One Colorado-made bourbon was recently named among the “most exciting” whiskeys of 2023 by the experts at Whisky Advocate magazine.
Each year, the publication ranks its top 20 whiskeys of the year based on price, accessibility for buyers and, of course, taste, including scores from a blind panel of international judges.
Old Elk Distillery (253 Linden St., Fort Collins) made the list in 2023 with its Port Cask Finish straight bourbon. It ranked No. 15 out of 20 and received a score of 94 points (out of 100) from the tasting panel. Old Elk was the only local spirits maker on the list, which showcased liquors from a collection of whiskey heavyweights from Kentucky to Scotland and beyond.
“We are very proud to be recognized by Whisky Advocate for our Port Cask Finish Bourbon utilizing our high malt bourbon whiskey. The end product is the culmination of Old Elk’s desire to transcend the industry through innovation,” master distiller Greg Metze said by email. “The award is an honor and tribute to the passionate and skilled people that we have at Old Elk.”
What makes this recipe unique is the way it’s finished. Old Elk takes its straight bourbon and does a secondary aging for 10 months to one year in port wine barrels from Portugal, giving it ripe fruit notes against aromas of oak and sweet honey.
“The palate is redolent with spice and fruit, practically oozing with red berry compote, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and a bit of nuttiness,” Whisky Advocate noted. “Add water, and those chocolate and cinnamon notes become even more vibrant. On the finish, there’s candied sweetness and more spice, both also expanding delightfully with a dash of water.”
Old Elk Port Cask Finish bourbon retails for $90 per bottle. The distillery’s products are widely available at retail liquor stores across Colorado. Drinkers can also buy select bottles online at shop.oldelk.com.