Deep in the heart of old Kentucky lies a massive distillery that has been cranking out American bourbons long before most states’ ratification. Heaven Hill Distillery is a stalwart in the whiskey world, sticking with what it knows and doing it better than almost anyone on the market. And when twice-barreled whiskeys began popping up over the last few years, Heaven Hill decided to let the trend play out a bit before they took a swing. Eventually, it was time to step to the plate, and they chose their Elijah Craig line to take the first bat.
The Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Small Batch Bourbon is the stalwart brand’s submission to the category, and it promises to deliver big taste through their selective barreling process.
Though adding a second barrel to the aging process isn’t the only way to create tasty booze, it is a fantastic method for adding additional layers of complexity to the flavor. With that in mind, the Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Small Batch Bourbon spends its lifespan in two separately treated barrels before making its way to you.
Heaven Hill describes the process and flavor this way: “Made with 18-month air-dried oak, the finishing barrel is first toasted and then flash-charred using a moderate toast temperature and toast time. An extensive research and development process resulted in a final barrel toast profile bringing forward dark sugar flavors within the wood to balance smokiness and sweetness after months of finishing. The resulting taste is big, rich, and complex with spice and pepper notes that fade into milk chocolate with a hint of smoke as the finish lingers with chocolate and baking spices.”
It’s important to note that “toasted” and the term “charred” are indeed two separate things. “Toasting” is essentially applying a lower heat level for a more extended period, which is said to bring out very different flavors in wood than charring it. Heaven Hill has developed its proprietary toasting process and then given the barrel a light char to finish it before aging.
At $50 a 750ml bottle, you might want to take it slow with this unique blend. And given its special flavor, it would make sense to stretch it out over time. Many expert reviewers see the flavor profile as well developed, complex, and worthy of the price. However, there’s a slight disconnect between the oak’s presence in the flavor and the other tasting notes, so a little time and aeration may do the trick.
Save a glass for us. We’ll be right over.