When it comes to absolute bang-for-your-buck value, few Bourbons compete with Elijah Craig 12 Year Old. This brand is a favorite, a bold yet mature Bourbon that retails for under $30.
But when I found a bottle of Ezra Brooks 12 Year Old Single Barrel on the Caskers.com website for $37 (plus shipping and handling), I had to pull the trigger. And, since both bottles were on the shelf of my shebeen, I thought it would be a great excuse to write about both offerings.
First, a little background information about each brand:
Elijah Craig is owned by Heaven Hill – a company well respected for their honest pricing strategy. It is a true “Small Batch” Bourbon. Although that term holds no legal recognition, each batch used in this offering contains no more than 100 barrels, according to the Elijah Craig Website. It is bottled at 94-proof.
Ezra Brooks is owned by Luxco brands, based in Missouri. Luxco also brought us El Mayor tequila (my favorite añejo) and Everclear. Usually, it is hard to find a Single-Barrel or 12-year whiskey for under $40 – this Ezra Brooks bottling gives you both! It is bottled at 99-proof. The bottle sampled for this post was from barrel No. 568 and was bottled October, 2014.
Let’s add some tasting notes:
Color: Dark amber
Nose: Smoke, oak, the dusky, damp-earthy aroma of rye grain and a hint of barley
Tongue: Earthy and smoky, with malt and rye notes and a bit of almond
Color: Golden amber
Nose: Oak and faint vanilla
Tongue: Balanced, very faint smoke flavor with a touch of corn sweetness
Now, I’m not going to do something as crass as give them scores or pick a favorite. Quite frankly, it’s not fair to write about these two offerings together, let alone compare them. One is a single barrel, the other the contents of many casks and therefore more balanced.
But the truth is that both of these whiskeys offer great value. They are punching above their pricing tier. Ezra Brooks is rightfully a few more dollars due to the fact that, as a single barrel, there is less liquid available to consumers.