Is Elijah Craig aged 12 years?

Answered by Roy Gibson

The current version of Elijah Craig Small Batch is not aged for 12 years. It used to be a 12-year-old bourbon, but Heaven Hill, the distillery behind Elijah Craig, made the decision to discontinue the 12-year age statement in 2016. The reason for this change was to allocate the older for their more premium and limited releases, such as the Elijah Craig 18 Year and 23 Year expressions.

The decision to remove the 12-year age statement was met with mixed reactions from bourbon enthusiasts. On one hand, it allowed Heaven Hill to continue offering Elijah Craig at a more affordable price point, as older aged bourbons often command higher prices. On the other hand, some fans of the 12-year expression felt disappointed that they could no longer enjoy that specific flavor profile.

It's important to note that age is just one factor in determining the quality and taste of a bourbon. While older bourbons often develop more complexity and depth, there are many other factors at play, such as the mash bill, distillation process, barrel char, and warehouse conditions. These variables can greatly influence the flavor profile of a bourbon, regardless of its age statement.

Personally, I have had the opportunity to try both the 12-year-old version of Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon and the current non-age-stated version. While the 12-year expression had a rich and robust flavor with hints of vanilla, caramel, and oak, I also found the non-age-stated version to be quite enjoyable. It still retains the classic bourbon characteristics with notes of caramel, spice, and a smooth finish.

In the end, the decision to remove the 12-year age statement was a strategic move by Heaven Hill to meet the demands of the market and allocate their older barrels for more premium releases. While some may miss the 12-year expression, the current non-age-stated version of Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon still offers a high-quality and affordable option for bourbon enthusiasts.