Elijah Craig is a name that is synonymous with bourbon whiskey. He is known for his pioneering spirit, his passion for preaching, and his ability to innovate. Here are four things you may not know about the man behind the bottle.
Elijah Craig Was a Preacher and a Prisoner
Elijah Craig was a man of many talents. He was a preacher, a cloth factory owner, and a rope factory owner. He was also a passionate Baptist who was jailed several times for preaching without a license. This may sound strange to modern ears, but in the 18th century, it was a serious crime. In spite of his religious convictions (or because of them), Craig founded a distillery in 1789 and became a leading name in oak-aged corn whiskey. It is said that his love of whiskey was born from a desire to create a drink that was pure and safe to drink. He believed that whiskey made from local grains and distilled in small batches was the best way to achieve this.
Craig is the First to Use Charred Oak Barrels
Bourbon is made by aging 51 percent corn-based whiskey in charred American oak barrels. However, this wasn't always the case. Charred barrels weren't a must in the early days of American bourbon whiskey. The eureka moment is said to have come about by accident. A fire at Craig’s young distillery torched some barrels, which the parsimonious parson decided to use anyway. This resulted in a deeper, pleasantly smoky, caramelly spirit. This happy accident became the hallmark of bourbon whiskey, and it is still used to this day.
Elijah Craig is Corny
Elijah Craig's mash bill is higher in corn proportion, at about 78 percent corn and 10 to 12 percent rye and malted barley. By law, bourbon must be 51% corn, with the rest of the necessary starch coming from grains like rye, wheat, and malted barley. A higher corn proportion can mean a smooth, slightly sweeter whiskey with a soft sweetness but a broader heat. Aging tends to be where higher corn whiskies gain their gravitas, threading char and oak lactones into the body of the whiskey. Hence, Elijah Craig's baseline bottle is aged eight to 12 years.
Elijah Craig Claims the Oldest Single-Barrel Bourbon on the Market
Elijah Craig 18-year Single Barrel is touted to be the oldest single-barrel bourbon on the market. The reason few single-barrel bourbons are aged so long is largely economical: this label loses upwards of two-thirds per barrel as it ages (otherwise known as the "angel’s share," whiskey lost through the barrel itself, presumably evaporating into the mouths of thirsty angels). The result is a deeply complex, rich bourbon that is highly sought after by whiskey aficionados.
In conclusion, Elijah Craig was a man of many talents and interests. He was a passionate preacher who was also an innovator in the world of bourbon whiskey. His use of charred oak barrels and higher corn proportion helped to create a spirit that is beloved around the world. And while he may be long gone, his legacy lives on in every bottle of Elijah Craig bourbon. Interested to try it out for yourself? Order a bottle of Elijah Craig Bourbon today. While you're at it, check out some other amazing products we carry by clicking here.