I'm finally getting around to sitting down for a longer sit with this Four Grain release. It did well on my first-thoughts post I dropped on Instagram closer to when it released. I actually also have a bottle of this that I split with my good friend @bourbondipity_ so hopefully it's good!
My initial thoughts from the flight from the quick Instagram review night:
I definitely get the high malt bourbon banana note that's prevalent on the single barrels that I've selected from that mash bill. Funny enough I tried my own version of this before I even knew this release was coming around. I mixed the @spiritanimalsociety bourbon barrel pick with the @massbourbonalliance wheated bourbon pick and it came out awesome. This one smells like it could almost have some red wine characteristics. Sipping I find the same banana as the nose. There's a great vanilla bean sweetness and a long linger. It's certainly malty and that Metze Malt special sticks to your taste buds fairly strongly.
I'd like to thank @oldelkbourbon for sending this to me with no strings attached for an honest review. Let's see how this blend turned out!
Company on Label: Old Elk Distillery
Whiskey Type: Four Grain Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 51% Corn, 22.5% Wheat, 19% Malted Barley, 7.5% Rye
Age: 6 years (blend of 6-7 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. It is a blend of 6-7 year high-malt bourbon and 6 year wheated bourbon
Nose: Up front I find nice, crispy caramel corn right away. There's a lovely malty, funky rick house aroma that I love. There's troves of level oak sitting right at the perfect age where things round out. I'm so surprised about the caramel popcorn smell; it's slightly salty which comes off savory and delicious. A lovely dusty, dried shelled corn aroma keeps finding deep prevalence here. There's a savory barbecue note I'm digging. Wow, as I continue to take deep inhales off the surface of the glass I find incredibly rich malt notes starting to take over which is likely more of an artifact of that high malt bourbon. I'm surprised that I am not finding more of the banana note I tend to expect out of the high malt bourbons though. I mentioned the banana note in the Instagram review above. Later in the glass things haven't evolved drastically but it seems to have taken on some floral and cinnamon undertones. It continues to be very chocolate & malty all the way through for me. Time for a sip!
After taking a drink off the glass, the nose intensity increases towards the absolute corn bomb. It smells like it could be significantly higher than 51% corn for some reason! It's so funky, but I really like it. It reminds me a bit of the aroma of the 8 year Willett high corn bourbon from barrel #6061. There's a lot of buttery pie crust characteristics hanging out late in the glass alongside just a touch of smoke. The empty glass smells of marbled rye, warm Indiana air, and cooked white rice.
Palate: My first sip is dark, chocolatey and bam(!) there's the banana note I was expecting. It's paired well with a toasted vanilla note. Another sip really shows off the major league corn that I was finding on the nose. The linger is long and tingling up in the outside of my gums. There is a banana split feel that comes up in soft waves from the medium viscosity mouthfeel. There's soft cinnamon, crème brûlée, banana bread and a big baking spice sizzle. This doesn't have a ton of depth to it, but the flavors it does show off feel really well crafted. The best way I could summarize this would be that it's like a banana split covered in crushed caramel popcorn. My last sip is notably vanilla forward, there's a zesty candied banana pop and then a long, undulating wave of Little Debbie nutty bars. Yum!
This thing is a corn monster! Overall it's a very good blend that I think showcases the skill that Greg Metze and team has well. I wish it did just a touch more in the way of nuanced flavors, but it's also really hard to make a cohesive blend such as this, so kudos to the Old Elk team for that.