Saturday, 30 June 2012

Whisky Discovery #149

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old (47% abv, OB Bottled 2011)
Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Circa £30.00 70cl
Elijah Craig 12 Year Old is listed in Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die
Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old is a true Small Batch premium Bourbon, and had that distinction before the term even existed.

It's bottled exclusively from a dumping of 70 barrels or less, and all drawn from the middle to upper floors of Heaven Hill's traditional rick houses, and the brand carries the name of the Rev. Elijah Craig, the man who is said to have discovered the method of making true Kentucky Bourbon when he stored his wares in barrels that had been charred in a fire.

All straight Bourbon whiskey must be distilled from a mash- a mixture of malt, raw grains (no less than 51 percent must be corn), yeast and water. It must be distilled at no more than 160 proof, put into barrels at no more than 125 proof, and bottled at no less than 80 proof - without the addition of any artificial colouring or flavour additives. It also must age for no less than two years in new, charred white oak barrels. This Elijah Craig is bottled at 12 years old and at 94% proof (47% abv) making it unique among U.S. Bourbons, and comes bottled in a really elegant decanter-style bottle with an oversized cork stopper.

Unlike other distilled spirits, which can add ingredients to overcome "shortcomings" in the production process, Bourbon comes out as it went into the barrel. As a result, the distillation process is as much an art as it is a science.

Elijah Craig is critically acclaimed. It was awarded a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It has twice been awarded “Best of the Best” from Whisky Magazine.

So what did I think?

Rich burnished copper coloured bourbon
This has been on my list for a while now, well ever sice I read Ian Buxton's '101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die', and when my daughter's partner received a bottle last Christmas, I was keen to get myself a dram or two to try.

Jim Murray decribed it as "About as complete a bourbon aroma as you are likely to of the most beautiful noses found anywhere in the world today. A bourbon to keep in the mouth forever."

It's a rich copper colour and certainly has a wonderful herbal vanilla nose, break through the herbs and the sweet caramel vanilla comes through stronger. There's a saltiness to the sweetness and some fruity undertones too. It has a truly magnificent nose to it.

On the palate there is an initial oily spiciness that coats the mouth. It's rich, smooth and creamy with sweet vanilla, a malty fruitiness and even a touch of aniseed.

The finish is long and spicy, a little light smoke, liquorice root and eventually a malty sweetness overcomes it all leaving my mouth salivating at the thought of another dram. This is an extremely drinkable bourbon and one I must have on my shelf soon. Good call Ian!

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