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Old Elk vs Weller Special Reserve: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Old Elk vs Weller Special Reserve in this head to head comparison and decide which wheated bourbon is better for You!

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 toMaker’s Mark, 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.
  • Gold Medal at the New York International Spirits Competition.

Weller Special Reserve

NoseMaple, apple, leather, oak
PalateCaramel, vanilla, chocolate, baking spice
FinishOld leather, cinnamon, oak
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat, add water
Similar toBlade & Bow, Eagle Rare, Garrison Bros

Weller (Top Bourbon) is made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery using a wheated mash.

In general, wheated bourbons are smoother and sweeter than those who carry rye in the mash as secondary grain behind corn

Nose is smooth and mostly sweet, rich in maple honey, apples, with some old leather and oak coming behind.

On the palate, Weller brings caramel, vanilla and cinnamon at first, followed by dark chocolate and a dash of citrus.

Finish is warming yet pleasant, somewhat dry, with lasting flavors of old leather, spicy cinnamon candy and oak spice.

Drinks nicely neat with very little to no burn, yet adding a drop of water releases sweetness, along more oak making it more tasty.

Weller Special Reserve (Substitutes) is smooth and sweet as you would expect from a wheated bourbon. It could use more body as it feels a bit thin, but overall this is a satisfying pour nonetheless.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Weller Special Reserve:

  • Weller uses an undisclosed amount of wheat in the mash but likely to be around 15%.
  • Weller was the first bourbon back in 1849 to add wheat to the mash as a secondary grain behind corn.
  • Weller is aged anywhere from 4 to 7 years.
  • Earned a Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Weller is crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery along the Buffalo Trace, Pappy van Winkle, E.H. Taylor, Blanton’s, George Stagg, among others.

Old Elk vs Weller Special Reserve: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Old Elk$70
Weller Special Reserve$63

Old Elk vs Weller Special Reserve: Which is better?

Weller is smoother than the Old Elk

WhiskeyOld ElkWeller Special Reserve
  • The Old Elk is a very interesting wheated bourbon, using a high proportion of this grain in the mash (45%) with some unique tasting notes making it unique.
  • If you are curious about wheated bourbons I would start with the Weller which is a plain-vanilla, crowd-pleaser before tackling the Old Elk which is a bit more demanding.
  • Personally, I prefer the Old Elk as I feel it richer and with more character, but feels warmer which is a deal-breaker for most consumers.

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