Elijah Craig Barrel Proof





Class:  Kentucky Straight Bourbon


Reviewer:  Bobby Long

Here it is, the runner up for 2017's Whiskey of the Year as chosen through popular vote by all of you!  The Elijah Craig bourbon brand was introduced by Heaven Hill Distillery in the mid-1980's, and like so many American whiskeys, is named after some prolific historical figure who made an impact on the American whiskey industry.  As legend has it, Rev. Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister during the late-18th to early-19th century in what is now Kentucky.  Fast forward to what's important for American whiskey and you learn that he was allegedly the first person to age corn spirit in charred oak barrels.  This innovation has earned his name a spot in the annals of American whiskey history, as well as on the label of a major Kentucky straight bourbon.

Heaven Hill Distillery is itself a behemoth of an operation, distilling at the Bernheim distillery in Louisville, KY, which it moved to from Bardstown (where its warehouses, bottling line, and HQ are still located) after a massive fire in 1996 destroyed over 90,000 barrels of aging whiskey as well as most of the distillery.  Heaven Hill was founded in 1935 by the Shapira family, and is still family owned today.  It shares a close relationship with the Jim Beam Distillery, and has had a member of the Beam family serve as Master Distiller since Earl Beam was hired to the position in 1946 (currently, his son Parker Beam is Master Distiller).

Heaven Hill produces a plethora of spirits in general, and whiskeys in particular, including Evan Wiliams, Old Fitzgerald, Henry McKenna, Larceny, Parker's Heritage, Bernheim Wheat, Rittenhouse Rye, Pikesville Rye, and its own namesake label.  The Elijah Craig line of bourbons includes a mid-shelf non-age stated small batch, limited release 18, 21, and 23 year, and 12 year barrel proof small batch.  The barrel proof bourbon has been enjoyed by in-the-know bourbon enthusiasts since 2013, but has recently hit a wave of popularity after receiving a few prestigious awards in 2017.


  • Batch C917
  • Mash bill of 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley (this is the standard mash for all of Heaven Hill's non-wheated bourbons)
  • 12 Year Age Statement
  • Bottled at 65.5% ABV (131 Proof)

Nose: Buttery cream and vanilla with big, rich oak and toffee backbone, alongside spices from the barrel and a note similar to that of a root beer.

Palate: Bold cream and vanilla similar to the nose.  The vanilla is like a frothy root beer or a fresh cream soda.  The oak is assertive and further carried by the proof. It further develops into more dominating vanilla extract and soft spices, similar to a yellow sponge cake. Very drinkable even with the high ABV.

Finish: A big burst of vanilla rushes to the front with a bit of caramel and a huge dose of oak. It transitions into creamed sweet corn for a finish that is seemingly neverending.

Score:  93/100

Buying Recommendation:  Buy it now!  I can’t stress to you enough the importance of not leaving it on the shelf and hoping it will be there later. This stuff started at $49.99 and its roughly $65-70 most places nowadays. Don’t let the price deceive you; this is a premium bourbon that can compete with damn near anything on the market. 

The Rating Scale

At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92).  This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys.  Here is how the scale breaks down:

1-49:  Varying degrees of bad

55:  Average

60-69:  Better than average

70-79:  solid/good

80-89:  excellent

90+:  truly exceptional

All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.

Bourbon Specialist

All Time Favorite Whiskey: Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel 9 Year

Daily Drinkers: Booker’s Bourbon, Old Ezra 7 Year

Bobby is a self-proclaimed high proof enthusiast. Bobby has always been drawn to high proofs; in college, it was a fairly common sight to see him drinking Everclear straight from the bottle on Saturday evenings at Theta Chi’s Zeta Lambda chapter. Bobby naturally transitioned to drinking more whiskey, and started seeking out more complex whiskeys in his mid 20’s. His whiskey obsession really picked up after he tasted Booker’s and Jefferson’s Reserve. Bobby is a huge fan of bourbon and more recently rye whiskeys, with much to learn yet about scotch. The sweet heat of bourbon and rye is Bobby’s biggest draw.

With a bachelors degree from Westminster College in political science and minor in history, he has worked with spectrum disorder kids and adults for 10 years. When not working with kids or having a glass with friends Bobby is probably fishing, playing video games, shooting targets, playing basketball or spending time with his fiancé. Bobby is easily identified as the short, opinionated guy that is on a mission to find the richest most complex whiskeys the world has to offer.

4 thoughts on “Elijah Craig Barrel Proof”

  1. ECBP has been a personal favorite of mine for awhile now, even before it’s awards. Whenever I find one I buy it, they are that good. I have tasted B517 side-by-side with another very popular barrel proof Bourbon in EH Taylor BP, Elijah Craig wins for me.

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