I love trying new things & this release is fresh off the truck! Many folks in the Instagram community got sent some samples of these fantastic releases - I got sent the Four Grain thanks to the wonderful folks at Old Elk, but knew I couldn't sleep on this Double Wheat release. I immediately headed over to Kappy's Liquors in Medford to grab one once I knew it was available. I did a short write up on this one as I tasted through a small sip flight recently, but I have been seeing a lot of demand for a review on this one so I figured I'd give it a deeper dive tonight.
Company on Label: Old Elk
Whiskey Type: Wheated Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 71.5% Wheat, 25% Corn, 3.5% Malted Barley
Age: 6 years (blend of 6-8 year whiskeys)
Further identification: This is the recent 2022 release of this new product for Old Elk; it circulated in my area starting in May
Nose: On the nose immediately there is a surprising caramelized corn aroma which is crazy given I'm used to drinking a lot of 51%+ bourbons that don't typically show this off this drastically. This does it quite powerfully at a mere 25%. There are sugary and savory notes well intertwined throughout this; I can tell already that this is going to take some picking apart to understand. I'm quite surprised by how dark the aromas in the glass are - not so much heavy, but more like a damp farm with their grain storage filled to the brims. There's a shiny copper metallic smell alongside muted stew spices. So far this nosing experience is just not up my alley. I think I'll go for a sip to see if I'm just stuck on the wrong things here.
Coming back to the nose I find things have lightened significantly and a creamy banana bread has taken over. It definitely doesn't smell like any of your typical whiskey releases these days - testament to the fun experimental side that Greg Metze has really been flexing in his role there. There are some soft floral tones in the background I wasn't finding before as well. We're back to that dark, funky, musty leather aroma now. There's a hint of skunked pepper on the back end of deep inhales too. This thing smells absolutely wild! The empty glass smells of some kind of funky candle smell that you'd find at the Christmas Tree Shoppe or Yankee Candle; wow....
Palate: When the whiskey first hits my tongue I find hints of banana peel and a really syrupy, sugary mouth feel slowly makes its way around my taste buds. The mouth coating is quite thin with an airy caramel crisp being the predominant flavor. The linger hangs up in the gums for a little while without pushing out too much in the way of flavor. Ooh, now things are opening up a little better. I get some nice graham cracker flavor upon giving the whiskey a little air as I sip. Sipping again I find a funky, herbal chocolate note that just doesn't quite jive; it almost leans into the flavor of black coffee. As I get towards the bottom of the glass the creamy notes continue to build which I definitely like better than where the glass started. There is a slight proof imbalance on the linger that's definitely a surprise for me. My last sip finally touches on a few subtle stone fruit, but they fade quickly and leave me with that same light caramel and a fair bit of oak lingering.
I am quite surprised by this score tonight! I really liked it a lot more the other night when I was a bit more tired. I do think this is a bottle I will go back and forth on, which is why it perfectly exemplifies what my 3/5 score means! I can definitely go either way on this one. One night I really was digging it - tonight, not so much! Oh well - I do know I love their wheated bourbon mash bill specifically as I've personally picked 3 single barrels of it thus far and certainly plan to pick more in the future. I don't think the wheat whiskey did the wheated bourbon any favors here tonight. But, this might be the risk you take when you are doing stuff as experimental as Old Elk is doing - not all of your mixes are going to hit the mark. If you are a fan of mustier, darker flavors this release might actually be for you. I've definitely had more hits than misses personally though, and I look forward to jumping into the Four Grain release soon!