Toledo Talk

Elijah Craig Bourbon Duel at Tippins

I'm reaching outside the boundaries of Toledo with this post because we usually don't get the opportunity for selections such as these in NW Ohio. And as a bourbon guy, I honestly find this stuff fascinating.

The spirit in question is Elijah Craig, a 12 year-old small batch bourbon. Small batch is pretty self-explanatory, in that the whiskey inside the bottle was selected and blended from a relatively small number of barrels. This provides for a more consistent taste from batch to batch and bottle to bottle. That being said, a number of distilleries also run barrel selection programs in which retailers are able to sample and purchase their own single barrel for exclusive bottling. Which is what Tippins Market in Ann Arbor recently did. But instead of purchasing a single barrel of Elijah Craig (which is generally the standard, especially for smaller retailers), they purchased two barrels and started The Duel. To make things more interesting, the barrels were selected from two different floors of the warehouse. Which, you're about to see, can produce two unique bourbons (taste, appearance, quantity, etc.).

Elijah Craig 12 year-old Tale of the Tape
3rd Floor Barrel (on the left)
Barrel Fill Quantity - 53 Gallons
Barrel Fill Proof - 125°
After Aging Proof - 131°
After Aging Quantity - 20.5 Gallons*
After Cutting Quantity - 28.5 Gallons
After Cutting Proof - 94°

7th Floor Barrel (on the right)
Barrel Fill Quantity - 53 Gallons
Barrel Fill Proof - 125°
After Aging Proof - 142.9°
After Aging Quantity - 9.45 Gallons*
After Cutting Quantity - 16.3 Gallons
After Cutting Proof - 94°

One of the first things I noticed was the difference in color. Both of these barrels were aged for just over twelve years, but the barrel that resided on the 7th floor was noticeably darker (possibly not reflected in the pic). Perhaps the biggest difference was in the taste. The bourbon from the 3rd floor barrel was evenly balanced and not too overpowering, possibly a little more dressed up version of the standard Elijah 12 offering. The 7th floor bourbon is where things really started to take off. A richness developed and flavors began to build on each other as you moved through the tasting process. And although both were bottled at 94 proof, if I had tasted blind, I would have sworn the 7th floor offering was much higher. Neither required any water though...neat is definitely the way to go. Both are excellent whiskeys (in quality and price), but if forced to choose, I'd pick the 7th floor bottle and never look back. Then again, I wasn't forced to choose so I picked up a bottle of each.

* This is known as the Angels' Share.

created by RBancroft on Jun 11, 2013 at 11:45:51 pm     Comments: 10

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Comments ... #

Would make sense as the temperature variations higher in the rick house (the building where the barrels are stored to age) would be greater (hotter in the summer months) and thus the amount of bourbon forced in and out of the barrel wood would be a bit greater.

I'm a big bourbon fan myself and have toured all the distilleries in Kentucky. One interesting element of this is that they do not rotate their barrels, many of the distilleries I toured indicated they periodically rotate the barrels in the rick house to more evenly age the bourbon.

If you too are a fan (and it sounds like it) I'd recommend you try Four Roses small batch and Van Winkle 12 yr special reserve.

posted by breeman on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:17:01 am     #   1 person liked this

breeman posted at 10:17:01 AM on Jun 12, 2013:

Would make sense as the temperature variations higher in the rick house (the building where the barrels are stored to age) would be greater (hotter in the summer months) and thus the amount of bourbon forced in and out of the barrel wood would be a bit greater.

I'm a big bourbon fan myself and have toured all the distilleries in Kentucky. One interesting element of this is that they do not rotate their barrels, many of the distilleries I toured indicated they periodically rotate the barrels in the rick house to more evenly age the bourbon.

If you too are a fan (and it sounds like it) I'd recommend you try Four Roses small batch and Van Winkle 12 yr special reserve.

Haven't yet had the chance to visit the distilleries. Missed out on visiting Heaven Hill by a few hours when I was driving through Kentucky last fall. I figure one of these days I'll make my way back down and do the Bourbon Trail.

