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Maker’s Mark vs Old Elk: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Maker’s Mark vs Old Elk in this in-depth comparison and decide which wheated bourbon is better for You!

Maker’s Mark

makers-mark
NoseCinnamon, clove, nutmeg, almond
PalateRye spice, caramel, dried fruit, nuts
FinishLong, caramel, rye spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toJim Beam, Four Roses, George Dickel

Maker’s Mark (Top Bourbon) is one of the best-selling whiskeys in the United States.

Its popularity lies in its signature smoothness and affordable price making a great entry-level bourbon.

The nose has a nail polish note that fades into vanilla and cherry as you let it develop in the glass.

On the palate Maker’s Mark (Substitutes) delivers vanilla, caramel, cherry and honey providing a pleasant mouthfeel.

The finish has a moderate length, is sweet with very little warmth and just a dash of black pepper.

Adding a drop of water makes it taste like a Tootsie Pop, while tuning down the spicy note making it easier to sip.

This makes the Maker’s Mark a bit sweeter and smoother while providing a bready flavor.

Nothing stands-out but there are no off-putting notes as it is nicely balanced, yet with enough body.

It makes a good bottle to those new to bourbon or liquors in general or a nice “everyday whisky” for those looking for a non-challenging sipper.

There are few facts about Maker’s Mark worth knowing:

  • Maker’s Mark is made from 70% corn, 16% red wheat, and 14% malted barley. 
  • While most whiskeys age for a set amount of time, Maker’s is bottled when the tasters call it to be ready; that is between 6 and 7 years.
  • This one of the few whiskey brands in the United States that uses “whisky” instead of “whiskey” in its name due to the founders Scottish heritage.
  • Maker’s bottles stand out from the rest due to the red wax seal that is still made by hand nowadays.
  • Maker’s Mark is owned by Beam Suntory, a Japanese drinks giant who also holds Jim Beam, although they are crafted at different distilleries.

Old Elk Wheated Bourbon

old-elk-wheated-bourbon
NoseOld leather, caramel, earth
PalateCocoa, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, earth
FinishCocoa, cinnamon, oak spice
Alcohol content92 proof (46% ABV)
How to drinkRocks
Similar toWeller Special Reserve, Bernheim

There is ethanol on the nose, but it fades right away giving way to an old leather note, along caramel and an earthy touch.

On the palate, the Old Elk displays a viscous texture providing a good body.

First sip feels warm, but not harsh. There is a cocoa powder to it making it somewhat unique, followed by honey, cinnamon, vanilla and more of that earthy note from the nose.

There is a light crisp cereal note to remind you that you are drinking a wheated bourbon.

The finish has a medium to long length, a bit warm, with more cocoa, along cinnamon and subtle oak spice.

Old Elk is not the smoothest bourbon as it has some heat but is not harsh. Adding a drop of water is enough to tame the heat, release a tad of caramel and make it easier to drink.

It has some interesting flavors, as cocoa is not a common note along bourbons, making it something well worth trying before moving to the next novelty.

Old Elk was established in 2013 in Colorado by Curt and Nancy Richardson (Otterbox) in collaboration with former MGP Greg Metze.

The Old Elk is handcrafted using a slow cut proofing process.

They claim to enhance the bourbon’s flavors through a careful technique where the bourbon is cut to proof, left to rest, and the process is repeated over the course of many weeks.

This method takes notably longer than the traditional 24-48 hour proofing process.

This additional time allows the flavors to blend, resulting in a softer, better balanced bourbon. As less heat is produced, the lighter flavors stay in the liquid.

There are a few facts worth know about the Old Elk:

  • Crafted using a mash bill of 51% corn, 45% wheat, and 4% malted barley.
  • Aged for at least 5 years.

Maker’s Mark vs Old Elk: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

BourbonPrice
Maker’s Mark$32
Old Elk$70

Maker’s Mark vs Old Elk: Which is better?

Old Elk is a more tasty and satisfying bourbon

WhiskeyMaker’s MarkOld Elk
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • Maker’s Mark is a basic release, with limited wheat in the mash (16%), tasting more like a traditional bourbon and a better choice for newbies.
  • Old Elk is a far more tasty dram, rich in wheat (45%) with some warmth to it, but entirely drinkable with a drop of water.
  • There is a considerable price differential between these bourbons. Maker’s Mark is a bottom-dweller, while the Old Elk is a mid-shelf bourbon.

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