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Fort Collins, Colorado’s 73 year history as a dry town, inspired Curt and Nancy Richardson to launch and name their craft distillery, Old Elk. That inspiration didn’t stop there either; they recently launched Dry Town Vodka and Dry Town Gin and Nooku Bourbon Cream. To top it all off, they have accomplished all this since 2013.

But don’t get them wrong, they’re not rushing to get things done. They’ve been quietly developing their recipes for nearly three years. They use 4 times more malted barley in their Old Elk bourbon than conventional recipes along with the rye and corn. They use a slow cut proofing technique that enhances the bourbon’s flavor and whereas traditional proofing takes 24-48 hours – theirs takes significantly longer. On top of all that, they just recently won the 2016-2017 Colorado Distillery of the Year award from the New York International Spirits Competition.

With no age statement on the label other than “Straight Bourbon,” we can safely assume that this spirit has been aged for at least two years in the barrel. This Bourbon comes in a clear bottle that has that wild, wild, west look that very nicely shows off the amber colored spirit inside. The nose is sweet with hints of vanilla, oak, ripe figs and butter and virtually no alcohol vapors to get in the way. The palate is spicy and sweet with touches of maple, chocolate and oak. The finish is also pleasantly spicy and sweet, oaky and buttery and lasts a medium amount of time. A couple of rocks thrown into the mix really bring out the whiskey taste, rye and sweetness in this bourbon.

Who’d ‘a ever thunk it? Rocky Mountain bourbon making a splash against all that Kentucky bourbon. Maybe it’s the altitude or quite possibly a team of distillers with decades of experience, but whatever it is this bourbon is really quite pleasant, has a whole lot of flavor going for it and is easy on the throat. Unfortunately, it is in relatively limited distribution today, but tomorrow holds out a lot of promise as these people have big expansion plans. In the mean time if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Fort Collins, (just a bit north of Denver) and can find the time, definitely pick up a bottle of Old Elk.

Old Elk Straight Bourbon Whiskey is just a little tough to find because production started up not too long ago and distribution is expanding as fast as possible. Old Elk sells for around $48.99 per 750ML bottle and is 88 proof or 44% ABV.

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By George Brozowski