Heritage Distilling Co. "Elk Rider" Bourbon and Rye

Heritage Distilling Co. (HDC) is a craft distillery based in Gig Harbor, Washington. It opened for business in 2012 and released its first whiskey, a blend, in November 2013. Since then, no craft distillery has won more awards from the American Distilling Institute. 

HDC is one of the most innovative craft distilleries in the country. They produce all sorts of spirits, from traditional bourbon and rye whiskeys to gin, various vodkas, a host of flavored vodkas, barrel aged vodka, apple cider whiskey, flavored bourbon, and custom-aged whiskeys for different groups and customers. In a later post, I'll review the bourbon HDC made for the Fort Lewis, Washington based 1st Special Forces Group.

CEO Justin Stiefel chose the name "Elk Rider" for the company's flagship bourbon and rye whiskeys as a tribute to his wife's family history. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, her ancestors settled Washington's Olympic Range and became famous for breaking and riding wild elk.

Heritage "Elk Rider" Bourbon

Heritage Distilling Co.
92 proof

Color: Golden.

Nose: An initial blast of raw grain and ethanol are not unpleasant, but they reveal the bourbon's youth. After a few minutes, caramel, brown sugar, and green oak notes emerge.

Tasting Notes: A good balance of sweet and spicy. The front is bright honey and sugar, but the finish is cinnamon spice with a kick of alcohol heat. The prickly spice lingers on the tongue and in the throat.

Heritage "Elk Rider" Rye

Heritage Distilling Co.
92 proof

Color: Light amber. A shade darker than the bourbon.

Nose: A more subtle, but more pleasant, nose than the bourbon. I get lots of lemon, some dill and rye bread.

Tasting Notes: Up front, the rye features bright red fruit and sweet maple. Baking spices and black pepper show up, but the finish is very smooth. 

Bottom line: Both Elk Rider whiskeys lack the vanilla and oak tannins you taste in straight whiskeys, but they're very well-made and easy to drink. HDC sells a Spirits Advent Calendar ($50) for the holidays, which I'd absolutely recommend. 

Peer Reviews:

Disclaimer: HDC provided us with samples of the Elk Rider bourbon and rye.