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Elijah Craig Small Batch vs Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Elijah Craig Small Batch vs Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel in this in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Elijah Craig Small Batch

elijah-craig-small-batch
NoseWood, chocolate, cinnamon, clove
PalateChocolate, wood, butterscotch, citrus
FinishOak spice, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, vanilla
Alcohol content94 proof (47% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toWoodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Knob Creek

Nose offers oak at first, followed by a hint of chocolate, cinnamon and clove. On the palate, you get oak spice up-front, with a hint of bitter chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla and a tad of citrus.

The finish feel a bit warm as you get a hit of ethanol and a spicy bite rich in cinnamon, black pepper and clove with some butterscotch sweetness coming late to the party.

Elijah Craig has a nice nose, a good taste but it lets you down on the finish as it feels warm and spicy.

It becomes better when adding a drop of water as it becomes sweeter and loses some of the heat along the peppery bite.

Is not a bad bourbon by any means, barely making it to the sipper category but definitely needs more persistence than the average bourbon in this price range.

Read my post: Discover the Best Elijah Craig Whiskey so you you consider further options!

There are a few facts worth knowing about Elijah Craig:

  • Bottled at 94 proof.
  • Elijah Craig is credited as the first distiller to use heavily charred casks to age bourbon.
  • It is made from a mash bill comprised of 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% malted barley. 
  • It is bottled by blending no less than 200 casks of maturing bourbon, each of which was rested in a Kentucky rickhouse for a minimum of 8 years.
  • This whiskey previously had an age statement of 12 years but in 2016 the age statement was removed to extend its availability.
  • The distiller also increased the maximum number of barrels used per batch from 100 to 200.
  • Elijah Craig is produced by Heaven Hills Distilleries, a private, American family-owned and headquartered in Bardstown, Kentucky.

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel

NoseVanilla, oak, cherry, green apple
PalateCaramel, vanilla, rye spice, charred oak
FinishMedium-length, warming, caramel, oak spice
Alcohol content94 proof (47% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toMaker’s Mark 46, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

The Toasted Barrel is the sam whiskey as the Small Batch but finished in in toasted barrels.

These barrels, crafted in partnership with Independent Stave Company, were made with 18 month air-dried staves which were toasted and then flash charred.

This additional step made it better as it removed some of the hard edges of the Small Batch by adding sweetness along a nice charred oak note and making it feel less hot.

On the nose you get a lot of vanilla at first, followed by oak and cherry.

On the palate, Toasted Barrel displays a medium body. Taste is sweet up-front, rich in vanilla and caramel, followed by rye spice and charred oak.

The finish has a medium length, with a nice slow burn, with caramel and charred oak.

Drinks nicely neat or rocks. Water tunes down the heat while releasing sweetness and more oak making it a tad better.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel:

  • Aged initially for 8 years and then one additional year in the aforementioned barrels.
  • Elijah Craig is credited as the first distiller to use heavily charred casks to age bourbon.

Small Batch vs Toasted Barrel: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskeyPrice
Elijah Craig Small Batch$34
Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel$95

Elijah Craig Small Batch vs Toasted Barrel: Which is better?

Toasted Barrel is an upgrade over Small Batch

  • Toasted Barrel is definitely better than the Small Batch as the additional year in toasted oak made it sweeter while removing some off-putting notes and provided a better finish.
  • But is it good enough to justify the lofty price differential??? that’s tough to answer but I wouldn’t pay the difference.
  • Ultimately, this is the same bourbon, made from the same mash bill, aged for 8 years in the same barrels.
  • The difference comes down to the final year of aging in toasted barrels.

Certainly better, but not better enough to be 3x more expensive.

If I were you I would look into the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof which is tad cheaper than Toasted Barrel and immensely better.

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