Review: Old Elk Continues to Master Wheated Whiskey
“Extreme” wheat mashbills get a revision with two new limited releases from this Colorado distillery
What we’re drinking: Old Elk Double Wheat Straight Whiskey and Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey, part of the distillery’s Master’s Blend Series
Where it’s from: Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Old Elk is headed up by Master Distiller Greg Metze, a 40-plus-year vet of the whiskey world who spent 14 of those years as the Master Distiller for MGP/LDI.
Why we’re drinking this: In its relatively short lifespan — the brand launched in 2013 — Old Elk has mastered the “wheated” whiskey category. So we were curious what these new limited releases could do with their wheat-forward mashbills.
“The wheated whisky and wheated bourbon came out a little over a year ago, and the mashbills on those two are extreme relative to the categories,” says Metze. “And I realized we could create mashbills within mashbills with those and create something really different.” Here, that means two wheat-centric releases that aren’t quite as extreme as Old Elk’s core wheated lineup, but also unusual for being a bourbon and a four-grain whiskey.
Interestingly, Metze doesn’t go into these special projects knowing what the final product will produce. “The percentages on the mashbills that I think will be a home run never come to fruition,” admits Metze. “So instead, I look for one that stands out and has different aspects I think are pleasing. But I don’t really blend to specific descriptors.”
How it tastes:
- Old Elk Double Wheat Straight Whiskey: A combination of Old Elk Straight Wheat Whiskey (aged 6-8 years) and Old Elk Wheated Bourbon (aged 6 years), this 107.1 proof release features a blend breakdown of 71.5% wheat, 25% corn and 3.5% barley. Candied fruit and butterscotch on the nose, this one delivers pepper, burnt caramel and some bready and jammy notes on the palate, complete with a rich mouthfeel and some lingering fruit.
- Old Elk Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a blend of four cereal grains (51% corn, 22.5% wheat, 19% barley, 7.5% rye), aged 6-7 years with an ABV of 52.95%. The rye is surprisingly powerful here, but tempered by a caramel corn sweetness, almond and heavy vanilla notes. For a bourbon, this one could work for rye or wheater fans.
Fun fact: Metze (along with Beverage Director Melinda Maddox) also oversees Whiskeysmith, a flavored whiskey we actually recommend.
Where to buy: These Old Elk Master Blend Series expressions are part of a national limited release, available at select retailers with a suggested retail price of $99.99 per 750 ml bottle. You’ll also be able to order it online soon.
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