Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in European Toasted Oak Barrels
Company: Elijah Craig Distillery Co. (Heaven Hill)
Distillery: Elijah Craig Distillery Co. (Heaven Hill)
Release Date: August 2023
Age: NAS (Aged at least 4 years per TTB regulations)
Mashbill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye
MSRP: $100 / 750mL (2023)
Seasoned oak | Clove | Allspice | Aged leather | Brown sugar | Light spice
Leather | Gingersnap cookie | Salted caramel | Tobacco leaf | Toasted marshmallow | Savory
Rye Spice | Dry leather | Aged oak | Caramel | Medium length
Elijah Craig’s European Oak 2023 Ryder Cup Limited Edition bourbon begs the question: have bourbon-sports sponsorships finally reached a critical tipping point?
According to the company’s press release, “This limited edition starts with fully-matured Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon and finishes it in new European Oak barrels that have been toasted with a profile inspired by those used in the Lazio wine growing region. Lazio wines are grown in and around Rome, Italy, where the 2023 Ryder Cup is being held at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club September 29th through October 1st.”
Many reading this are probably familiar with the fact that Woodford Reserve has been the “Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby” since 1999. Bourbon, Kentucky, and horse racing have a long history, and it’s not a surprising connection. Having originated in Scotland over 500 years ago, golf and scotch are often synonymous. While bourbon and sports have come together numerous times in the past, wine and craft beer are still the frontrunners when it comes to sports sponsorships in the United States. However that changed for the sport of golf earlier this year when Elijah Craig became the official sponsor of the PGA. Choosing to finish standard Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon in European Oak also makes sense given the venue for the 2023 Ryder Cup. While bourbon and sports have merged in the past, this release gives off the feeling like we are going to start seeing a lot more bourbon and American whiskey sports sponsorships in the future.
Coming in a standard Elijah Craig bottle, premium touches were added to the packaging in order to help support an asking price that’s more than triple that of a standard Elijah Craig Small Batch bottle, and about double that of Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel. The proof is the same though, so aside from packaging and its limited edition status, the only difference is the European toasted oak finishing. Thankfully, it does add a degree of richness to the bourbon that elevates it above the standard version, albeit just slightly. It’s more savory overall, bringing notes of seasoned oak, clove, allspice, aged leather, and brown sugar to the nose. Flavors of tobacco leaf, leather, gingersnap cookie, salted caramel, and toasted marshmallow on the palate are followed by a splash of rye spice, dry leather, aged oak, and a bit of caramel in the finish. It’s a nice sip, but ultimately the significant increase in price is connected with its upgraded packaging and Ryder Cup affiliation. If this commemorative release is desirable to you, it’s an easy buy. But if you’re looking for a better value play and want something similar (for drinking purposes), stick with Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel.