Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The Old Elk Distillery was founded in 2013 in Fort Collins, Colorado, a lovely city located about an hour north of Denver, and an hour south of Cheyenne, Wyoming. With the Rocky Mountain National Park, and its breathtaking peaks (eighteen of which exceed 13,000 feet) only 35 miles to the west, the Old Elk Distillery takes its name from the herds of elk that roam those very peaks and valleys.
Of course, most casual imbibers usually only think of Kentucky and Tennessee when they think of bourbon, but the explosion of craft distillers over the past decade has certainly put Colorado distilleries on the map.
Heading the creation of Old Elk’s portfolio of spirits and the creation of their custom mash bills is Master Distiller, Greg Metze, who “began his distiller’s journey after completing an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Cincinnati.” Greg earned the title of Master Distiller in 2002, and first began working with Old Elk, with the creation of the distillery’s first custom mash bill, while still a Master Distiller at Midwest Grain Producers (MGP). In 2016, Greg went in-house with Old Elk as the distillery’s full time Master Distiller.
In 2021, Old Elk Distillery launched the Cask Finish Series, a limited national release featuring a Port Cask Finish Straight Bourbon Whiskey and a Cognac Cask Finish Straight Bourbon Whiskey. In 2022, they added a Rum Cask Finish, which is finished in 14-year-old Barbados rum barrels. “The Cask Finish Series is based on Old Elk’s core products, including its award-winning High-Malt Bourbon and Rye Whiskey…” In 2021, the Cognac Cask Finish whiskey was the winner of a Gold Medal (92 points, exceptional) from the Beverage Testing Institute.
When it comes to proofing their whiskey before bottling, Old Elk uses what they’ve named the Slow Cut proofing process. Instead of adding water over a 24–48 hour period like many distilleries, they introduce the water over multiple weeks. Old Elk’s marketing materials state, “Instead of a day, we spend weeks adding small increments of water to keep our liquid cool and save the delicate flavors our team works so hard to produce during mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation.” For readers interested in a little more information on proofing, check out The Whiskey Wash article, Proofing: Watering Whiskey Down the Right Way.
What I’m reviewing here is Old Elk Straight Bourbon Cognac Cask Finish, which takes the distillery’s signature high-malt bourbon and finishes it for 10 months in ex-cognac casks.
Tasting Notes: Old Elk Straight Bourbon Cognac Cask Finish
Vital Stats: The base is Old Elk’s signature high-malt bourbon aged a minimum of five years in 72-gallon Limousin oak casks, and finished in “world-class” cognac casks for an additional 10 months; 109.7 Proof, 54.85% ABV; mash bill: 51% Corn, 34% Barley, and 15% Rye; 750ml; MSRP $99.99
Appearance: The color is a little lighter than the port cask finished offering in this series, and presents a little lighter on the color spectrum – closer to a mix of medium brown and aged gold.
Nose: A pleasant candied sweetness, warmed apple, and the proof definitely presents in the ethanol vapors.
Palate: Warm brown sugar, a mellow ribbon of stone fruit tending toward prune, rye spice and pepper.
Whiskey Review: Old Elk Straight Bourbon Cognac Cask Finish
If you have tried Old Elk’s unique mash bill of high-malt bourbon and like it, what fun to be able to revisit the offering with two distinct cask finishes. I personally enjoyed the port finish a touch more than this cognac finish, but I recommend exploring both if you already have an affinity for Old Elk’s bourbon.
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Devon Lyon has spent the past two decades producing video content as well as writing copy and scripts for clients around the globe. But no matter how strong his natural wanderlust, it’s the Pacific Northwest he calls home. Whether it’s the growing local craft spirit scene, world-class wines, or a...