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A thought popped into my mind recently after looking through the newly renovated Heaven Hill Visitor’s Center. If you elect to take a certain tour, you can fill up your own bottle of Barrel Proof Heaven Hill Bourbon, Elijah Craig, Larceny or Bernheim Wheat Whiskey.
This is a fantastic time to be a bourbon enthusiast who has the ability to go to Bardstown, Kentucky. Even better news was announced earlier this year when the press reported that stores will now be allowed to select a single barrel of Elijah Craig bottled at barrel proof.
This will surely result in a sort of “Arms Race” to see which store will have the highest proofed version when they begin hitting shelves. Enthusiasts everywhere gleefully looked forward for this High Proof Armageddon.
So with all of this barrel proof Heaven Hill bourbon floating around, along with the standard 3 releases of Elijah Craig and Larceny Barrel Proof that gets dropped each year, where does the tiny Elijah Craig Grenade fit into it all?
Elijah Craig Grenade
For those of you who may not know, Elijah Craig Barrel Select Single Barrel (aka: The Grenade) was a gift shop staple for many years.
It only holds 200ml’s and has been priced from $25 to $30. It wasn’t quite barrel proof, but at a constant 125 proof it was probably close enough (actually, that would make it a Full Proof bourbon come to think of it).
There was never any information on how old it was or what kinds of barrels were selected for it, but it was always a great grab to bring back home with you from vacation or a quick visit.
As 2020 went on and the bourbon secondary market exploded, the once common Grenades began to disappear completely from the gift shop.
It was unknown if they were being bought up at crazy rates or if Heaven Hill just wasn’t producing as much anymore. In early 2021, the gift shop began letting people that they would only get about 30 bottles in per day and if you weren’t there early enough, they’d sell out.
In my previous review of the Grenade, I noted how the math worked against the value of these gift shop-only bottles to where they’d realistically be around $100 if you were to buy enough to fill up a standard 750ml bottle.
What will be the appeal of the Grenade?
However, it’s becoming apparent that the price for many of the fill-your-own bottles and EC store picks are already going to be about that much anyway. So that leads me to wonder what the appeal of the Grenade will be anymore.
I’m assuming that Heaven Hill will continue devoting barrels to fill these tiny bottles because enthusiasts will probably turn their attention to the tours that end with filling their own private bottle rather than taking a chance on buying 3.5 bottles of Grenades with unknown age and yumminess factors.
My opinion is that the Grenades will then be relegated back to the status they once had with ordinary people who wanted something from the gift shop but didn’t want to spend a lot of money.
I do have one suggestion for Heaven Hill to make even more money though. I’d take the idea of the EC Grenade and expand it to the other core labels of Heaven Hill. Make them single barrel and fill them at a high proof (125 or so).
Could you imagine how wild people would be for a tiny 200ml of Mellow Corn bottled at 125 proof? Or Pikesville? It would be like printing money.
Heaven Hill is ushering in a new golden age with all of these new barrel proof products designed for bourbon enthusiasts, but I think there is still room left for the tiny glass barrels of Elijah Craig Barrel Select’s.
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