For those with some serious discretionary income and a thirst for exquisitely priced spirits, the wait is over. Heaven Hill Distilleries, the country’s largest independent family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer, has announced a new limited edition release of Elijah Craig 23-Year Old Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Heaven Hill, which holds the world’s second-largest inventory of bourbon and the most “extra-aged” barrels of any distillery, began shipping this rarity in August at an eye-catching price tag of $199.99 for the 750ml bottle of 90 proof bourbon.
The new bottling follows up on the success of the sold-out Elijah Craig 20-Year Old Single Barrel, released in 2012 and named “American Whiskey of the Year” by Whisky Advocate magazine, and the Elijah Craig 21-Year Old, released last fall and designated “Excellent/Highly Recommended” at the 2013 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
Elijah Craig 23 shares much of its packaging with its predecessor, including the familiar flask-shaped Elijah Craig Single Barrel bottle and cork closure. Setting it apart from previous special editions is the green label for the Elijah Craig 23, instead of the blue label found on the 21-year old.
Since bourbon, by law, must age in new charred white oak barrels, staying in a barrel for 23 years makes barrel selection quite important. There are extreme temperature fluctuations on the highest floors of a rickhouse, and bourbon aging this long can come out tasting too woody or tannic. The barrels for Elijah Craig 23 are drawn from the middle floors of rickhouses, where the effects of long aging are mitigated by the more moderate temperature fluctuations. This careful barrel selection, drawn from Heaven Hill’s inventory of over one million aging barrels, means the whiskey offers depth and complexity but still perfectly maintains the delicate balance between barrel and bourbon.