Veteran Bourbon Review: Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon


Heaven Hill Distillery

Mash bill

78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye






$90 (2022)

Purchase Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel at Caskers Here!

Official Product Website

Toasted Barrel

History  ”The Father of Bourbon”- Reverend Elijah Craig was a Baptist preacher, an educator, and an entrepreneur who built the first paper and wool mills in Georgetown, Kentucky. But for all his industries, it was his gift as a distiller and an innovator that brought him his greatest acclaim.

While we draw inspiration from parts of Elijah Craig’s story, his legacy will forever be stained by his connection to slavery. Like other Kentucky landowners of his generation, Elijah Craig owned slaves. Uncovering the roles of these laborers, how they contributed to the birth of the Bourbon industry and what happened to them and their families is a critical mission of our brand today. Elijah Craig is actively engaged in academic research and other initiatives to not just uncover the past, but to make America today a more just and equitable country.

In 1789, Elijah Craig became the first distiller to age his whiskey in new charred oak barrels. Some claim that an accidental fire charred his barrels and changed the whiskey inside. Others say he stored his whiskey in former sugar barrels and was impressed with how charring improved the flavor.

However it happened, Elijah Craig knew he had discovered something great. He continued to refine the barrel charring process, imparting smooth, rich flavor to the spirit that would become known as Bourbon. 250 years later, he is still known as the Father of Bourbon—and we craft our Bourbon today using the same time-honored methods.-

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel is created from fully matured Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, re-barreled in a custom toasted new oak barrel. The Bourbon is left in this new toasted barrel for an undisclosed amount of time to add new layers of complex, sweet oak to an already outstanding Small Batch Bourbon. 

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel has won GOLD at the 2022 International Spirits Competition and GOLD at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2021 and 2022.  

  Value – So this is a sour topic for me. Due to popularity, supply, and demand, I was lucky to find a bottle, which I paid $90 for. The MSRP on this bourbon is $50. I’m going to value this bourbon based on the MSRP. It is a decent price at $50, however, good luck finding it for that price. I searched for months and finally found a bottle. This pour is interesting and is worth the experience. Just try not to overpay like I did. 

Appearance – This bottle is the typical Elijah Craig shape with a navy blue banner depicting the “Toasted Barrel” offering. It comes with a very nice quality cork (great for the cork collectors out there.). It is filled with a light caramel colored bourbon. 

Nose –  Toasted Oak /  Very Light Alcohol Fumes / Dark Cherry / Caramel. This nose is very interesting. You expect to get a forward blast of charred or toasted oak because of the name, but instead you get a wonderful balance of oak and sweet. It’s hard to pick out the sweet note because of how well balanced it is. It’s a very calm and pleasant nose delivering sweet notes of dark cherry and caramel. There is a slight hint of fermented grain that is reminiscent of rye grain despite its 10% rye content. 

Palate –  Oak / Pepper / Creamy / Low Heat Level. This palate isn’t anything to make a fuss about. It’s pretty oak heavy with an immediate pepper note. It has a creamy feel to it but also feels quite watery at the same time. It maintains a very low heat level throughout the tasting.

Finish – Oak / Complex / Low Heat / Lingering. The finish is still very oak forward. It lingers with the oak note leaving that oak tannin taste leading to dryness. It’s worth mentioning that the oak finish isn’t straightforward and maintains a complexity all the way to the end. 

Summary – After doing this review, I feel like we might receive some backlash on it. There are some very die-hard and loyal Elijah Craig fans out there that I’m probably going to disappoint. This bourbon is just ok. It has an interesting nose, but the rest of the sip is just average. I think this bourbon has received a lot of hype which has created a buying frenzy and escalated the prices to something way over what it’s worth. There are a lot of bourbons out there that have much more flavor and quality than this one. With that being said, it’s an interesting product with a unique finishing process that really changes the small batches flavor profile. I do like it, it’s just not anything crazy to talk about. I’m a big fan of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and I just think that’s the better product out of all their offerings (Yes, that includes the 18 year).

“This is a great product for someone getting into bourbon drinking. It has a great nose and is a very calm sipper, but if you are a seasoned bourbon drinker, you probably won’t go for a pour of this one again. 

– John McGowan

Uniqueness – 1-10 – 7

Appearance- 1-10 – 8

Nose- 1-20 – 12

Palate- 1-20 – 9

Finish- 1-20 – 9

Value- 1-20 – 10


Purchase Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel at Caskers Here!

Reviewed By:

John McGowan on 2/21/2023

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