It's time for another Mass Bourbon Alliance pick! Liquor Junction doesn't sleep in the whiskey world and neither do we. Derek and I both got to try a small taste of this and it was an immediate resounding yes. My first impressions were that this is a rum finish done right; the creamy texture one would expect from a rum barrel is applied delicately but deliberately to an already delicious rye whiskey. I brought the rest of the sample away with me to do some proper tasting notes for those that might be on the fence (you're crazy - buy this one)!
Old Elk has been producing some incredible whiskeys. I've had the glorious fortune of picking 3 barrels of their wheated bourbon and a barrel of their straight bourbon... Every time I am presented with samples from them it is a really difficult decision to narrow down which is my favorite. The level of consistency (even out of a brand and a master distiller so hellbent on innovation) is incredible.
Let's get into this really unique offering!
Company on Label: Old Elk
Whiskey Type: Finished Straight Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Age: 5 years
Further identification: This is an upcoming barrel pick from Mass Bourbon Alliance in collaboration with Liquor Junction (@LJWhiskeyFamily) out of Reading, MA; expect this sometime in the Winter of 2022. It has a 'distilled in Indiana' statement & it comes from barrel 5019.
Nose: From a distance I can smell delectable, sugary vanilla frosting wafting off the glass. Raising the glass to my nose I find a bouquet of lovely floral, sweet, traditional rye. It's nuanced with touches of raisin, elderberry, honeysuckle and grapefruit blossom. There's a citrus characteristic that is subdued, but delicious so I find myself digging deep with strong inhales. The nose-feel is incredibly soft, silky, and delicate - though that may have some part to do with the temperature of my whiskey that has acclimated towards something nearing the outside temperature of 57°. A brief swirl of the glass builds out the barrel influence as oak and light caramel begins to enter the mix. Eucalyptus brings just a touch of mint to the experience, though it's layered well with honey, vanilla and crème fraîche. Swirling the glass vigorously produces delicious strawberry and raisin fruit atop a bowl of cereal. Time for a sip!
Returning to the glass I find some more tropical-style fruit have begun to bubble up with pineapple and kiwi coming off juicy. Mmm - the nose just settled into a lovely marshmallow sweetness that I adore finding on any glass of whiskey. I've spent a really long time just on the nose here - and rightfully so - but everything has been so deliberately apparent it would seem like this barrel was crafted just for the occasion. I'm swooning a bit here. This is really something special. Another wild swirl of the glass produces fleeting smoky tones alongside a stronger bready note. The nose is so perfectly put together: there's balance, heft and quality all baked into every aroma. The empty glass smells of black forest cake, sweet raspberry, and grenache wine.
Palate: My first sip is so creamy upfront; it's like a mouthful of whipped cream! Cherry immediately follows and slides down my chest like a delicious jello shot. The linger is impossibly long on this sip and it sticks around in fruitful, tasty ways. Strawberry, raisin and raspberry jam all meld very well and feels like there is great continuity from the nose. Another sip and swish shows off bright, zest lemon alongside grape skins and peach. Oh wow... the creamy vanilla bean flavor that rips across your tongue on this is worth every penny of the price of admission. The funky sweetness from the rum barrel are finally starting to shine through later in the glass as well - it took some time to build. My last sip is again incredibly creamy with confectioners sugar, light raisin bread, muddled maraschino cherries and a touch of raspberry. The linger continues on in one constant wave that doesn't change in magnitude but emanates in every direction. Overall this is balanced & elegant.
Rating: Two Thumbs Way Up
I think the palate isn't quite as complex and layered as the nosing experience, but wow does it produce an impossibly long linger & impeccably delicious flavors. I'll definitely be looking forward to getting this one on my shelf once it is bottled. Cheers!