Review: Broken Barrel Los Angeles Distillery Collaboration Collection

Review: Broken Barrel Los Angeles Distillery Collaboration Collection

Broken Barrel keeps cranking out expressions, but this latest offering marks a particular first: It’s the first time it’s collaborated with another distiller — Los Angeles Distillery, in this case — together producing a cask strength wheated bourbon whiskey finished with Tokaji and single malt staves.

For those unfamiliar, the approach is to use finishing staves in relatively young whiskeys to impart new dimensions of flavor. And while Broken Barrel normally collaborates with Green River/O.Z. Tyler as its source of base spirits, this time it’s getting three barrels of five-year-old wheated bourbon (an unusual 51% corn, 49% wheat mashbill) from L.A. Distillery to get things started. That whiskey was initially aged in new charred Hungarian white oak instead of American oak, in custom 200 liter barrels with alligator-style grooved barrel staves to provide 68% more wood surface area.

From there, Tojaki-aszu wine staves (80%) and single malt barrel staves (20%, no source noted) are used to finish the experience — before bottling it at a blazing cask strength of more than 65% abv. (These are single barrel bottlings, and they are denoted by the three different abvs available.) This is the priciest Broken Barrel bottling we’ve seen to date, so let’s dive in and see how all of the above ends up once it hits the glass.

The nose is fragrant and rich, a heady mix of fig and date notes, dark chocolate, vanilla syrup, and plenty of gingerbread spices. Engaging even when you’re at a distance from the glass, the more frontier-like barrel char qualities don’t really emerge until you get your nose deeper into the glass — at which point a peppery, punchy element comes quickly into focus.

There’s plenty of all of the above reflected in the palate, very fruity with again a strong raisin through-line. I would have guessed it was an influence of Port instead of Tokaji had I not known otherwise, with cracking spice elements pouring on notes of ginger, cloves, and allspice against a backdrop of figs and Maraska cherries. The spice only grows stronger with time in glass, to the point where I felt like tempering it with water just to cut through some of it — more so than the fiery abv, even. It helps a bit, but tempering the spice and heat does bring out a more blunt wood character that isn’t nearly as much fun. In the end, I’d say let it ride at full strength — or consider adding water only by the drop — and let all those flavors of chocolate, macerated berries, toasted bread, Christmas cake, and charred wood all wash over you one by one, fading only after a lengthy, warming finish.

This is — by a large margin — my favorite Broken Barrel release to date, and though it will cost you a pretty penny, it’s wholly unique in a world full of cookie-cutter alternatives.

131.8 proof as reviewed.

A- / $110 /

Broken Barrel Los Angeles Distillery Collaboration Collection




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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