Breckenridge Bourbon - A Roundup Review

Top of the World!

At 9,600 feet above sea level, Breckenridge, Colorado is eight tenths of a mile higher than the Mile High City, Denver. With higher elevation comes a lower boiling point, and some feel that leads to better flavors. Breckenridge Distillery has the distinction of being the highest distillery in the world. So how have they created what some refer to as the best-blended bourbon in the U.S.?  It may be a combination of elevation and Rocky Mountain water. Or maybe it’s what American Whiskey Magazine described as a “glorious whiskey mess.”

Colorado Lake and Mountains

Colorado Lake and Mountains

It’s made in Colorado…How is that a bourbon?

If it is made in the United States, and it has a mash bill of 51 percent (or more) corn and is aged in charred oak barrels, it is bourbon. Then there is the alcohol content. It must not be distilled to higher than 160 proof. Best of all, bourbon can’t contain any extras: no flavorings or colorings. Once it is out of the barrel, the only thing added is water.

Art, Science, and Bourbon

The distillery was founded in 2008 by Bryan Nolt, a physician with a love for art and whiskey. At one point, Nolt sold his house to keep the distillery operational. His faith in Breckenridge Distillery was rewarded: the distillery has matured and now produces 75,000 cases a year. Their distilling setup includes a columnar doubler for their whiskey. They also have a small alembic still used for gin, absinthe, and other smaller batch spirits.

Nolt’s love of art extends all the way from the barrel room to the bathroom. The distillery also uses art to up the “single barrel” game by adding barrel art to the spirit labels for its Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

The Awards & Reviews!

Breckenridge Blended is a four-time winner of Best American Blended from the World Whiskies Award. In 2011 it was named Bourbon of the Year for its freshmen offering by the International Wine and Spirits Competition,.

In addition, in 2018, the distillery was presented with the Icons of Whisky award for Brand Innovator of the Year from Whisky magazine.

Breckenridge Bourbon Blend

This bourbon is high in rye with an in-house mash bill of 54 percent yellow corn, 38 percent green rye, and 8 percent barley. As a blend, it doesn’t need to disclose what other bourbon whiskies are included in the final bottle, but they all are aged three years or more.

Excerpts from Rickhouse Ramblings review:

Nose: A burst of fruitiness with soft tobacco aromas.”

Mouth: Delicate with hints of leather, vanilla pudding, and honey followed by apples and baking spices and ending black tea, leather and tobacco.”

Finish: Short, dry mild finish with a light white pepper burn and a touch of bitterness.”

Final Words: “a delicate, approachable, and smooth drinking experience” and “traditional qualities… a great introduction for those interested in dipping their toes in the bourbon waters.”

Interested in the full review? You can find it here.

From the Breaking Bourbon review:

Nose: “Spice springs from the glass, then followed by pine and barrel oak which slowly overtakes it. Vanilla and maple gently mingle in providing a pleasant and somewhat memorable aroma.”

Palate: “It’s fairly straightforward with caramel and oak dominating the initial palate. Toffee and butterscotch then roll in before notes of youthful grain and malt push through. Slightly buttery and on the sweet side, with overall thin consistency.”  

Finish: “Oak dominates on the medium-long finish, that’s punctuated with a dry aftertaste. Basic and straightforward delivery.”

Final words:  “This is an easy sipping whiskey, not only because of its proof but also because of its flavors. Classic bourbon notes are on display which will service new bourbon drinkers the most.”

…And More!

Since 2011 the Breckenridge distillers have expanded their bourbon offerings beyond their classic blend. Here are some of the more tantalizing bourbons they have created.

Breckenridge Bourbon Special Release

Breckenridge Bourbon Special ReleaseAnother high-rye bourbon. The mash bill is 56 percent yellow corn, 38 percent green rye, and 6 percent unmalted barley. Like their blend, it is aged from two to three years in charred white oak barrels.

Master of Malt Tasting Notes

Nose:Aromatic with caramel, toffee apples, coffee beans, and gloriously sweet, spicy barrel char. Oodles of rye and vanilla custard.”

Palate: “Sweet and oaky, stewed fruit, vanilla, creme caramel, porridge oats, and rye. Gloriously rounded and balanced.”

Finish: “Long and spiced, sweet oak and vanilla.”

Final word: “A classic bourbon, and a really, really good one at that!”

The Whiskey Wash Tasting Notes

Nose: “Initial whiffs of creamy sweetness—perhaps a buttery concoction of corn and baked apple pie. There is a definite spiciness that tingles the back of your nose like a light pepper sneeze.”

Palate: “Smooth like honey at first taste, the creaminess of the corn is pleasantly balanced by the rye’s robust character. A hint of char tags along behind the oaky kick before disappearing, almost without a trace (a tinge of pepper lingers).”

Final word: “Overall, this bourbon goes down easy with all the feels of a cinnamon-spiced cider in autumn. This is a fun and delicious bourbon that will melt the snow right off your boots.”

Breckenridge Bourbon High Proof Blend - Whisk(e)y Apostle Tasting Notes

Breckenridge High Proof BlendHigh-proof bourbons are not for the faint of heart or palate. They preserve the barreled whiskey’s character without the dilution usually made between barrel and bottle. Breckenridge Bourbon High Proof tops out at 105 proof.

Nose:  “Musty oak, salted caramel, cinnamon, vanilla wafers.”

Palate:  “Warm, sharp sweetness, caramel corn, oak with pepper spice and hints of orange zest.”

Finish:  “Moderately long, drying with caramel and cinnamon.”

Final word:  “A bit oaky, but not excessive to the point where it is off-putting. Appreciate the higher proof, but it doesn’t hold up well to water.”

Our Final Word:

Want to replicate the tastings above? Most were done with a Glencairn Glass. Our Barrel Stave Whiskey Glass Flight Holder is a great way to try a flight of different bourbons or share a single bottle with friends. Each flight holder is repurposed from whiskey barrels and is unique.

Barrel  Stave Whiskey Glass Flight Holders with Glasses

For more on creating your own tasting experience, check out our article on Bourbon Tasting.

Have a memory of sipping Breckenridge Bourbon? Or a memory of a snowy day followed by sipping bourbon beside the fire? Share it in our comments.