Review: Elijah Craig Single Barrel 20 Years Old Bourbon

Recently named American Whiskey of the Year by Whisky Advocate, this rarity from Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig brand has some big expectations to live up to. Distilled and barreled in 1991, it’s been lingering for 20 years before being bottled for your drinking pleasure.

As John Hansell notes in the blog post linked above, Heaven Hill is one of the masters of dealing with very old American whiskeys — the annual Evan Williams Single Barrel releases are some of the most anticipated bottles to arrive each year at Drinkhacker HQ.

WA‘s praise (based on a limited edition barrel released last fall) is hard to argue with. With Elijah Craig 20 Year, you get a Bourbon full of flavor: the typical vanilla, wood oil, peaches, and a distinct raisin character. Plenty of wood here, as you’d expect with a whiskey this old, but it’s balanced by all these other components. Later on, you get more of a fruitcake character from the whiskey, those raisins taking on cinnamon and nutmeg notes, with a candied finish. The wood’s on the nose, the fruit bats clean-up. Lovely lovely lovely.

90 proof. Reviewed Barrel #1, barreled on 3/13/1991. About 80 barrels/1300 bottles produced.

A / $130 / heavenhill.com

Elijah Craig 20 Year Old Single Barrel 1991 Review: Elijah Craig Single Barrel 20 Years Old Bourbon

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5 Responses to Review: Elijah Craig Single Barrel 20 Years Old Bourbon

  1. I PERSONALLY OWN 12 BOTTLES OF THE ELIJAH CRAIG 20 YR OLD, OR 1% OF THE WORLDS SUPPLY OF THIS VERY FINE SPIRIT, I AM A AVID BOURBON CRITIC, AND THIS IS ONE OF THE FINEST TO COME OUT, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE 21 YR OLD HRISCH RYE IN MANY YEARS. I NORMALLY DRINK PVW 20 OR 23, AND THIS RATES RIGHT UP THERE WITH IT!

  2. It is of course nice being able to brag about owning1% of the worlds supply, but I think you had a bourbon too many when you wrote your response. ”About 80 barrels/1300 bottles produced”. So you think there are only 1300/80 bottles in each cask? That would make only about 16 bottles per cask. If you have ever been in a distillery, you’ll know that casks are bigger than that. Of course what ”About 80 barrels/1300 bottles produced” means is that there will be 80 x 1300 = 104000 bottles on the market. To own 1% of the worlds supply you would need to own 1040 bottles; a little bit more than the 12 bottles you currently own. Rather than worrying about what percentage of the worlds supply you own, just enjoy what is a great bourbon! It doesn’t taste less well knowing that many other people will enjoy the same bourbon that you do. At least, for me it doesn’t.

  3. Rene – Per the distillery, there are only 1300 bottles of this, not a hundred thousand. Here’s a quote from the press release from when it came out:

    “BARDSTOWN, KY—Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the country’s largest independent family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer, announces a new limited edition release of Elijah Craig 20-Year-Old Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Heaven Hill, who holds the world’s second largest inventory of Bourbon and the most “extra-aged” barrels in its rickhouses, will be offering the new 20-Year-Old bottling of Elijah Craig Single Barrel in limited quantities to selected markets across the country on a one-time basis. The new bottling will retail for approximately $130 for the 750ml size, but less than 80 specially selected barrels will be dumped, yielding fewer than 1,300 bottles.”

    Yes, 1300 bottles sounds slim (though after 20 years the angel’s share can be intense), but perhaps not all of the batch was actually bottled and/or sold.

  4. PS The typical whiskey barrel can hold about 53 gallons (200 liters), or 266 bottles if it was completely full. At just 3% evaporation per year there would only be 29 gallons left after 20 years. Just an example…

  5. Is this available as a resale item anywhere?

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