December 12, 2009

Elijah Craig 12 Year Review

Elijah Craig is distilled by Heaven Hill, in Louisville, KY. It's 94 proof, and aged for 12 years. It's age is what make Elijah Craig unique - 12 years is a long time for bourbon to spend in a barrel, and if not aged correctly, the result could be acrid, undrinkable bourbon. Of course, that's not the case with Elijah Craig 12 year (nor for its older brother, Elijah Craig 18 year).

EC 12 is deep amber in color, with a healthy reddish tint taken from the charred wood during its time in the rackhouse. The nose is sweet and sooty. Behind the sootiness is a lushness, a ripeness, like juicy dark fruit. It's robust, not dry. It reminds me of a waterlogged forest floor - not because it smells like one - but because it's gives off such a thick moistness.

Mouthfeel isn't watery or oily, but rather viscous. The taste is complex. You definitely get the charred sootiness from the barrel, but is tempered with a fatty sweetness. Next to the sweetness is the dark, ripe fruit suggested in the nose and a smooth oak note that, again, makes the barrel aging obvious. The sootiness and sweetness and fruitiness are Elijah Craig's heavy characteristics, and they are woven together by some subtle flavors of hay and fresh crispness. It finishes with a dry, tannic burn, completing the range of the bourbon's flavor.

Elijah Craig 12 year is complex and thought provoking. At the center of it's fatty richness is a crisp lightness like a dry white wine. It proves its age without making you pay the price for it, and surprises your mouth with its intricacies. Elijah Craig 12 year is a stand-out, and will teach you a thing or two about how bourbon is more that just whiskey.