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Elijah Craig – Father of Bourbon?

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Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Elijah Craig 18 & Elijah Craig 23

Happy National Bourbon Day!

Elijah Craig & Charred Barrels

Elijah Craig is purported to be the “Father of Bourbon” according to the folks at Heaven Hill Distillery. They credit him with being the first to put his whiskey into charred barrels, although the exact details are unclear. His barrels may have been burnt in a fire and used anyway, with the resultant whiskey receiving a favorable reception.

Another reason given for charring barrels was to make whiskey more resemble French brandies such as Cognac and Armagnac. I’ve also being given the explanation that the barrels that were used to store whiskey may have previously been used for other purposes, such as storing fish. Charring the barrel before putting the whiskey in it would help get rid of some of the unwanted flavors left behind by the barrel’s prior contents. There is also the story of a Lexington grocer who requested that a distiller, John Corliss, char his barrels before putting his whiskey in them because it would improve the whiskey’s flavor.

So it’s not entirely clear who began the process of putting whiskey into charred barrels, or why, but I think we are all pretty happy that it happened.

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Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon

While the story of Elijah Craig being the Father of Bourbon may be a myth, what is clear is that there is some excellent bourbon bearing his name. This particular one is an Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and clocks in at a fairly potent 138.8 proof. This is the old bottle design from back in 2016.

Brown sugar, vanilla, oak and caramel are the flavors that dominate. However, the alcohol is not at all hiding and the finish and burn last for a long time. Adding a small amount of water helps a bit to bring out the flavors and subdue the heat.

What will be your pour of choice to celebrate National Bourbon Day? There’s really no wrong answer, as long as it’s bourbon! 😉 Stay safe you all. Cheers!🥃

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