The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2016

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50  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2016 BOURBON L ittle did Baptist minister Elijah Craig realize when he began charring barrels and filling them with whiskey that he would be starting a bourbon revolution. Whether these barrels came from a great barn fire or were the result of reusing sugar barrels, Reverend Craig decided to use them anyway, storing his corn whiskey in them. The good reverend may have taken it as a sign from above when the barrels were opened, because the heavenly liquid inside was not the clear, rough-tasting corn liquor he had expected. Instead, the charred barrels had imparted an amber hue to the whiskey, and had given it mellow nuances of caramel and smoke, enhanced by a honeyed taste of vanilla from the oak. Thus, bourbon was born (although it wasn't called that until a few years later). Today, Elijah Craig, christened by history as the "Father of Bourbon," has become immortalized with his namesake family of Elijah Craig bourbons produced by Heaven Hill Distillery, the largest independent, family-owned distillery in America. And for the first time in almost 30 years, the brand will undergo a major package redesign. The new look of Elijah Craig is the result of the whiskey's own success. The bottle itself features an updated look befitting the "small batch" designation. That, of course, refers to the fact that ever since 1986 Heaven Hill has been producing Elijah Craig in small batches of their best barrels. This, it should be noted, was well before the now-ubiquitous "small batch" term was used. Moreover, the pack- age is taller and has cleaner lines that better appeal to today's discerning bourbon drinker. "We will continue to support the product in the off-premise, where it is historically quite strong," says Susan Wahl, Heaven Hill Distillery Group Product Manager. "In the on- premise, the new bottle now fits a standard pourer and is easier to hold. Both the proof and age support the construction of great cocktails, classic or otherwise." Elijah Craig Small Batch ($30) is composed exclusively from selections of 200 barrels or less of eight- to twelve-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, with a large percent from the older barrels. "We maintain the desired taste profile and quality through our stringent barrel selection process that has made Elijah Craig Small Batch one of the most critically acclaimed bourbons in the world," says Master Distiller Denny Potter. "We can do this because barrels, no matter their age, mature at different rates that depend on their location in our rickhouses. We choose only those barrels that meet our exacting standards for complexity. They are the cream of the crop that annually account for one-half of one percent of all of our aging stocks." The impressive family of Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Barrel Proof ($60), Elijah Craig 18 Year Old Single Barrel ($119) and Elijah Craig 23 Year Old Single Barrel ($199) will continue to be part of the world-class lineup. The new Elijah Craig bourbon revolution is being heralded with a "Father of Bourbon" national advertising campaign, with high- contrast imagery showcasing the elegant new bottle with a rocks glass of the premium bourbon. Indeed, remaining at its traditional 94 proof, San Francisco World Spirits Competition Double Gold Medal winner Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon pours with an amber hue that foretells of its smoky oak and honeyed black cherry nuances that are equally at home on the rocks or in a cocktail—admirable traits for an immortal whiskey. Elijah Craig Is Small Batch Immortality THE BRAND REVITALIZES THE LEGACY OF THE "FATHER OF BOURBON" by Richard Carleton Hacker Elijah Craig's Master Distiller Denny Potter. PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIJAH CRAIG

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