Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon is produced by the Old Elk Distillery in Fort Collins, Colorado which is helmed by Greg Metze who used to be the master distiller at MGP. This whiskey uses a mashbill that contains an insane amount of malted barley for a bourbon, 34% to be exact. Most bourbons come in at the 4-6% range making this a unique mashbill in the bourbon world where rye or wheat are typically the second highest grain in the mashbill.
In Old Elk Distillery’s Words: Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon
“Old Elk Distillery is currently a production facility, with a vision to open a larger distillery and tasting room in Colorado. The Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskey recipe was created by the Old Elk Distillery team and Greg Metze. To help age and blend the bourbon whiskey, Old Elk worked with three key partners to ensure the quality and consistency of our barrel-aged blended bourbon. Every Old Elk Bourbon barrel is hand-selected by our distilling team, where they follow sensory and sampling criteria to ensure the barrels create a consistent blended profile year after year.”
So what exactly makes the Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon a blend? Well if we take a look at Fred Minnick’s site we find out some of the details from Greg himself
“The mash bill was developed as a collaborative effort between myself and Old Elk and distilled under my tutelage while Master Distiller of the Lawrenceburg plant,” Metze told me. “It’s blended with various aged bourbons ranging from 2.8 – 8.2 years.”
Which to me still didn’t fully explain why it’s called the Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon. All distilleries blend various ages together to make their whiskeys so it should just be called a bourbon if it all came from MGP; meaning it had to contain whiskey from other distilleries or using blending or flavoring additives. But Metze didn’t intone either to Fred so I reached out to Old Elk to see why exactly they call it a blended straight bourbon.
Here’s what Greg and team wrote back about the naming of theirOld Elk Blended Straight Bourbon:
The “Standards of Identity” used by the TTB can be confusing:
So, to clarify, Old Elk [Blended Straight] Bourbon contains no coloring, flavoring or blending materials. Old Elk [Blended Straight] Bourbon meets all of the requirements to be called a “Straight Bourbon Whiskey” except that the bourbon whiskies used in the blend were not produced in the same state.
- Old Elk [Blended Straight] Bourbon conforms to Section 2 Grain Spirits (1)(i) Bourbon Whisky
- Old Elk [Blended Straight] Bourbon also conforms to Section 2 Grain Spirits (1)(iii) as a “Straight Bourbon Whisky” except that it is a blend of straight bourbon whiskies from other states, not the same state.
- Therefore, Old Elk [Blended Straight] Bourbon is relegated to Section 5 (ii) “A Blend of Straight Bourbon Whiskies” which allows the use of coloring, flavoring or blending materials but does not mandate it.
And to clarify the “same state” mention, our introductory batch of Old Elk[Blended Straight] Bourbon was created with partners in New York, Indiana and Colorado. The recipe is our recipe (crafted by Greg), but as we get up to speed on our production facility here at home in CO, we worked with partners to help age. Therefore, the “different states” aspect comes into play there. Looking toward the future, once distillery operations expand, we plan to produce Old Elk out of Fort Collins, CO – where the company headquarters are based.
There you have it. A completely innocent and logical explanation behind the classification. Now the big question is how does it taste and smell? Let’s dig into the Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon review to find out!
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon Info
Blender / Bottler: Old Elk Distillery
Mashbill: 51% Corn, 34% Malted Barley, 15% Rye
Cask: New Charred Oak
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon Review
Honey, toffee, vanilla, orange peels, cocoa, spice, fruit and a bit of oak and Smarties.
Corn, caramel, vanilla, biscuits, peanuts and a bit of oak and fruit.
Short -> Fruit, vanilla, corn and nuts.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Ok balance, thin body and a light watery feel.
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon is just ok. I know Greg Metze will end up making some killer whiskey up there in Colorado, because MGP has cranked out killed stuff for years, so I’m not worried about the future of Old Elk. I have zero doubt they’ll be pumping out amazing whiskey in a couple years. The presthoughught I’m not exactly fawning over.
While I like the bottle design and love the irony of a NDP sourcing whiskey he actually did distill, the whiskey itself doesn’t really make an impact on me. Made with 2-8-year-old whiskey, aged in multiple different climates but distilled by Greg at MGP, is a bit… meh. It’s easy to find a similar profile to the Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon in something like an Evan Williams.
I had high hopes it was going to be as awesome as Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon which he 100% distilled and was aged in Indiana, but not put out by him, is so darn good. Lots of irony going on here. But again, I’m not disheartened by this because the stuff I’m really interested in trying from Old Elk is the stuff Greg will be putting out in a couple years; a future I’m definitely excited for.
SCORE: 82/100 (B-)
*Disclosure: This Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.