Four Roses was one of the initial bottles I purchased when first getting into bourbon. And now that I think about it, I can't recall the last time I had an open bottle on the shelf (easy fix). As for the Van Winkle Special Reserve, I was fortunate enough to have the equal pleasure and disappointment of finishing a bottle a few months back.

Recently, most of my pours have been from bottles that aren't available in Ohio or Michigan; W.L. Weller 12 yr., Very Old Barton (Bottled in Bond), and a few others.

posted by RBancroft on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:44:33 am     #  

Hey Bourbon fans, where would you suggest one acquire a bottle of Van Winkle, 12 year or otherwise? I've been calling in favors from many across the US looking for a bottle and can't get one. Will buy from you if you have an extra one . . .

posted by jimavolt on Jun 12, 2013 at 07:32:57 pm     #  

jimavolt

ABC liquors here in Florida does advertise that they stock Van Winkle but in such limited quantities they use a lottery system for their customers wanting it. The 15 yr old goes for about $80 bucks a bottle. I have a friend of mine that manages one of the really big ABC outlets near my home. If you want I will make an inquiry for you. Let me know. You can also check it out on their website. Google ABC liquors.

posted by Wydowmaker on Jun 12, 2013 at 08:46:44 pm     #  

I suppose the lottery system is a fair way to distribute the rare Van Winkle. I am enrolled in several already, though not ABC's.

I'll request a customer number and will enroll in the lottery for the Pappy. Thanks for the suggestion.

Jim

posted by jimavolt on Jun 13, 2013 at 09:06:24 am     #  

I suppose the lottery system is a fair way to distribute the rare Van Winkle. I am enrolled in several already, though not ABC's.

I'll request a customer number and will enroll in the lottery for the Pappy. Thanks for the suggestion.

Jim

posted by jimavolt on Jun 13, 2013 at 09:51:25 am     #  

I don't consider myself a bourbon expert and probably would be considered a heretic for fouling my whiskey with vermouth, ginger ale and occasionally Coca-Cola. That being said, I have been enjoying Bulleit as of late. Has a little sharper taste than the Jim Beam I am used to, but I am starting to appreciate that more and more.

posted by Ace_Face on Jun 13, 2013 at 04:09:37 pm     #  

No real foul for mixing with Jim Beam, however, if you were to do the same with Van Winkle, or other top end bourbon, you would most certainly risk being drawn and quartered.

Regarding the rare Van Winkle, I generally make a couple of pilgrimages per year to KY bourbon country to add to the collection (as there is little to choose from around here) Sometimes, but rarely, can find Pappy 23 year old at Party Town in Florence KY, but it's around $300 a bottle, so quite dear.

By the way, today is national bourbon day! I, for one, will honor this day by having a few fingers of something from my collection this evening...now what to choose?

posted by breeman on Jun 14, 2013 at 01:19:21 pm     #  

"By the way, today is national bourbon day! "

I saw this thread at Fark.com today that pointed to this story about national bourbon day. It makes sense that someone posted this to Fark, since the creator of the site lives in Kentucky.

Like RBancroft's post that started this thread, the Fark thread contains photos of various bourbons. It's certainly a beautiful-looking beverage.

Excerpts from the story:

Myth has it that the Baptist Reverend Elijah Craig, both a minister and a distiller, charred oak barrels (perhaps to clean them) and used them to transport whiskey down the river to New Orleans.

The whiskey that came out from the barrels was markedly different from the whiskey that went into them, and soon enough, people were clamoring for more of the whiskey from Old Bourbon County.

The story may or may not be totally accurate, but it did give Reverend Craig the memorable nickname “The Father of Bourbon.”

posted by jr on Jun 14, 2013 at 02:35:42 pm     #  

This will be my first pour on National Bourbon Day. Always best to start with the really good stuff.

posted by RBancroft on Jun 14, 2013 at 03:16:57 pm     #