THE LIFE & LEGACY OF ELIJAH CRAIG
Reverend Elijah Craig was a Baptist preacher, an educator, and an entrepreneur who built the first paper and wool mills in Georgetown, Kentucky. But for all his industries, it was his gift as a distiller and an innovator that brought him his greatest acclaim.
While we draw inspiration from parts of Elijah Craig’s story as a distiller, a critical component of this history are the enslaved people who made major contributions to Bourbon. Elijah Craig was an enslaver, relying upon enslaved people to run his distilling and broader business operations. Uncovering the identities and roles of these laborers, how they contributed to the birth of the Bourbon industry and the legacy their families left is a critical mission of our brand today. Elijah Craig is actively engaged in academic research with the University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies and Central Kentucky Slavery Initiative, as well as other initiatives, to not only share a more transparent and inclusive account of our past, but to also make America today a more just and equitable country.
FIRST TO CHAR. FIRST IN CLASS.
In 1789, Elijah Craig became the first distiller to age his whiskey in new charred oak barrels. Some claim that an accidental fire charred his barrels and changed the whiskey inside. Others say he stored his whiskey in former sugar barrels and was impressed with how charring improved the flavor.
Today, Elijah Craig is
to all as
the Father of Bourbon
However it happened, Elijah Craig knew he had discovered something great. He continued to refine the barrel charring process, imparting smooth, rich flavor to the spirit that would become known as Bourbon. 250 years later, he is still known as the Father of Bourbon—and we craft our Bourbon today using the same time-honored methods.
THE SPARK OF INNOVATION
From our award-winning Small Batch Bourbons to our first-ever Straight Rye Whiskey,
our Master Distillers remain committed to honoring Elijah's innovative spirit. Discover the
Greatness Within Toasted Barrel: our newest expression finished in custom toasted barrels
for added sweet oak complexity. We think the Reverend Elijah Craig would approve.
Discover the Greatness Within Toasted Barrel: our newest expression finished in custom toasted barrels for added sweet oak complexity. We think the Reverend Elijah Craig would approve.
See where greatness begins—firsthand.
Visit us at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience.