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Elijah Craig vs Woodford Reserve Bourbon: Which is Better?

Elijah Craig vs Woodford Reserve

Torn between Elijah Craig vs Woodford Reserve? Though both Elijah Craig and Woodford Reserve are Kentucky straight bourbon whiskeys, it’s tough to choose which one deserves your sip after a long day.

If you’re confused, let’s discover their differences and edge over the other to determine the better choice. 

Comparing Elijah Craig vs Woodford Reserve 

bottles of Elijah Craig and Woodford Reserve

Elijah Craig is more difficult to drink because it is warmer than Woodford Reserve.

Woodford Reserve is not as tasty as Elijah Craig, but it has a nice balance of flavors, which creates enough smoothness, making it a satisfying bourbon drink. 

The edge of Elijah Craig is its low price point, which is around $34.99, compared to the Woodford Reserve, which costs approximately $39.99. 

And if you love high-proof spirits, you’ll love Elijah Craig’s 94-proof alcohol content overshadowing Woodford’s 90.4-proof alcohol content. 

Their Differences 

History & Origin

The legacy of Elijah Craig started when Reverend Elijah Craig began to age whiskey in new charred oak barrels.

There are theories on how he aged the whiskey: he accidentally fire-charred the barrels, changing the whiskey inside, or he really used former sugar barrels, improving the flavor. 

Regardless, Elijah Craig started to catch the attention of whiskey drinkers with its barrel charring process that creates a rich and smooth flavor.  

Years later, after Elijah Craig, Woodford Reserve came. The history started when Elijah Pepper began using corn to distill whiskey. In 1812, he moved the distillation to Glenn’s Creek, which is Woodford’s site until today.  

Production Process 

mash bill

Elijah Craig and Woodford Reserve both undergo fermentation and distillation processes. Their mash bill is almost similar, with just a little difference in the percentage of the ingredients. 

Elijah’s mash bill is 10% rye, 78% corn, and 12% malted barley, while the Woodford Reserve has 18% rye, 72% corn, and 10% barley. 

Both have their own unique process to produce such spirits. Elijah Craig is produced by firing new oak barrels for 40 seconds to achieve the third-level char, resulting in an aromatic, rich, and warm spice. 

On the other hand, Woodford Reserve is produced using the combination of column distillate and pot still, which is triple distilled using three big copper pot stills straight from Scotland. 

Maturation & Age Statement

The maturation process for Elijah Craig’s small batch is at least 12 years, and it is bottled at 47% ABV. However, in 2016, Elijah Craig removed the statement, making it a no-age-statement version today. 

In comparison, Woodford Reserve Kentucky straight bourbon does not carry an age statement either, but it is aged for at least 6-7 years and bottled at 45.2% ABV.

Tasting Notes

man drinking whisky

Elijah Craig Small Bourbon

  • Palate: Chocolate notes with hints of citrus, butterscotch, and wood
  • Nose: Chocolate aroma with tones of clove, cinnamon, and wood
  • Color: Elijah Craig small batch features a reddish-brown hue.
  • Finish: It has a spicy finish with notes of vanilla, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, and bits of wood spice.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

  • Palate: Sweet oaky flavor with notes of sweet fruit, mint, and bits of cinnamon 
  • Nose: Mint aroma with hints of vanilla, honey, bread, and citrus peel 
  • Color: Woodford Reserve features a medium amber hue.
  • Finish: It has a long-lasting and warm finish with hints of sweetness.

How It’s Served

Of the two prominent spirits, Woodford Reserve is a good sipping whiskey. It means you can serve it neat or over ice. Due to its smoothness with hints of spiciness and subtle sweetness, it’s a mellow whiskey with enough heat suitable for types of drinkers. 

As for Elijah Craig, we can say that it’s not really an excellent sipping whiskey (even if it belongs to the sipping category). It is best served with a splash of water to remove a little heat and the bits of pepper spice. 

Alternatively, you can make a cocktail with it, like Old Fashioned and Manhattan

Ownership & Distillery 

man drinking whisky

Elijah Craig bourbon whiskey is distilled by Heaven Hill Distillery in Louiseville, Kentucky, with a headquarter in Bardstown, Kentucky.

The current owner of Heaven Hill is the Shapira Family [1]. 

Woodford Reserve is a premium brand of Kentucky straight bourbon owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation, produced in Woodford County, Kentucky.

The distillation process also occurred at the Brown-Forman Woodford Reserve Distillery, situated in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky [2]. 

Price Point & Value

Though both spirits are affordable, Woodford Reserve is a little higher priced than Elijah Craig. 

As of writing, the 750ml bottle of Woodford Reserve Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey costs around $39.99 (Drizly), while the Elijah Craig small batch bourbon, in particular, only costs around $34.99 (Drizly). 

Note: The price may vary depending on the liquor store


Which is a better sipper, Elijah Craig or Woodford Reserve?

Woodford Reserve is a better sipper because it features a deeper flavor set than the Elijah Craig, which is sweeter yet on the warmer side.
You can enjoy Woodford Reserve alone, neat, or on the rocks. 

Are Woodford Reserve and Elijah Craig bourbons rare?

Woodford Reserve and Elijah Craig are not rare bourbons.
Though you can’t see them in all liquor stores, there are stores where you can easily buy these spirits (even online). Generally, Elijah Craig is more widely available. 

Are Woodford Reserve and Elijah Craig bourbons top-shelf?

Yes, Woodford Reserve and Elijah Craig are top-shelf bourbon whiskeys. They’re both made from high-quality ingredients and produced by prominent whiskey brands.  

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 or 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).

In Conclusion

Overall, in the Elijah Craig vs Woodford Reserve battle, Elijah Craig has more edge than the Woodford Reserve.

It has a low price point, is high-proof, more mature, and great with cocktails. Also, if you’re into spicy spirits with a warm finish, go for Elijah Craig. 

But if you’re very particular about the flavor profile, go for Woodford Reserve.

You’ll love its well-balanced flavors and enough warmth, making it a good sipping whiskey.

It’s a little more expensive than Elijah Craig, though, but it’s reasonably priced. 


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