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Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight 12 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey

Editor’s note: We’re republishing this article from our archive as part of a reorganization of the site’s content.

Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight 12 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey
by F. Sot Fitzgerald

My first sip of whiskey many moons ago brought on a quick gag.  The stuff almost dripped out my mouth.  My friends looked on, I felt the pressure to BE A MAN.  So I swallowed it and felt the burn.  It was evil stuff- $6 a liter slop I had procured through a friend of a friend, as I was underage.

Over time I read up on whiskey, including bourbons, sour mashes, scotches, etc., and have come to a fawning approval of them.  Which isn’t to say that there aren’t some that can still choke me.  Oh no- there really are some rotten whiskeys, whiskeys so bad that the only human beings who drink more than a sip of them are sick drunks who have fried out their tastebuds and are just looking to croak themselves or stop the shakes. Happily, this is far from the case with Elijah Craig.  Named after the 18th century Reverend Elijah Craig, who, I understand, was a Baptist who founded the berg of Georgetown near Lexington then took to making hooch.

Elijah Craig comes in a lovely bottle, squat, thick and curvaceous, which shows off its light caramel, reddish color- a color derived from the whiskey’s aging in a charred oak barrel.  It’s 12 years old and a hefty but not outrageous 94 proof (47% alcohol).

Elijah Craig has a bouquet of vanilla, firm, not overbearing.   Unlike a number of whiskeys, there is no hint of alcohol ester- that uncomely stink that can best be described as surgical and chemical.  The roast from the barrels is plain to the nose, and upon tasting it has a certain creaminess to it.

Those of you who are looking to start on whiskey but are afraid to try, I urge you to buy a bottle of Elijah Craig.  A fifth is under $15 dollars, last I checked.  Pour a shot of it in a broad-mouthed glass, and give it a small stiff.  Drop a few drops of water in it then give it another sniff.  The water opens up the bouquet.  Add a few more drops so that the color is noticeably lighter.  Then have a sip.  Trust me—it won’t burn, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Once you get a real feel for it, you’ll naturally move to reduce the water, until one fine day you’ll drink it like me- straight up in small sips on a cool autumn’s night.  Like a real man, a real happy man.  (Rating ****)

Click here to order Elijah Craig 12 year Old Bourbon, and head here to learn more about Elijah Craig whiskey and other Heaven Hill Bourbons.


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