Although long anticipated by bourbon fans, only yesterday did Heaven Hill officially confirm that Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon is back after a three year hiatus due to inventory shortages. A past winner of the “Best Bourbon” award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel was first introduced by Heaven Hill in 1994, and quickly gained major status at a time when super-premium Bourbon offerings were few and far between. As demand for the rare whiskey grew there were simply not enough 18-year-old barrels that met the Master Distiller’s strict quality standards, so the bottling was discontinued in 2012.
Since then, stocks have come back into line, allowing Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel to again be offered on a limited national basis at a suggested retail price of $120 for the 750ml bottle. Heaven Hill also announced it is re-releasing a limited number of barrels of Elijah Craig 23-Year-Old Single Barrel, which has been bottled, also in limited quantities, since 2013 and carries a suggested retail price of $199.
Heaven Hill will be releasing only about 15,000 750ml bottles of Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel this fall, packed in a three bottle case, and it will be available in most major metro markets nationwide on an allocated basis. The face label has been slightly altered since its last appearance in 2012, with the logotype now echoing the same Elijah Craig typographic treatment as the Elijah Craig Small Batch, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and the Elijah Craig 23-Year-Old Single Barrel. The new Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel now presents a consistent family look with the 23-Year-Old Single Barrel, with the former using a blue and copper colored face label and the latter a green and copper color palette.
The selection process for the Elijah Craig Single Barrel is one of the most stringent at Heaven Hill. From an aging inventory of 1.1 million barrels, the second largest American Whiskey holdings in the world, Master Distillers Craig Beam and Denny Potter select only barrels that have rested at low storage, and then further choose only those that meet their strict nosing and taste criteria. While taste nuances will vary slightly from one barrel to the other, as they should in a single barrel offering, in general they have selected for complex, multi-layered taste profiles that balance the 18 years in new charred oak with sweet and spicy grain notes. As befits a Bourbon that has seen 72 variable Kentucky seasons, the finish is long and warm.
The Elijah Craig 23-Year-Old Single Barrel is even more limited in quantity than the 18-Year-Old. The additional five years of maturation gives the 23-Year-Old a honeyed, dry oakiness, while still retaining the spicy and long finish.
“We at Heaven Hill have been offering aged Bourbons and single barrel bottlings as old as 18, 23, or even 27 years, for longer than anyone else,” noted Susan Wahl, Senior Brand Manager for Whiskeys at Heaven Hill Brands. “Our experience in this arena, along with our renowned quality standards and inventory of over one million aging barrels, means we can select and bottle extra-aged Bourbons that are unlike any others in the world, and provide a unique tasting experience for the true aficionado. This is really showcased in the Elijah Craig 18 and 23-Year-Old Single Barrel bottlings.”