Liquor Laboratory

Elijah Craig vs Buffalo Trace Bourbon Compared (2024)

Elijah Craig vs Buffalo Trace 

Buffalo Trace and Elijah Craig bourbons come from well-known distilleries. They’re both high-proof, with quality mash bill, and reasonably priced. 

But, if you were to choose between Elijah Craig vs Buffalo Trace – which delivers a better drinking experience? 

Let’s uncover their differences to help you determine the best choice.  

Elijah Craig vs Buffalo Trace In-depth Comparison 

bottles of Elijah Craig and Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace is enjoyable to drink and strikes a good balance between sweet and spicy tones. 

It features the right warmth and has no off-putting flavors. However, it’s hard to find nowadays and slightly expensive. 

Although Elijah Craig is not bad, it might not be the best dram for some because of the warm sensation it leaves on the palate.

However, it’s a better mixer than Buffalo Trace, as Buffalo Trace lacks the warmth and spice needed to create a delicious cocktail. 

Also, you can always grab a bottle of this spirit as it’s always available in liquor stores and is more affordable.  

How They Differ

History & Origin

Both have distinct histories and origins. The introduction of Elijah Craig started when Reverend Elijah Craig distilled whiskey using new charred oak barrels in 1789.  

The Buffalo Trace, on the other hand, was started by brothers Hancock Lee and Willis Lee in 1755.

They started distilling rye and established a distillery in 1812 with Harrison Blanton.

How It’s Made 

oak barrel

Elijah Craig bourbon is distilled using charred oak casks, the first distiller to do so, while the Buffalo Trace bourbon is distilled using a combination pot and column still. 

Both drams undergo fermentation, but the latter do not use any pot stills from Scotland in the distillation process [1]. 


Buffalo Trace is aged for at least eight years, while Elijah Craig small batch used to be aged for 12 years. However, in 2016, its age statement was removed, making Elijah Craig a no-age statement whiskey

Meanwhile, Buffalo Trace uses a more distinct aging process, in which the distiller stores the barrels in their warehouse’s middle floors, where temp fluctuations occur the greatest. 

Mash Bills & Alcohol Proof

Elijah Craig small batch bourbon contains 12% malted barley, 10% rye, and 77% corn, while the Buffalo Trace bourbons are produced using any of their primary mash bills: mash bill #1, mash bill #2, or the wheated and rye.

Elijah Craig is bottled at 94-proof (47% ABV), while the Buffalo Trace is bottled at 90-proof (45% ABV). 

Tasting Notes

pouring whisky on a glass

Buffalo Trace Bourbon 

  • Palate: Fruity sweet tones with oak spice, chocolate, and coffee
  • Nose: Mild nose of fruit sweetness with fine spice and cinnamon
  • Color: Deep copper
  • Finish: Medium-length finish with fruity, oak, and wood spice notes with vanilla and baking spice

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

  • Palate: Chocolate flavors with hints of citrus, caramel, butterscotch, and wood
  • Nose: Chocolate aroma with clove, oak, wood, and cinnamon notes on the nose
  • Color: Reddish brown
  • Finish: Warm finish with subtle wood spice notes, butterscotch, vanilla, spicy black pepper, and cinnamon

Ownership & Distillery

The Buffalo Trace Distillery distills Buffalo Trace and other spirits owned by the Sazerac Company.

Meanwhile, Heaven Hill Distilleries, owned by the Shapira Family, currently distills the Elijah Craig small batch, along with other alcoholic drinks like Evan Williams and Henry McKenna bourbons.  

Brand Reputation/Popularity 

Both are regarded as medium to top-shelf whiskey brands – making them regulars in the sipper category. 

Elijah Craig whiskeys are widely available, particularly the Elijah Craig small batch. So you can easily find these bottles in many liquor stores. 

On the other hand, Buffalo Trace Kentucky straight bourbon is harder to find (like the Wild Turkey Rare Breed) than Elijah Craig. 

Price Point & Value

Buffalo Trace is priced at around $34.99 per 750ml (Drizly), while Elijah Craig small batch is priced at approximately $33.99 per 750ml on Drizly (the same range as Evan Williams)

FAQs Related to Elijah Craig vs Buffalo Trace

Is Elijah Craig small batch sweeter than Buffalo Trace bourbon?

No, Buffalo Trace bourbon has a sweeter taste than Elijah Craig’s small batch, which is spicy and warm.
It is on the sweeter side as it features vanilla, chocolate, and sweet fruit tones. 

Which is more beginner-friendly, Buffalo Trace or Elijah Craig?

Buffalo Trace is more beginner-friendly than Elijah Craig, as it’s a well-rounded, easy sipper with a medium to full body.
It’s an excellent start for those whose not accustomed to complex and warm whiskeys.   

Which is better drunk straight, Elijah Craig or Buffalo Trace?

Buffalo Trace is better drunk straight than Elijah Craig small batch, as it doesn’t need the addition of water or ice.
This also makes it the best choice as an “everyday whiskey” due to its medium spicy finish with vanilla and oak tones. 

How do Elijah Craig and Buffalo Trace differ in taste?

Elijah Craig is known for its deep and robust flavor profile, with strong notes of caramel, oak, and spice, while Buffalo Trace offers a smoother and more balanced taste with hints of vanilla, toffee, and cinnamon.

Which one is stronger, Elijah Craig vs Buffalo Trace?

Elijah Craig tends to have a higher proof compared to Buffalo Trace, which contributes to its more intense flavor profile and stronger alcohol presence.

Can I use Elijah Craig and Buffalo Trace interchangeably in cocktails?

Yes! Both Elijah Craig and Buffalo Trace can be used interchangeably in cocktails, but the choice may depend on whether you prefer a bolder, more intense flavor (Elijah Craig) or a smoother, more approachable taste (Buffalo Trace).

Final Say 

You’ll find Buffalo Trace more nicely balanced and has a sweeter taste (like Woodford Reserve), suitable for beginners.

But, it can be hard to find as it’s always out of stock. 

On the other hand, if you love spicy and warm liquors, you better stay with Elijah Craig small batch for a complete drinking experience. Plus, they’re widely available. 

Overall, Elijah Craig small batch and Buffalo Trace are two good bourbons containing rye.

But if you haven’t tried Buffalo Trace before and looking for an excellent spirit to try, this dram is good to go.  


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