Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon review

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 47%

Composition: 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley

Aged: NAS, but probably around 8 years old

Color: 1.4/2.0 on the color scale (tawny)

Price: $25-35 MSRP

From the Heaven Hill website:

“Long before the term Small Batch even existed, our Master Distillers were hand-selecting just the right number of barrels to make Elijah Craig. This expertise and attention to detail give Elijah Craig Small Batch the right balance of rich flavor and full body. Each small batch carries a signature warm spice and subtle smoke flavor. A combination that belongs in any Bourbon fan’s regular rotation.”

 

Company Website

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon overview

I have fond memories of Elijah Craig Small Batch. Elijah Craig 12 Year Small Batch (RIP) was the first bourbon I ever bought for myself way back when I was just getting into bourbon. Oh how things have changed. Since 2016, Elijah Craig Small Batch has been non-age-stated (probably 8ish years old now) in order for Heaven Hill to maintain its older stocks for Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Parker’s Heritage, and whatever they’re concocting in Bardstown, although I hope at some point an age statement will return.

 

Elijah Craig Small Batch is a very accessible and relatively affordable bourbon, so at some point you’ve probably seen this and already considered buying a bottle. In this Elijah Craig Small Batch review, let’s find out if this shelf staple is worth picking up for the first time, the second time, or even keeping on your shelf at all times.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon smell

Elijah Craig Small batch starts off with some dry, grassy, and sweet nuttiness with caramel, cold brew coffee, chocolate, and citrus. This is definitely Heaven Hill bourbon, but it’s not as nutty as I expected. There are some lighter burnt bread and herbal notes with hints of peach, but it’s light to moderate at best. After 35 minutes of resting in the glass, there isn’t much heat either, but that’s to be expected from 47% ABV. It’s a little closed-off but so far so good.


Swirling brings out this sweet and grassy note – honey, vanilla, dried grass, citrus, eucalyptus, apple, coffee grounds, oak, cinnamon, and just a little something floral. The nuttiness initially fades away, but returns after a minute or two. I like that nutty funk, so I’m not put off by it. The roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, and chocolate provide just enough rich darkness to make it interesting and nice. It actually becomes more concentrated, dark, and interesting as the bourbon dries on the sides of the glass. Overall, it comes together into a decently rich and satisfying, but not quite amazing, nose that I actually like. If I want more, I’ll instead reach for Elijah Craig Barrel Proof.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon taste & aftertaste

Elijah Craig Small Batch is sweet with caramel and vanilla followed by some nuttiness, citrus, cherry, licorice, oak, cinnamon, and clove. The flavors aren’t big, deep, or complex, but they have some richness and depth without much heat. “Chewing” brings out the sweet caramel and vanilla again followed by oak, grass, citrus, peach, apple, cinnamon, licorice, anise, and some honey roasted peanut butter. This is sweet, dark, and oaky up front followed by fruity, herbal, and nutty undertones. For some reason, I’m not getting much of the vanilla funk that I’ve gotten before with this and with Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, but it is what it is. The mouthfeel is fairly thick as well, an added bonus. This is quintessential bourbon with solid flavors that aren’t light or boring.

 

Caramel sweetness follows into the finish with some vanilla, oak tannins, coffee grounds, dried citrus peel, and mint. After a minute it fades into sliced apple with lightly dry citrus peel, licorice, and dark chocolate. After “chewing”, the finish is a balanced mix of honey, oak tannins, and mint that eventually ends with light citrus, apple and pear peel, and oak tannins. It’s quite a nice finish to a solid bourbon.

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Mid shelf+

I’m enjoying Elijah Craig Small Batch, actually more than I anticipated. While it’s not amazing, it still holds its own as a very drinkable and complex-enough bourbon that has a pretty balanced mix of caramel, vanilla, fruit, oak, and herbal notes. It’s solid quintessential bourbon that’s more rich and interesting than I expected (but I still sorely miss the 12 year small batch). The Heaven Hill nuttiness is certainly still there, but it’s not as pungent as I remember. If you dislike peanuts, you’re probably always going to dislike Elijah Craig Small Batch, but I’ll all for it.

As a “budget bourbon”, Elijah Craig has its own unique Heaven Hill-like profile, so it’s not a close replacement for something like Buffalo Trace. Putting that aside, Elijah Craig Small Batch is a worthy everyday drinker that balances quality, price, and everywhere availability. A major distillery putting out a high volume yet high quality and affordable product is always welcome and needed. For me personally, I prefer this over whiskeys such as Woodford Reserve, Gentleman Jack, and Wild Turkey 101. If you want something even bigger and better than Elijah Craig Small Batch, then go straight for Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, that is amazing.

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