The trend of taking fully matured bourbon whiskey and applying a unique finishing technique continues as Elijah Craig Bourbon has announced the latest edition to its whiskey lineup. The new release is Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Heaven Hill Brands in Bardstown, Kentucky originally started Elijah Craig back in 1986. Toasted Barrel adds an extra layer of sweet oak complexity by aging its fully matured Elijah Craig in a second American White Oak barrel. Elijah Craig small batch bourbon is normally aged for eight to 12 years in new American White Oak barrels. The barrel staves are air dried for 18 months before being assembled into a barrel that is toasted then flash charred for about 40 seconds with a #3 finish. There is no legal definition for small batch but in the case of Elijah Craig it uses up to 200 barrels or less for its small batch bourbon.
‘Toasted Barrel’ Uses a Second New Oak Barrel
The Toasted Barrel process begins when matured Elijah Craig is dumped then re-entered at barrel proof into a second, custom toasted new oak barrel designed in partnership with Independent Stave Company. Made with 18-month air dried oak, the finishing barrel is first toasted and then flash-charred using a moderate toast temperature and toast time.
The photos below help to show the details of what makes this Toasted Barrel product unique.
A Deeper Dive Into the Two Toasted Barrels
- Char #3: Elijah Craig Small Batch – The barrel stave on the left is that standard Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon stave and traditionally used to age other Heaven Hill Distillery products.
- Custom Toast Only – The barrel stave in the center has a custom toast designed in partnership with Independent Stave Company, unique only to Elijah Craig. This custom toast profile includes a smooth and steady increase in both time and temperature at moderate intensity levels during the toasting phase. This brings forward dark sugar flavors within the wood, caramelizing and blending them together to create a toast that is not too smoky and offers just the right amount of sweetness.
- Custom Toast with Char #1: Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel – And finally, the barrel stave on the right is the actual barrel used in the finishing period. It has been custom-toasted according to Stave 2 and has a Level One flash char.
The standards of identity for Straight Bourbon Whiskey are maintained by only using new American oak charred barrels to finish the whiskey in both barrels.
Heaven Hill says an extensive research and development process resulted in a final barrel toast profile that brings forward dark sugar flavors within the wood to create a balance of smokiness and sweetness after months of finishing. Their tasting notes say the resulting taste is big, rich and complex with spice and pepper notes that fade into milk chocolate with a hint of smoke as the finish lingers with chocolate and baking spices.
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“Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel pays homage to our namesake’s pioneering spirit as the first to char oak barrels through thoughtful innovation in the barrel-aging process,” said Max Stefka, Elijah Craig Senior Brand Manager. “It was a pleasure partnering with Independent Stave Company to create a custom toast profile and char level designed to best complement fully matured Elijah Craig. Twice barreled for nuanced flavor, Toasted Barrel showcases a Straight Bourbon process unique in the marketplace.”
Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel 1794 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 94 proof (47% ABV) with a suggested retail price of $49.99. Toasted Barrel will launch nationally on an allocated basis this September with its own unique bottle decoration, face, side and neck labels with smoky blue features.