September 3, 2020
Buffalo Trace and Elijah Craig Small Batch seem fairly similar on paper. These are two mid-level Kentucky bourbons from storied distilleries with similar ABV, mash bills (probably), ages (probably), and prices. Outside of that, it is generally known that the bourbons coming from these two distilleries are quite different; and for whatever reason, these distilleries have taken wildly different trajectories in the past few years. Nearly everything Buffalo Trace has exploded in popularity, making even the standard Buffalo Trace hard to come by in many places. Elijah Craig on the other hand, formerly 12 years old but now non-age-stated, has never come close to Buffalo Trace in popularity and is readily available pretty much everywhere.
For my own education, I figured that I would compare Buffalo Trace and the non-age-stated Elijah Craig Small Batch to better understand just how different these actually are. Let’s find out in this Buffalo Trace vs Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon comparison.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each bourbon.
Buffalo Trace and Elijah Craig Small Batch undoubtedly are very different. Before any drinking, eyeing these bourbons already shows that Elijah Craig is darker, and it carries throughout the scents and flavors. Even though both have comparable rye content (~10%), Buffalo Trace is more rye forward with licorice, tropical fruitiness, and fino sherry-like qualities of green grapes and oak. The roasted oak and wood spice take a back seat. Elijah Craig goes in a different direction with roasted sugar, funky vanilla, dark fruit, oak, and spice notes with a lighter nuttiness.
I’m having a tough time picking a winner because these two bourbons have such different personalities and I like them both. I don’t think one is really better than the other, it depends on what you want. Pick Elijah Craig when you want something dark, oaky, spicy, a little funky, and richer; pick Buffalo Trace if you want something a little more delicate and fruity. Elijah Craig Small Batch is like an oaked red wine and Buffalo Trace is like a fino sherry. Both are solid, but neither are spectacular. I may not have picked a winner, but hopefully you gained some knowledge.