Old Elk Wheated Bourbon

Maker: Old Elk Distillery, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Distiller: MGPI, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, USA

Style: High wheat straight bourbon (51% corn, 45% wheat, 4% malt)

Age: 5 y/o

Proof: 92 (46% ABV)

Michigan state minimum: $67

Appearance: Medium copper

Nose: Cassia, star anise, powdered ginger, oak, alcohol.

Palate: Sweet and spicy. Cinnamon, allspice.

Finish: Cola, cinnamon rolls.

Parting words: Old Elk is an NDP/Micro-distillery located in Fort Collins, CO run by Master Distiller Greg Metze, who was chief distiller at MGPI for 38 years. Those years included the ones that saw it rise from an obscure industrial distillery to a famous (and somewhat infamous) bulk and custom whiskey producer that fueled the explosive growth in independent bottlers in the US, and the rye boom.

The big wheaters on the market, currently, those made by Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, and Maker’s Mark all trace their recipes back to the bourbons made at the legendary Stizel-Weller distillery in Louisville. While there are differences betweeen them, they have more in common than not.

This wheater is different. It’s the first high wheat bourbon I’ve ever purchased, and boy is it high. It’s 6 percentage points away from being a wheat whiskey. It has a bit of the “biscuity” quality of wheat whiskeys, but its primary characteristic is spice. Specifically what is often called baking or Christmas spice. It’s truly a unique product in the world of bourbon.

Old Elk has a few sharp points, but at 5 years old, that’s to be expected. $67 is too expensive for a 5 y/o, 92 proof bottling from a major distillery, but I’m willing to give it a pass, given how unique and well-crafted it is. I would really like to see the age go up and the price go down, but even as it is, Old Elk Wheated Bourbon is recommended.

A brief word on the bottle itself. The label and shape of the bottle is elegant, but I don’t like how heavy it is. We’re in the midst of a global climate crisis. Heavy bottles=more fuel needed to move them=higher carbon emissions. It’s (past) time to dump the heavy bottles.

Colorado Straight Bourbon

Maker: Peach Street Distillers, Palisade, Colorado, USAPeach Street CSB

Batch: 20

Age: 2 y/o

Proof: 92 (46% ABV)

Thanks: to the Rhoades for splitting this bottle with me.

Note: Apologies for the short review. This review was originally intended to be half of a head to head review, but I thought it would work better as a stand alone.

Appearance: Shiny new penny.

Nose: Corn syrup, bubble gum, nail polish.

On the palate: Full bodied and soft. Sweet and a little fruity. Grape bubble gum with a sharp hit of Serrano chili at the end.

Finish: Sweet and corny like a beloved uncle. The sweetness coats the mouth and lingers for a long time mingled with a little burn.

Parting words: The Colorado Straight Bourbon from Peach Street Distillers is VERY young, at just over two years old. It tastes like it too. The heavy body, corniness and fruit are all typical characteristics of young bourbons but it does show a lot of potential for long aging. Sweet, fruity stuff like this usually ages very well.

In its current state, it is high quality young bourbon. It goes down easy, as long as you don’t choke on the price. Expect to pay well over $50 per 750 ml bottle. Still, it’s good and I can’t say it isn’t. Colorado Straight Bourbon is mildly recommended.