Sitting at a lofty 9,600 feet, Breckenridge Distillery ranks as the highest-elevation spirit-making facility in the world. And while the mad scientist behind their award-winning spirits certainly draws inspiration from the near-panoramic views of the snow-covered Rockies, Breckenridge also integrates their enviable location into their liquors—their top-tier vodka and bourbon are made from Colorado snowmelt, creating what they claim to be “mineral-infused perfection.”
Market-speak? Perhaps. But one sip of their Bourbon Whiskey may make you a believer.
The distillers deploy a mash bill mixture dominated by yellow corn and green rye, with a modest six percent of unmalted barley that’s open-top fermented and distilled in a 700-gallon custom-made copper combination pot still. The liquor is then proofed with the high-elevation snow melt and aged in new American white oak barrels for up to three years.
The high percentage of green rye adds a hearty, white pepper spiciness to the mix, and you can smell it almost instantly. Underneath, aromatic wisps of brown sugar and baked apples. Don’t expect the overt characteristics of longer-aged spirit, but it’s surprisingly complex for such a young bourbon. And it turns out that that the unique pH balance of that snow and glacier melt does indeed distinguish this bourbon from similarly-aged spirits, creating a robust mouth-feel with a palatable mix of corn, dried fruit, ginger, oak, and hints of maple. The finish has a slight, welcome burn, and the muscular flavors linger, tingling on the lips and tongue with flavorful shades of wood before slowly fading. Try it neat to appreciate the full bite, then add a few drops of water to open up the flavors.
One word of caution: If you’re fortunate enough to imbibe at the actual distillery, take it slow or wait till you acclimatize to the elevation—you’ll want to remember the experience.
Distillery: Breckenridge Distillery
City: Breckenridge, CO