Old Elk Straight Wheat Whiskey
I’ve been hearing a number of folks talk about this product, and heard some positive reviews about the single barrel expressions. Wheat whiskey isn’t something that has a major presence on the shelves, so it’ll be an interesting pour. Let’s have a look!
Old Elk, as a brand, isn’t actually old. Founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Curt Richardson (founder of OtterBox) the brand seems to have emerged the opposite way most new whiskey brands do–due to the fact that appeared on the scene with financial backing, business structure, and a boatload of distilling experience from the get-go. What kind of distilling experience? Oh, you know, just the casual 38 years of experience Greg Metze had at a particular large distillery in Indiana. This is from Metze’s bio on the Old Elk website:
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1978 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Greg spent his entire professional career preparing for his Master Distiller role, which he achieved in 2002. The path took him from entry-level shift supervisory positions, to maintenance, engineering, and on to production where he learned the art of running a distillery.
Considering the craze surrounding MGP whiskeys recently, it only stands to reason that Old Elk will be bringing enjoyable products to the market once they come to age. Speaking of age, this product is age-state at five years. I have to give the brand credit for seeming to “do it right” in terms of bringing their product to market with an age statement, good price-point, and keeping the ABV percentage high enough that whiskey geeks won’t immediately be turned off. Another curiosity here that is unique to Old Elk is that you can see the label tells us this was distilled in Indiana. So we know this is technically sourced, it would have been distilled by the same Master Distiller. Just an interesting part of the brand I suppose.
5 year age-stated straight wheat whiskey 100 proof
Nose – Sweet caramel. A touch of green apple and a light amount of that wheat grain. There’s a nice toasty vanilla note going on, and while I expected it to be a little weird…it’s just coming across like a nice sweet whiskey.
Taste – A nice mouthfeel that walks down the jaw line and a soft sweet caramel. There’s a bit of buttery sweet vanilla. Not super complex, but no flaws. This is a fun pour that brings all of the sweet notes you could expect in a bourbon, but seems to lack depth.
Finish – So, this is interesting…the finish rolls on for quite a long time. It’s not a high-ethanol tingling finish, just the flavors that have really coated the palate. It’s buttery and vanilla and sweet and there’s even a touch of baking spice that pops out here. I dig this.
Bourbon Finder Grade: B-
The whiskey itself isn’t all that complex, but there isn’t a damn thing wrong with it. It hits all of the notes for a nice sweet American whiskey that checks off plenty of boxes, and there have been a lot of great single barrel picks of this popping up, I am excited to try some of those. If you see this on the shelf and you’re looking to try something new I think it’s totally worth getting into.
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!