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Elijah Craig 18 Year Old Bourbon: Pre-Hiatus vs. Post-Hiatus

Posted on by Eric Burke

I used to work with some amazing people. My wife was going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer and was suffering from immense bone pain due to it. They put together a collection to get her a night in a hotel with a private hot-tub to help alleviate the pain. It was an immensely nice gesture and very much appreciated. 

While we were there I was an attentive errand boy, as I was every time a chemo weekend came up. But there were times when she was sleeping or we were watching tv when I could hop on twitter and spend a little time escaping from the reality we were living by reading about whiskey. And then I read a post from Pops over at Bourbon and Banter that Elijah Craig 18 yer old was going away. I didn’t really care too much. I never cared too much for it, but my wife was very upset. At $45 it was one of her favorite bourbons that wouldn’t break the bank. She likes oak a lot more than I do.

So I did what any good husband would do, I left the hotel to go get two bottles to put away. One I still have, we plan to open it up next year to celebrate 5 years cancer-free. The other we drank pretty quickly, but as always I put aside a few samples in my sample library to have in the future. 

It turns out it is now the future. Elijah Craig 18 year is back. It’s almost three times the price, but it has been seen off and on at my local Total Wine. I did not buy it. I didn’t want to spend that much on a whiskey that historically I did not like. But luckily a friend of mine did buy it and knowing that Robin was a fan, gave her a healthy sample. I in turn gave him one of the samples I put away so he could compare. Then I pulled out my other sample so I could compare them as well. 

It was a fun tasting. We did it blind in order to gauge which we liked better without any preconceptions being attached. So…is the one we have in the closet better than the one we could find today?

Elijah Craig 18 Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon Pre-Hiatus Versus Post-Hiatus. 

Bourbon A:

Nose: Pear, caramel, oak and baking spices.

Mouth: Light and fruity with lively spices. Pear caramel, baking spices and herbal notes. 

Finish: Spicy and warm with lingering herbal and fruity notes. 

a smile becasue I like this

Thoughts: I would never guess this is 18 years old. It is a lively pour that almost dances across the senses. It is really good. I might even buy this one…if the price was right. 

Bourbon B:

Nose: Creme Brûlée, floral notes and dusty oak. 

Mouth: A little thin on the mouth feel. Caramel, mint and oak predominate.

Finish: Lingering oak and herbal notes along with a nice burn that sticks around for a while. Much of the flavor comes from the finish on this one.

a neutral face because this is sort of meh.

Thoughts: This is muted and accentuates the oak flavors. It feels old and a bit tired. I don’t know that I’d buy it again based on this bottle. It’s just kinda meh. 

So which is which? Can I go buy the energetic, virile, young 18 year old bourbon? Or am I stuck buying a tired, old bourbon at the end of its useful life? Well, I’m happy to say that Bourbon A was the post-hiatus Elijah Craig and that Bourbon B was the pre-hiatus version. And in a rare case of whiskey-math working like regular math, I think the bourbon that costs almost three times as much as it used to, is approximately that much better than it used to be. I’m shocked to say it, but I might even buy one of these if I see it on the shelf. Even at $130. Weird.


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