It’s been a loaded few weeks around here. Lots of tastings and classes that have come to an end, giving me a break to actually write again! At the end of March, I led a Bourbon/Rye/American craft whiskey session at Divine Wine, which included a whopping eight whiskeys. There is a lot to share with you from our session, which generated a lot of great conversation and debate. Today, I am going to give the pedestal to a distillery located right in the heart of Colorado’s ski resorts: Breckenridge Distillery.
Breckenridge is situated at the highest altitude of any distillery in the United States (9600 feet) and can be found as part of the Colorado Spirits Trail. The distillery was founded in 2007 by former doctor Bryan Nolt, who has (mostly) left a successful career in medicine behind to pursue his passion for spirits, and whiskey in particular. A trip to Scotland helped him adopt a Scottish mentality in whiskey production: valuing a local water source. In this case, Bryan had access to mountain snow melt that would be a major ingredient in his whiskeys. That, plus some education in distillation, has led to the creation award-winning Bourbon whiskeys. In fact, Bryan brought his distillation instructor, Jordan Via, to be his Head Distiller to help make this happen. The flagship product, Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey, is actually a blend of high-rye Colorado, Kentucky, and Tennessee whiskeys and has been well-received by the whiskey-loving community.
From there, Bryan and Jordan have experimented with different cask finishes, such as Port and PX Sherry, and he has also released a Colorado take on single malt Scotch with the Dark Arts: Whiskey Distilled From Malt Mash. Additionally, Breckenridge has a gin and a range of vodkas (which for many craft distillers represents a quick way to get product on the market and establish some cash flow) among other products like spiced rum and liqueurs.
You should know that Colorado is really beginning to take off when it comes to craft spirit production; I would not be writing about Breckenridge Distillery if the products were not readily available. Several products are available in many markets across the country.
Try this flight of three whiskeys to get a feel for the Breckenridge style and enjoy! For more information, visit their web site.
Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey ($40): The flagship product has the caramel, vanilla, and brown sugar flavors you like to enjoy from the Kentucky Bourbons, but there is also a spicy, lively character that comes through with the high-rye mashbill and the use of some younger whiskeys in the blend. A pleasantly bitter/herbaceous edge on the finish that provides an extra layer of complexity.
Breckenridge Port Finish Bourbon Whiskey ($50): Breckenridge takes the Bourbon recipe from above and finishes the whiskey in choice Port barrels for a few months. There is an apricot and berry jelly-like fruitiness on the finish and the use of Port barrel also softens the texture, giving the whiskey a silky mouthfeel, but there is also a peppery kick on the finish.
Breckenridge PX Cask Finish Bourbon Whiskey ($50): So again, take the flagship Bourbon recipe and this time age the whiskey in PX (Pedro Ximenez) Sherry Casks. PX Sherry is a sweet style made from dried grapes, giving candied orange, date, and fig flavors. This has a very rich texture, but the spicy character of the rye in the whiskey provides balance.