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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Elijah Craig Hy-Vee Barrel Pick

It always helps to strike up a conversation and make friends with the store manager. My good friend, Jason, is no exception. He’s been able to share when some great store picks have arrived, including some outstanding Old Forester and Maker’s Mark selections with humorous names. Recently, he shared when a private barrel of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof would be arriving, appropriately named in time for the holidays, “Son of a Nutcracker”.

The Father of Bourbon 

Bourbon history is full of lore and legends, including the story of the Father of Bourbon, Elijah Craig. A Baptist preacher, explorer, and farmer, Craig led more than 600 of his followers into what would later become Kentucky. In 1782, he settled near what is now Georgetown, Kentucky. There, on the banks of the Elkhorn Creek, he began distilling surplus grains into corn whiskey that would later age and become bourbon. Today, Heaven Hill honors Craig with a bourbon bearing his name. For more on the history of Elijah Craig, check out our earlier review on the original small batch bourbon

The Tasting 


Elijah Craig bourbons share the signature, flagship Heaven Hill mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. This store barrel pick is from barrel number 6694889. It was aged for 9 years and is bottled uncut, straight from the barrel at a hefty 118.6 proof. 

Eye: There is an abundance of deep amber-colored, lacy legs on the inside of my Glencairn glass. 

Nose: There is a rush of vanilla, caramelized sugar, and a host of Christmas baking spices present.

Palate: Thick and creamy on the palate. Vanilla and brown sugar lead the way, followed by a swell of pepper and clove spice to let you know this is every bit of 118.6 proof.  

Finish: Long and spicy, well-balanced with vanilla, cinnamon red-hot candy spice, and sweet, charred oak . 

Overall: Jason and his team at the Bloomington Hy-Vee have picked a very good barrel. The first time I tasted this, it felt quite hot - hotter than what the proof might have otherwise suggested. Subsequent pours have allowed me to pull out some sweeter notes that balance the spice. The mouthfeel on this is also exceptional. Some bourbons today can feel thin or watery; this one offers a palate-covering experience with the non-chill filtration, allowing more of the natural oils and esters to remain. The 9-year age statement was also a welcome addition. Thanks again, Jason, for picking a great barrel for us to enjoy!

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