 8-12 Years
Dark Amber
Mash Bill: 
78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye
Elijah Craig Distillery Co. 
Bardstown, KY (USA)

The Nose: Toasted caramel and burnt marshmallows, these are a few of my favorite things. Thsse two aromas are dominant from the Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel. Subsequent pulls from the glass reveals vanilla and apples.

The Taste: The initial sip is reminiscent of caramel apples. Secondary sips reveal toffee, toasted oak and a graham cracker pie crust. Despite coming in at 94 proof, the ECTB is sweet and smooth with no burn or heat. My third sip sees some chocolate on the finish that borders on fudge.

The Pairing: The Aging Room Nicaragua won the Cigar Aficionado Cigar of the Year in 2021. This year, 2023, one of the brand owners, Rafael Nodal, has released a follow up called Aging Room Nicaragua Sonata.  We opted to pair this cigar with the Toasted Barrel as its a milder Nicaraguan cigar that won’t overpower the bourbon. On its own the cigar has an earthy flavor profile.

The pairing works for this as the lighter bodied cigar compliments the bourbon. It enhances the wood notes and cancels out some of the sweetness and gives the Elijah Craig a smokey component with a nice rye like finish. It also allows some of the 94 proof heat to come out which is appreciated on a slightly chilly summer night.

The Conclusion: The secondary finish makes the bourbon sweeter, but finding this particular bottle is difficult. It’s allocated and limited but the amount produced has grown since its first release in 2020. There are some easier to find bourbons that are finished in a second barrel with a toasted finish including Old Forester 1910 and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. For me this is a bottle I will always buy when I see it, and more than one if allowed. Sadly, it’s not often that I come across it.

Score: 94
Price: $54.99 (750ml in New Hampshire)

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