A Colorado bourbon that's new to NHBy JIM BEAUREGARD April 17. 2018 7:56PM
Now that this column occasionally addresses spirits as well as wine and beer, I’m going to follow up on the recent string of bourbon articles with today’s selection, Old Elk Blended Bourbon.
First of all, a word about bourbon and the word “blended.” Whiskey that is blended is, under American standards, a beverage that has at least 20 to 100 percent straight whiskey. (That percentage is not to be confused with its alcohol content.)
What, you might be thinking, makes up the rest? That can include other ingredients such as coloring, added flavorings and some neutral spirits, which can be vodka-like substances or can be close to pure distilled alcohol. Some can be good, and some can be, well, not so good. The better ones, in other words, are 100 percent whiskey or close to it.
This brings us to a bourbon that’s a fairly recent arrival in New Hampshire, Old Elk. We are talking pretty good quality here, as this bourbon is made from malted barley, rye and corn. That’s about it. They go heavy on the malted barley, in fact, using several times more than is typical in other bourbons.
The Old Elk Distillery is located in Colorado — that’s right, not all bourbon comes from Kentucky or thereabouts. At Old Elk the bourbon is aged in charred barrels, which impart their own flavor.
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 44% alcohol by volume (88 proof). $49.99 (750 ml), New Hampshire State Liquor Store. Good clarity and brightness, a light shade of amber on pouring. The nose is rich and clean, and carries aromas of toast and a hint of cedar, some vanilla and a hint of cloves. On the palate, it is off-dry — this is bourbon after all — the alcohol, while noticeable, is a harmonious component, smooth, warming.
The mouth feel is smooth and full, and the flavors are pretty intense. The oak comes through, and a balanced sweetness, mostly vanilla, but with a little hint of caramel too, and there are cloves, as on the nose, as well as a hint of rye and a little almond too. The finish is long and the flavor profile stays with you right through to the end. OK, this is officially good. If you’re a bourbon drinker, you may want to give it a try.
Contact wine and beer and occasional spirits writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com