Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 Year - 750ML
Warming and deliciously rich, Elijah Craig 18 Year starts off incredibly strong. Orange, chocolate, toasted oak, honey, vanilla, and custard form an aroma that leaps from the glass. Its sweetness is perfectly tempered against hearty oak notes creating an amazingly balanced nose.
Equal amounts of vanilla and oak form the palate’s foundation, with light brown sugar, caramel, and a fruit salad-like pop of sweetness joining in. The oak remains throughout, but is kept in check thanks to the palate’s fruitier side. The result is a very likable medium-bodied palate that is a crowd-pleaser at heart.
Heavy oak pulls forward during the finish and quickly overtakes many of the palate’s fruitier flavors. There’s a dankness that lingers, and while it’s not overpowering, it is quite noticeable. It doesn’t completely derail the finish, but takes an excellent bourbon down a notch.
Outside of its age statement, Elijah Craig 18 Year has always suffered from making a lasting impression. It often straddles the line between good and great, but it's rare to come across a particular bottle that’s really exciting. Elijah Craig 18 Year’s impact is also muted thanks to the continued impressive showings from Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. It doesn’t help that high proof bourbons are still very much in vogue, and the 18 Year’s 90 proof just seems lacking and a heldover relic from the past.
As a result, year after year I’ve never felt the urge to pick up this annual release. The lack of excitement surrounding the brand all but negates its impressive age statement. This seems strange as there isn’t another ongoing 18 year old bourbon on the market. Excitement somehow trumps high age statements I guess, which is too bad since I’ve missed out on a highly drinkable bourbon for many years.
Of course drinkable can mean many things to many people. Elijah Craig 18 Year isn’t going to shock anyone with a one-of-a-kind tasting palate. It’s predictable and straightforward, yet features enough complexity and enjoyable flavors to win over just about anyone. It’s typical for the grass is always greener mentality to kick in, and lose sight of a traditional style bourbon that delivers quality over flash.
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