You don’t have to be in Kentucky to make Bourbon. Breckenridge Distillery is found high in the mountains of Colorado, where it creates whiskey and vodka at 9600 feet (it claims to be the world’s highest), using Rocky Mountain meltwater to craft its spirits. We tasted both. Thoughts follow.
Breckenridge Vodka – Distilled from grain and bottled at 80 proof, this is a nicely clean and traditional vodka, with a nose of medicinal spirit and a touch of cedar needles. The body is quite a bit more easygoing than you’d think — a medicinal (but quite pleasant) core, almost burnt sugar/creme brulee sweetness, and hints of evergreen on the finish. Great balance, with a lovely, creamy body. This is a fantastic vodka, and I’m not just saying that because of the clever, lift ticket-inspired bottle hanger. A / $27
Breckenridge Bourbon – From a mash bill of 56% yellow corn, 38% green rye, and 6% malted barley, this Bourbon is aged for at least two years and bottled at 86 proof. Though there’s plenty of color in the whiskey, the body is very light, an indicator of this spirit’s young age. Despite the slightly elevated (get it?) proof level, the overall impression in the mouth is a little watery and thin. It’s biggish on woody and caramel notes, with rye-heavy grain following close behind. Not a whole lot showing beyond that. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was drinking a perfectly capable but young, workaday whiskey from any old distillery in Kentucky, not artisanal business from the Rocky Mountain High… B+ / $55
Breckenridge Bourbon 2013 Update – Recipes change. Aging regimens change. Companies evolve. I’m not sure if Breckenridge has been tinkering, but tasting a fresh batch of Breckenridge in March 2013 I’m getting different notes. Still strongly woody on the nose, it offers hints of gunpowder and light vanilla notes. On the body, lots of sherry character, a big orange bomb backed up by wood notes, caramel, and hints of molasses. I’m getting a bigger body this time out, nothing I’d describe as thin or simple. Definitely a worthwhile Bourbon — whether it’s the whiskey that’s changed or my palate. A