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Elijah Craig Bourbon Goes Non Age Statement

Elijah CraigYup, this is going to tick some bourbon loving people off a lot.

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old bourbon is no more. There – it has been said. It has been replaced by a non-age statement edition known just as Elijah Craig Small Batch that is bottled in “small batches using Bourbon that has been aged between 8 to 12 years.”

Why, might you ask, is owner Heaven Hill Brands monkeying with this? Here is their complete statement as written by Josh Hafer, their communications manager last week:

The surge in popularity of Bourbon both domestically and internationally has led many of the Bourbon and American Whiskey brands at Heaven Hill Distillery to experience sustained double digit growth. One brand in particular that has grown in popularity during this resurgence is Elijah Craig Small Batch.

Since its launch in 1986, Elijah Craig Small Batch has become known in Bourbon circles as a brand with a high quality to value ratio. This was in part due to the fact that it carried a 12-year-old age statement. However, as the brand continues to grow significantly, Heaven Hill’s stocks of 12-year-old barrels has been under increasing pressure. Therefore, after careful deliberation and with a view towards making the brand available to more, not less consumers, Heaven Hill has made the decision to bottle Elijah Craig in small batches using Bourbon that has been aged between 8 to 12 years.

Starting this week, Heaven Hill will begin shipping Elijah Craig Small Batch as an 8 to 12-year-old Bourbon and will remove the 12-year-old age statement from the back label. This will allow us to continue to make Elijah Craig Small Batch available and not have to limit its accessibility to consumers or have outages at the shelf.

Overall, Heaven Hill does intend to retain age-stated Bourbons within the Elijah Craig brand franchise. By making the age adjustment to Elijah Craig Small Batch, it will allow a marked increase in allocations of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof which will continue to carry a 12-year-old age statement and, over time, increase availability of Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel that was just re-released this past fall after a 3 year hiatus.

With the second-largest inventory of Bourbon in the world and knowing that that each barrel, no matter the age, matures at different rates depending on its location, Heaven Hill is confident that through our stringent barrel selection process, we will be able to maintain the desired taste profile and quality that has made Elijah Craig Small Batch one of the most critically acclaimed Bourbons in the world. More importantly, we are dedicated to being transparent in this change and providing consumers with as much information as reasonably possible.

The choice has certainly drawn a fair amount of discussion, criticism, and consideration already, with bourbon writer heavyweights such as Fred Minnick (“For now, I’m mourning. I’ve lost an old friend.”), Steve Ury (“But here’s the rub that makes this one extra slimy.”), Josh Chinn (“All things considered, it seems like they made the right decision.”) and Chuck Cowdery (“If we like bourbon and like having a bourbon marketplace in which just about every variation on the theme is available, this is the price we have to pay.”) all weighing in. I encourage you to visit all of the links to get a good take on their opinions and the backstory of this issue as a whole.

As for us, we will just keep drinking the stuff and writing about whiskey, because that’s what we do.

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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