Golf+whiskey mania continues this month with the arrival of a special release of Elijah Craig, designed to pay homage to the 2023 Ryder Cup. This isn’t just another spin on Elijah Craig Barrel Proof but rather quite a unique product, starting with fully-matured Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon that is then finished in, and I quote, “European oak barrels that have been toasted with a profile inspired by those used in the Lazio wine growing region.”
European oak — does that mean French? Hungarian? We checked with the folks at Elijah Craig and neither is correct. These barrels are from — wait for it — Slovakia.
And what does Lazio, Italy have to do with golf? It’s the region that contains Rome, where the 2023 Ryder Cup kicks off later this month. Just a little context from Heaven Hill:
The European oak, with its ability to integrate flavors subtly and softly, effortlessly balances the sweetness and spiciness of the Lazio-inspired toast profile and the elevated bright fruit character from the fully-matured Elijah Craig. This release represents a marriage of the U.S. Team’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – America’s native spirit – with the famed wine growing region and host city of the European Team.
Speaking about the release, Max Stefka, Group Product Director, Elijah Craig Bourbon, said: “We are thrilled to raise a glass to the 2023 Ryder Cup with this new limited-edition release of Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel. The unique marriage of toasted European Oak and our extra-aged Kentucky Bourbon offers a taste experience fit for one of the world’s greatest sporting events.”
Guy Kinnings, Ryder Cup Director, added: “Elijah Craig’s award-winning Bourbon is going to further elevate the spectator experience in Rome, and their new limited-edition bottle will both taste incredible and become a sought-after souvenir commemorating the greatest team contest in golf.”
Jeff Price, Chief Commercial Officer, PGA of America, said “The PGA of America is ecstatic to have Elijah Craig as part of the 2023 Ryder Cup experience in Rome. This extraordinary limited-edition release of the Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel is the perfect way to celebrate the world’s premier golf competition.”
That’s a damn lot of quotes! Let’s put down the clubs and pick up a glass and give this new whiskey a shot.
Elijah Craig has made a Toasted Barrel expression before, which I declared a quite sweet whiskey with prominent notes of chocolate and vanilla custard. This is a different animal, though it has some family resemblance here. For starters, there’s ample sweetness, but it’s not overblown in the way the standard Toasted Barrel expression can be, the moderately racy nose punching with some peppery heat and an insistent baking spice quality. It’s spicier but feels more balanced, mellowing the barrel influence with fruit instead of more overtly sweet notes.
The palate retreats just a bit toward a realm of butterscotch, vanilla, and chocolate, though again this is tempered enough to avoid become cloying. Slightly nutty with an element of cherry, the whiskey is quite soothing, and far less punchy than the nose would suggest. Things ultimately even out and take a fairly straightforward ride toward the finish, which sees vanilla and a pecan sandie character lingering, though again never becoming overblown in the sugar department. Some notes of tea leaf, present in the standard Toasted Barrel expression, are evident here on the finish after some time in glass.
This isn’t one of the more nuanced expressions I’ve encountered from Elijah Craig, but damn if it isn’t incredibly easy to drink. Maybe the kind of thing you’d like to have waiting for you after 18 holes of golf, I dunno.
A- / $99 / elijahcraig.com