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I think I can say that I’ve reached the delta in my life where my kids are surpassing me. And while I believe it’s true that each generation following the next is innately equipped with a sense for better handling technological advancement, I don’t necessarily mean to say my kids are ready to be crowned in the P.C. or video game department. Keeping the context, I’m still the guy everyone in the house calls when the internet is down or the computer is malfunctioning. I’m still the guy who, when propped in front of Pac-Man or Donkey Kong in an arcade, is a demigod among mortals.

But ask me how to change the settings on my smart phone, or put me in front of a flat screen TV with a Sony PlayStation controller into my hands, and you’d think I had a closed head injury.

I guess what I mean is that I’m at that point when the nature of my physical advancement has turned to retreat. Rough-housing with my kids has become less about me being careful not to injure them and more about them being careful not to completely maim me. Sporting activities are less about me being careful not to score too many more points than them and more about making sure I don’t have a heart attack. I just played air-hockey with my wife, and while I won, I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. In the arcade’s dim light, I had a difficult time seeing the puck. If I’d been playing one of my more aggressive sons, I’d have lost for sure.

The problem with all of this is that even though I’ve clearly met the mile marker of my physical abilities, my pride remains somewhere over the horizon. I’m not willing to forfeit these contests just yet. This means I’ll play to win a vicious game of Death Ball in the vacation swimming pool (see the Big House Straight Bourbon or Peerless Straight Rye reviews) even though I’ll be terribly sore in the days that follow. It means that in the heat of a high speed go-cart contest at a mock NASCAR facility, one requiring a helmet that just won’t allow my glasses to sit correctly so I can actually see the track without a slight blur, a father will keep his throttle wide open, risking his future and the future of his eldest son in every indistinct turn.

“Old” armed with the prideful desire to outdo all others can be a dangerous and foolhardy thing. However, in the case of the Old Elk Bourbon, it’s the perfect recipe for a fine dram.

A gold medal winner at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the nose of this whiskey is that of warmed brown sugar and overly ripened strawberries followed by the cloves and vanilla noted by the distiller.

An initial sip reveals a stirring warmth of caramel and the berries from the nosing. A drop of water and a swirl allows the barrel spices to flourish while at the same time giving thickness to its sweeter notes. In other words, as the intensity of one begins, the other comes along bringing it into balance.

The finish is medium in length, offering a brief retelling of the palate while at the same time beckoning another go-round.

It’s the perfect dram for a post-go-cart debrief between two ferociously competitive generations.

“I wish we’d have had the track to ourselves,” I said. “Those other three drivers were going way too slowly.”

“Yeah,” Josh replied. “If it wouldn’t have been for them, it would’ve been full on for us. And did you see that one girl was texting the whole time?”

“Yeah,” I said, “but did you see what happened?”

“Oh yes, I did,” Josh said, smiling. “She dropped her phone on the track.”

“That’s because I cut her off in the third turn,” I said, grinning pridefully and taking a sip.

“Old and young, we make a great team,” he said, matching my grin and sipping his Sprite.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked, teetering at the edge of offense.

“You made her drop it. I ran it over.”


* Full disclosure: Before receiving this whiskey, I was offered the opportunity to visit with Greg Metze, the somewhat iconic hand behind Old Elk Bourbon. I chose not to do so for two reasons. The first is that I know a lot about him and his history in the world of rye whiskies, and with that, I didn’t want to be star struck before the first sip. The second reason is that I’m certain we would’ve become fast friends during that conversation. But if the whiskey would’ve been total garbage, a scathing review of what is his first venture beyond his days at the helm of Midwest Grain Products (MGP) in Indiana—the source distillery for a vast number of craft distilleries—I’m equally certain such a review would’ve soured that blossoming relationship before it had time to establish deeper roots.