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Old Elk Wheat N' Rye




Whiskey Review: Old Elk Wheat N’ Rye

Tasting Notes:

A blend of the distillery’s 7-year Straight Wheat and 6-year Straight Rye whiskeys that’s bottled at 54.2% ABV.
What’s seen in the glass here reflects a typical golden amber profile, supported by moderate legs and decent viscosity.
Spicy, soft, and warm are the first things that come to mind on the nose, drawing together aromatics of honey, coriander, green apple, some subtle oak, a wee bit of warm bread, and graham crackers.
This opens a bit spicy but then quickly follows with a wave of sweetness that wipes the spice away, which feels a bit unbalanced. There’s some black pepper, honey, marzipan, sweet cherries, a little undercurrent of maple, oak, and a hint of green apple at the end.
The finish here is initially a bit more sweet than spicy, but more spice emerges as it hangs for a long time before dropping off.
Mastery of blended whiskey requires subtle showcasing of the varied flavors of the bottling’s components. The case of Old Elk Wheat N’ Rye admirably showcases that potential but is not as well-rounded as one could optimally hope for. The sweet and spicy balance doesn’t always work well together, but this is a pretty good expression overall.
Old Elk Wheat N' Rye review
We review Old Elk Wheat N’ Rye, a blend of the distillery’s 7-year Straight Wheat and 6-year Straight Rye whiskeys that’s bottled at 54.2% ABV. (image via Old Elk)

Editor’s Note: We received a review sample of this whiskey from the brand. However, in accordance with our editorial policies, this has not influenced the outcome of our review in any way.

Old Elk is one of Colorado’s more prominent craft distilleries these days. Founded in 2013, the distillery team here is led by Master Distiller Greg Metze, a decades-long veteran who learned his trade at the old Seagram’s Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and Melinda Maddox, who joined Old Elk in 2019 as the Beverage Director and, more recently, she became its first Master Blender.

Old Elk has its whiskeys contract distilled for it, leveraging “an existing distilling facility and their equipment to bring to life” its custom mash bills created by Metze. A particular focus of Old Elk is its so-called “Slow Cut Proofing Process,” in which water, instead of typically being added in a very short period to whiskey to proof it, is added over weeks in “small increments” to keep the liquid cool” and save “the delicate flavors” produced during “mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation” that is said to be lost when gallons of water are added nearly all at once.

Old Elk’s whiskey products focus on four key areas: core bottlings, a “Master’s Blend” series, a “Cask Finish” series, and some more specialized offerings. A high-malt bourbon helped put this distillery on the map, and these days, it is joined by wheat whiskey, rye whiskey, and wheated bourbon, among others.

What’s in the bottle

The whiskey being reviewed here, Old Elk Wheat N’ Rye, falls into the distillery’s Master’s Blend series. This blend of straight American whiskeys has a mash bill that’s (57.6%) Old Elk 7-year Straight Wheat Whiskey (95% Wheat, %5 Malted Barley), (38%) Old Elk 6-year Straight Rye Whiskey (95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley), and 4.4% malted barley. It is bottled at 54.2% ABV and priced at $109.99.

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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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