husband, father, whisky lover, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society & leading the USBG NJ efforts...currently the New Jersey Whisky Ambassador for Diageo & therefore leave the recent writing duties to guest bloggers, primarily that Bourbon loving fella named Gerard

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Breckenridge Bourbon


Earlier in my life I was fortunate enough to live in Colorado for a little while.

I had an apartment with my buddy, and we had fun.  Being exposed to that area, it is hard to dispute its beauty.

There are lots of things to marvel at.  I can clearly remember driving to work out there and just being enamored with the Rocky Mountains.  It was very hard to concentrate on the road with such a spectacle everywhere you turn.  Another marvel was how the elevation affected everything in sports…from how far a ball travels, to how quickly you get winded.

That leads me to a distillery perched at 9,600 feet above sea level (highest distillery in the world) in Breckenridge, CO.  There is something else to marvel at here too…how can a whiskey so relatively young (2-3 years) taste so fantastic?

Everything I have learned leads me to believe there is a Scotch fan at the distillery.  They use an open-top Scottish fermenter, a Vendome copper pot still, and even claim to mix Rocky Mountain snowmelt into their high rye mashbill!

Breckenridge has been really racking up the awards since 2011, and the hits keep coming.  While other big names like Jefferson’s and Elijah Craig are releasing bourbons in their 20’s, it is pretty nifty to see success with something so relatively young.

According to Bryan Nolt (Owner) and Jordan Via (Master Distiller) the mashbill is 56% Yellow Corn 38% Green Rye and 6% Un-Malted barley.  Aged in 55 gallon, Char No. 3 Missouri white oak barrels for 2-3 years, plus factor in some snow melt from the peaks of Mt. Quandary, something special is happening here.

It was quite a big hit at our New Jersey Whiskey Society tasting earlier this month, and I know a few folks literally picked up a bottle on the way home.  That is saying quite a bit when you consider the pricetag is a little on the high side for such a youngster ($40).  But, at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance:  Honeyed Amber +1

Nose:  Solid for its youth, butter & corn (think cream corn), slightly sweet (brown sugar) with just a faint hint of Oak

Palate:  Flavor!  Rye spices of cinnamon/nutmeg, fresh New Jersey Sweet Corn, the spirit has a thin mouthfeel though

Finish: Medium length finish with Oak and Vanilla as the primary suspects


I enjoyed Breckenridge quite a bit.   What I would love to do is taste this at cask strength!!  I imagine that would resolve the mouthfeel issue and make some of these beautiful notes shine that much brighter.  I'd steer away from the water with this one, a little opens it up, but I wouldn't put it on the rocks.  I already fancy a flavorful, high rye bourbon over the sweeter ones in general.  This bourbon has the ability to be a smooth sipper as-is or could be a fine addition to your favorite cocktail.  I just really like the flavor profiles that get achieved here.  Special thanks go out to the Breckenridge team for the sample.  Breckenridge Bourbon is just one more thing to marvel at when we set our gaze at Colorado.

Score:  88


  1. The details about the distillery are nice, but this whiskey isn't distilled there... at least not yet. It's a sourced whiskey according to everything that I've read and I've got confirmation from a very good source. I visited the distillery in May and it's surprising that they didn't share this information. I thought the bourbon was pretty good, but overpriced; however, I did pick up a bottle of their nice Breckenridge Bitters.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Good call, I totally agree. I reached out to a few people and confirmed as well. Looks like they are going the NDP (as the fantastic Chuck Cowdery puts it) route until they get up and running with their own juice.

      On his blog recently, the super-cool Sku worded it nicely:

      “Breckenridge Distillery is an actual distillery (meaning one that actually distills) in Breckenridge, Colorado. The current Breckenridge Bourbon is a sourced Kentucky bourbon made from 56% corn, 38% rye and 6% barley aged from two to six years old (note that their website says two to three years but they told me that was out of date). Breckenridge is making their own bourbon but they haven't marketed any of it yet. Once theirs is ready, they plan to blend it with the sourced whiskey and eventually transition to using only bourbon made at the distillery.”

      Great point about the price too. I tend not to really discuss price in my notes, but at around $40 this stuff is not cheap. Especially when you consider all the fantastic Bourbons you can get out there sub-$30.