Sourced whiskey has been a big story in the spirits world over the last five years, but Old Elk Bourbon has a claim that no others can make. They went out and hired the guy responsible for distilling the whiskey they sourced.
Here’s a quick recap for those who don’t follow the spirits industry closely, which is probably most of you. Lots of distilleries have popped in the wake of the US whiskey boom. Whiskey, at least any worth drinking, needs to be aged before selling it though, which puts new distilleries in a tricky position. Many of them solved the cashflow problem by purchasing whiskey from others and selling it under their own label.
Some distilleries/bottlers use unique finishes or clever blending to make it their own while others just slap a label on it and call it good. Many hid this fact – dig through Josh Peter’s latest piece on Templeton Rye, including past links, next time you’re bored – while others were open and honest about it. The former caused a big uproar while the latter was accepted without much scrutiny.
That brings us to Old Elk. The Fort Collins, Colorado-based distillery sells Old Elk Bourbon as their flagship product. The whiskey started as a partnership between Old Elk Distillery and Master Distiller Greg Metze. At the time, Metze was the master distiller at MGP, the massive Lawrenceberg, Indiana distillery that’s still responsible for much rye whiskey on the market today. It was there that Metze and Old Elk developed their new mashbill and began aging it, but he has since come on as Old Elk’s full-time master distiller. So while Old Elk Bourbon is a sourced whiskey… it just so happens to be sourced by the guy who made it as well.
As for the bourbon, it’s a unique recipe. Old Elk Bourbon’s mashbill is 51% corn, 34% malted barley, and 15% rye. What that means for you is that it’s – baby Jesus forgive me for saying this – smoother than most whiskeys. Malted barley typically makes up about 5-10%, but the quadrupling of it leads to a ridiculously smooth sip.
For those who buy whiskey based entirely on vanity, the bottle looks great. They didn’t make it an obnoxious shape to get attention, instead relying on a stellar cork stopper that looks like it was carved directly from the trunk of a tree. While it’s not available nationwide just yet, it can be found in 21 states. MSRP is $50.
Old Elk Bourbon Tasting Notes
From the distillery:
Aroma: Sweet vanilla and caramel, clove spice, slight maple, and nutty almond
Taste: Maple syrup, almond, raw bran, chocolate, deep wood, and coconut
Mouthfeel: Smooth and coating with a lasting flavor