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Bourbon Reviews Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Small Batch Review

Elijah-Craig

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Small Batch is named for the minister who discovered the defining method of making Kentucky Bourbon when he stored his drink in barrels that had been charred by a fire. It is bottled from parcels of 100 barrels or less, giving it small batch status.

In the glass, Elijah Craig has a good color and slight flowery scent. It is extremely smooth from the start, turning into a lingering comfortable burn, finishing with some impressive complexity. There is a maple syrup sweetness to it, but it softens quickly to allow flavors of smoke, toffee, and plum to come through. The oak on Elijah Craig is notable.

It’s price-point is very reasonable for such a good bourbon. To be honest, I’ve overlooked Elijah Craig for years opting for other mainstream brands. It was always on my short list, but it always seemed to be passed over for no real reason. However, I am pleased to say that I have a new option for my rotation.

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1792 Ridgemont Reserve Small Batch Bourbon

1792 Bourbon Review (Ridgemont Reserve)

Verdict: Excellent Mid-bodied Small Batch

I picked up a bottle of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon (named for the year Kentucky became a state) on a recent trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The airlines frown upon traveling with liquid these days, so I was happy to see that stores that far west of Kentucky had bourbon on the shelves. 1792 is aged eight years and is 93.7 proof, making it slightly milder than some more prolific bourbons.  I couldn’t resist taking the photo (above) with the Grand Tetons as the backdrop.

First off, the bottle is great – the thick glass reveals the rich, dark color of the contents with a cork and burlap wrap around the neck. A nice presentation for a small batch bourbon.

A whiff gave me good nose, but it wasn’t overpowering. I had to work pretty hard to get an oaky smell, but it was adequate. My first sample, neat, was very pleasurable – Caramels, vanillas, with a hint of oak – all well balanced. A decent burn with a flavorable finish. Not overly harsh or overly mild – I would put this one somewhere in the mid-range for drinkability.

I think this is a good bourbon to have in stock. Newcomers may enjoy the milder body as well. I tend to put this one in a similar category with like Eagle Rare or Jefferson’s.

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Bourbon Reviews Jefferson's Small Batch Bourbon

Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon

Verdict: Warm, robust, smooth

I’m not sure why, but when I hear sound of the cork popping out of a bottle of bourbon my taste buds start to anticipate something great coming their way. Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon, from McLain & Kyne, did not disappoint them.

Jefferson’s Small Batch is aged 8 years (vs. their Jefferson’s Reserve version which is aged 12) in metal warehouses to accentuate extreme temperatures. According to the distiller, this environment “forces the bourbon to expand into the barrel and pull out the wood flavors.” I guess the term “small batch” is a pretty general term, but my bottle was number 1009 from batch 147 which does seem pretty small compared to the production of some of the larger distillers.

The scent of Jefferson’s is incredibly mild. From the bottle and from the glass you really have to work to get a nose from it. The taste was well-balanced with flavors of sweet caramel and vanilla. There is a satisfying burn, but overall very smooth and pleasant finish.

Jefferson’s is very good whiskey. This is good old fashioned Kentucky sipping whiskey. I would highly recommend this one.

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Bourbon Reviews Maker's Mark Distillery Small Batch Bourbon

Maker’s 46 Bourbon

Taste: Smooth with big oak flavor, hints of vanilla
Verdict: Excellent.

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I’ve seen Maker’s 46 in the store for a while, but this is the first time I’ve tried it. Maker’s Mark came out with it about a year ago as the first new bourbon from the distillery in over 50 years. I guess it was a bit of a risk for the overall brand, but they wisely played it safe and produced a bourbon that is consistent with the original, if not a bit better.

The process of making the 46 was basically the same as the original Marker’s but with a twist: After aging the bourbon to maturity, they insert toasted French oak staves into the barrels for an few extra months. In addition to the added aging, the toasting of the staves adds a bit more caramel to the taste. You get the same deep, consistent flavor of Maker’s with some interesting vanilla, honey, and orange spices, a smooth finish, and no bitterness.

From a packaging perspective, the bottle itself is unique and stands out on the shelf somewhat. The minimalist labeling allows you to see the rich color of the bourbon and tends to make my mouth water. The wax seal and cork stopper are a nice acknowledgment to the Maker’s Mark signature.

I personally like the original Marker’s Mark, so Maker’s 46 suits my taste and I would definitely buy it again. It would be very good in a mint julep or a Manhattan (I’ll report back on both of those when I get a chance), but I would suggest trying it neat or with an ice cube first.

There were only 25,000 bottles produced in the first run and my local store only had two on the shelf. I’m not sure if more has been shipped yet, so make sure you grab some when you see it.

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UPDATE: Two people asked me what the 46 meant, so I did some research – apparently this is the product number of the oak staves they use.