Standing on Principle-Elijah Craig 12 Year Old


The Reverend Elijah Craig was a very principled man.  He was a Baptist minister that is credited with working with James Madison in 1777 to ensure that freedom of Religion was put into the Constitution of the United States.  He had a calling to spread God’s message to the west, so in 1781 he led his family and 600 baptist followers to Kentucky where he settled and established the town of Lebanon, and opened the Great Crossing Church, so named for his trek over the snow covered peaks and plains to spread the word.  He started Kentucky’s first school in 1787, eventually becoming Georgetown College a Private Liberal Arts college, he was jailed for preaching without a license, and he is widely believed to be the creator of Bourbon Whiskey! Heaven Hill Distillery has taken a similar principled approach to their production of the small batch Bourbon Whiskey that bears his name…

146px-Elijah_Craig_BourbonAt 12 years old and 94 proof or 47% ABV, Elijah Craig is bottled exclusively from a dumping of 70 barrels or less, all drawn from the middle to upper floors of the metal clad rickhouses. It is the original Small Batch Bourbon, having been made available even before the term was invented.  Its distinctive dark color and woody nose is evident of its age.

This Bourbon is very full bodied and well balanced.   The nose is woody as noted previously, but also has a whiff of alcohol and old leather.  The taste of the bourbon hits the palate woody and of old leather with undertones of honey and tobacco.  The burn is strong but not harsh and the finish on this whiskey is smoldering and warm, lasting about a minute.


This bourbon is so well balanced that it drinks neat very well.  It is good for sipping and savoring over a long conversation or a fine cigar.

On the Rocks

Cooling this bourbon brings our more flavors.  The honey flavor becomes more pronounced and the whiskey is sweeter, although there is still plenty of wood and old leather notes.

With a Splash

This whiskey is so robust that it holds up to water extremely well.  Water actually brings out some additional flavor of current and clove.  It makes the flavor more complex and very pleasant.

The Master Distillers at Heaven Hill have made an excellent Bourbon Whiskey in Elijah Craig 12 year.  It is worthy of the name of the founder of bourbon, and stands on principle through the small batch process and extra aging.  One other noteworthy trait is its price.  I was able to pick up a 750 ml bottle for under $18 dollars!  So not only is it an excellent product, but it is an excellent value as well.


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10 Comments on “Standing on Principle-Elijah Craig 12 Year Old”

  1. nostawetan
    September 24, 2009 at 12:46 am #

    I agree with you on this one. Price to cost ratio is wonderful. The 18 year is also very reasonable.

    • Don
      September 24, 2009 at 9:16 pm #


      Since I don’t know your real name, I am going to try the 18 year soon. I think I saw it for around $23. An absolute steal for an 18 year bourbon. I’m still in amazement at how the folks at Heaven Hill can come up with such tasty juice at such a budget friendly price!

  2. Jim
    September 24, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

    I just picked this up last night – my first real whiskey purchase. I’ll post a review if I can come up with more than “it burns!!” and “tastes like paint thinner!” I’m not a big whiskey guy, but this looks like the place to start, especially since the creek has indeed run dry on Knob.

  3. Don
    September 24, 2009 at 7:57 pm #


    I wouldn’t have recommended this for your first foray into the Spirit World. Remember it is a very old bourbon with a lot of oak and char in the flavor. It is for a little more mature palate. I don’t want to do to you what you almost did to your friend Steve with the Storm King Stout. I would recommend another Heaven Hill offering, Evan Williams Black label. It has a very fresh fruity flavor with a mild burn on the back side. You can pick up a fifth for under $10 too. So it is also a great value. That would be my recommendation for your first time.

  4. Jamie WHITE
    November 3, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    I’m still learning Don but i have been annoying people I want something smiler to DICKEL No 12 in any form (scotch/bourbon/blend/ whiskey/rye) in Australia. I’m Referring to the CHEWY TOBACCO, LEATHERY,CREME (not fizz), and Slides (buttery)(not dense) on the palate.

    What is it to look for (as in wood, burning type, age or some word other then LIKE) or just name of more tasty ones over just wood.

    EJ12 is available but I’m concerned about TOO WOOD on comments and i want to MOVE AROUND NOT just FLAT. Like FIG RAISIN too. Not into perfume Just something TASTY bits on the PALATE a can feel satisfied by.

    Last Purchases where BOOKERS, BUSHMILLS 10, OLD PULTENEY 12. Nothing did what i want . i felt simply FLAT after BOOKERS. Other 2 where FIZZY (could be the sherry cask) and FIRM and DENSE.

    • Don
      November 3, 2010 at 11:01 am #

      Jamie, I would try the Makers 46. This is an impressive bourbon that should satisfy. I’m not sure about all your descriptors, but I think the 46 should be a good starting point giving what you gave me to work with. Give that a try and let me know how it went. One other suggestion might be Noah’s Mill 114. This is a 114 proof bourbon that is a no nonsense rye bourbon that really delivers. Good luck.

      • Jamie
        November 4, 2010 at 12:28 am #

        Thanks DON. 46 is not available( tried MM original – impressive front flavor. Shame of the watered finish). You mentioned to NEWBIE above to give EW BLACK a try over EC12. I think E12 will be to firm and wood for me to enjoy the flavours. Some review/comments said EW BLACK has slight LEATHER + TOBACCO chewyness. Is this just smell or that actual palate? Sounds better then the simple BEAM BLACK.

        • Don
          November 4, 2010 at 8:46 am #

          It is the palate as well for the EW Black Label. That should be a good one to try. I also thought of Fighting Cock. This is another Heaven Hill product and it is very aggressive and Hot with the flavors you like. Where EW Black is quite a bit more tame as far as heat and finish are concerned. You might also try some of the Wild Turkey products. They have the profile you like too. If you can find it try Kentucky Spirit. It is single barrel, but in my estimation it is the best most complete single barrel offering on the market, with the possible exception being Four Roses Single Barrel. If the KS is not available you might give just the regular 101 a try. It is a quality bourbon. My final suggestion would be Knob Creek. It has a great chewy profile that has a little more sweetness up front and finishes oily on the palate with some leather not as much perhaps as the Wild Turkey but still it is there. When you think Knob Creek, think Cherry pipe tobacco. Hopefully this hasn’t thoroughly confused you. Let me know how you fare.

          BTW you are right EC12 will be way too woody for your tastes.

  5. Jamie
    November 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    thanks. We have most of the ‘better’ Wild turkeys and Beam knobs and not the rest. LAST QUESTION: Why are BOURBONS so CHEAP if they MUST use NEW WHITE American oak while a SINGLE MALT Aged in Ex Bourbon cask are twice as much and in pure oak even 3 to 4 times as much as a regular bourbon?

    • Don
      November 4, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

      Good question. My honest answer is I don’t know…but that has never stopped me from giving my opinion before, so it probably won’t now either. Couple things come into play. First, by aging single malt as long as they do they loose more to evaporation than Bourbon does. This is called “Angel’s Share”, so presumably there would be a larger angel’s share for scotch than for Bourbon. Second, the infrastructure for scotch is smaller than it is for bourbon. There is less warehouse space and so less product is produced on an annual basis when you factor in its popularity and the demand for the product. That also had a huge impact on the price, what are people willing to pay? I think Bourbon drinkers are a little more fickle and will launch into other beverages if the cost goes up too much. Scotch drinkers seem to be willing to pay the freight for their favorite spirit.

      Just some pontifications, but there might be a couple kernels of truth in there.

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